FORT MYERS, Fla. (January 19, 2021) – The Minnesota Twins announced their minor league coaching assignments Wednesday, including the full staff that will lead the 2022 Fort Myers Mighty Mussels.
Brian Meyer returns to Fort Myers for his second season as manager. Two of the team’s four on-field assistants from 2021 are back with the club, as well as two members of the support staff.
“We have a development-driven staff with a lot of diversity in our backgrounds and within the game, which will help us all continue to grow,” Meyer said. “With Ray Sierra and Carlos Hernandez returning, we have experience in navigating through the demands of the league, which in turn we can help the players adjust to.”
Pitching coach Carlos Hernandez returns to the Mighty Mussels for his second season as pitching coach. Hernandez was also set to lead the Mussels’ pitchers at the High-A level in 2020 before coronavirus wiped out the campaign.
The Guacara, Venezuela native began his Twins’ tenure in 2018, leading the pitchers on the Twins’ Dominican Summer League team. In 2019, he arrived in Fort Myers as the pitching coach of the Gulf Coast League Twins.
The 41-year-old enjoyed an extensive playing career. Hernandez spent 11 years in affiliated ball, including four seasons in the Major Leagues with the Houston Astros from 2001-2004. His best season came in 2002, when he went 7-5 with a 4.38 ERA while finishing third on the team in innings (111) and starts (21). Hernandez teamed up with Roy Oswalt and Billy Wagner to help Houston finish with a winning record that season. Hernandez received run support from notable Astros hitters such as Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Brad Ausmus.
Carlos remained in the Astros’ organization through 2006 before stepping away from baseball due to injuries. He made a triumphant return to affiliated ball in 2008, spending three years in the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization. He racked up 202.2 innings for Triple-A Durham before officially retiring in 2011.
Hernandez will share the pitching coach responsibilities with Jared Gaynor. Gaynor joins the Mussels’ coaching staff for the first time after spending last season with the FCL Twins. In 2021, his FCL Twins’ pitching staff finished fourth out of 18 teams in strikeouts, racking up 544 punchouts in 476 innings (10.3 K.9). Prior to the pandemic, he served as the pitching coach for the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Gaynor spent five years coaching and four years playing professionally upon graduating from George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.) in 2014. The left-hander pitched for six different independent league teams from 2014-17, debuting in three different leagues around the country. He racked up 328.1 innings in his pro career, which included stops in Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
From 2015-17, the 29-year-old pitched in the summer while coaching during the rest of the year. Gaynor made his coaching debut as the pitching coach for Coronado High School (Ariz.) in 2015 before getting offered the head coaching position the following season. He was hired by Arizona Christian University in 2016, spending two years as the school’s pitching coach. Gaynor moved to Richmond in 2018, spending the 2018-19 school year as the Director of Baseball Operations for VCU before getting signed by the Twins.
Born in Cave Creek, Ariz., Gaynor was the 2010 Metro Region Player of the year at Scottsdale Christian before playing his first two college seasons at Stone Mountain Community College. He spent his final two collegiate seasons at Division I George Mason, turning in one of the best campaigns in Patriots’ history as a senior in 2014. An All-Conference performer, Gaynor finished with a 2.03 ERA over a whopping 115 innings, leading the Patriots to the NCAA Tournament.
Hitting coach Rayden Sierra returns to the Mighty Mussels after joining the Twins’ organization in 2021. Coaching first base at Hammond Stadium last year, Sierra served as the team’s Assistant Hitting and Development Coach. The Dominican Republic native was the hitting and outfield coach for Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers in the spring of 2021. Prior to his time in Southwest Florida, Sierra coached at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee.
Sierra played for Broward College (Fla.) and Cumberland University (Tenn.) before beginning his professional career. He hit .245 for the Schaumburg Boomers (Frontier League) in 2019, where he played for 2021 Mussels’ hitting coach Derek Shomon.
Shomon was promoted to Double-A Wichita along with 2021 pitching coach Peter Larson.
Bench coach Takashi Miyoshi joins the Mussels’ coaching staff after managing the FCL Twins in Fort Myers in 2021. Originally from Sagamihara, Japan, Miyoshi joined the Twins’ organization prior to the 2018 season, spending two years as an assistant with the Elizabethton Twins. His history at the complex and the rookie level of the organization gives him tremendous familiarity with the 2022 Mussels players.
“Jared spent 2019 in Cedar Rapids and knows the game at this level as well,” Meyer said. “Yoshi’s experience as a manager and great eye for the intricate details of the game will be a great asset to the staff and players.”
Prior to joining the Twins, Miyoshi played four seasons of independent baseball in the United States before entering the coaching ranks. He coached eight “Indy Ball” seasons, the last three as the manager of the Sonoma Stompers. He led the Stompers to the Pacific Association title in 2016 before posting the franchise’s best overall record (52-26) in 2017. His previous teams include the Brockton Rox (2011), Sioux City Explorers (2012) and the Grand Prairie Air Hogs (2013-14).
Miyoshi is believed to be the first Japanese-born manager in American pro baseball without NPB or MLB experience. He played for the London Monarchs (2003), Japan Samurai Bears (2005) and Victoria Seals (2009). Miyoshi attended Sobudai High School and Middlesex County College (Bedford, Mass.).
Strength coach Evan McDonald returns to the Mighty Mussels for his second season. The Indiana native joined the Twins’ organization in 2021 following two years of graduate school at the University of Louisville, where he served as a graduate assistant and sports performance intern with the Cardinals’ athletics programs.
Byron Oliver returns for his fourth year in Fort Myers and is the only staff member who dates back to the franchise’s Miracle era. Oliver will serve as the Mussels’ Coordinator of Baseball Technology, capturing video of game action while providing valuable tools for players and coaches to improve.
Hired by the Twins in November of 2021, Chase Thompson joins the Mighty Mussels as the team’s Lead Athletic Trainer for the 2022 season. Thompson spent 2021 in the Kansas City Royals’ organization after working the 2020-21 NBA season as a medical assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Chase earned his bachelor’s in health and exercise science from the University of Oklahoma in 2019. He then went on to the University of Central Oklahoma, where he received a Master’s in Athletic Training in 2021 while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
Thompson will be assisted by Thaddeus Hayes, who served as an athletic trainer throughout the club’s Fort Myers minor league complex in 2021. He is a graduate of Sterling College in Kansas.
The Mighty Mussels are set to begin the 2022 season on Friday, April 8 in Clearwater. The team’s home opener at Hammond Stadium is Tuesday, April 12. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Stay tuned for the club’s full promotional schedule in the coming weeks.