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De Armas, Bell win Coolbaugh, Bender Awards

FCL Phillies skipper, late Twins bench coach earn coaching honors
December 6, 2021

NEW YORK -- On Monday, Minor League Baseball announced the selections of Philadelphia Phillies Florida Complex League Manager Roly de Armas as the recipient of the 13th annual Mike Coolbaugh Award and the late Mike Bell of the Minnesota Twins as the 13th winner of the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award.

NEW YORK -- On Monday, Minor League Baseball announced the selections of Philadelphia Phillies Florida Complex League Manager Roly de Armas as the recipient of the 13th annual Mike Coolbaugh Award and the late Mike Bell of the Minnesota Twins as the 13th winner of the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award.

The Mike Coolbaugh Award is presented annually to an individual who has shown outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game and skill in mentoring young players on the field. The award was created by Minor League Baseball in 2008 to honor the late Coolbaugh, a 17-year Minor League player who was in his first year as a coach at the time of his passing. Coolbaugh appeared in 44 Major League games with the Milwaukee Brewers (39 games in 2001) and St. Louis Cardinals (five games in 2002).

The Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award is presented to an individual with distinguished service who has been instrumental in player development. The award honors Bender as a longtime front office executive and consultant who spent 39 years with the Cincinnati Reds.

Roly de Armas -- Mike Coolbaugh Award

The 2021 season marked de Armas’ 35th as a Minor League manager, with all 35 coming at or below the Class A level. A 48-year professional baseball veteran, de Armas began his career as a catcher in the Phillies organization from 1973-77.

He began his coaching career as a player-coach in the Phillies’ system with Peninsula (Class A) in 1977 and began his managerial career in 1979 with Helena (Class A), where he remained until 1982. De Armas later managed Class A Spartanburg (1983, 1985-86), Class A Sarasota (1984), Class A Clearwater (1987 and 1993) and Rookie-level Martinsville (1988-92).

In 1994, he was named bullpen catcher for the Chicago White Sox, a role he held until June 2,1995, when he was named bullpen coach, a position he held through the 1996 season. In 1997, de Armas returned to the Minor Leagues, managing the Chicago’s Rookie-level Sarasota club before joining the Arizona Diamondbacks organization to manage Class A South Bend in 1998 and Rookie-level Tucson in 1999.

De Armas spent the 2000 season as the bullpen coach for the Toronto Blue Jays before returning to the Phillies organization in 2001. De Armas managed the Phillies’ Rookie-level team in the Gulf Coast League from 2001-02, 2004 and 2007-2021. He managed Class A Clearwater for the second half of the 2002 and 2003 seasons and was the club’s catching coordinator in 2005 and 2006.

De Armas also served as the bullpen coach for Team USA in the World Cup from 2007-09 and spent several months with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 as the interim bullpen coach. In 2010, he led the GCL Phillies to the championship. He was the bullpen coach for Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and earlier this year he served as bullpen coach for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, where Team USA won a silver medal.

“It’s truly an honor to be selected for this award and be mentioned with the previous winners, many of whom I know personally,” said de Armas. “The previous winner of this award, Glenn ‘Goose’ Gregson, was my pitching coach in my first year, and here we are almost 50 years later, and we are the last two winners of this award, so that is pretty amazing. Mike Coolbaugh was a great man, and I’m honored to win the award named in his honor.”

De Armas, 69, resides in Palm Harbor, Florida, with his wife, Debra. They have a son, Devin.

“Roly de Armas has dedicated his career to helping young professional players try to reach their dreams of becoming Major League Baseball players,” said Peter Woodfork, Major League Baseball’s Senior Vice President of Minor League Operations and Development. “To spend 35 years managing at the lowest levels of the Minor Leagues shows Roly’s passion for developing players and his love for the game of baseball. We are proud to recognize him with this award.”

Mike Coolbaugh Award Winners
Year Name Team
2008 Bobby Jones Texas Rangers
2009 Charlie Montoyo Tampa Bay Rays
2010 Woody Huyke GCL Pirates
2011 Mike Jirschele Omaha Storm Chasers
2012 Johnny Goryl Cleveland Indians
2013 Mike Guerrero Nashville Sounds
2014 Tom Wiedenbauer Cleveland Indians
2015 John Shoemaker Los Angeles Dodgers
2016 Donald “Spin” Williams Washington Nationals
2017 Dennis Holmberg Toronto Blue Jays
2018 Steve Turco St. Louis Cardinals
2019 Glenn “Goose” Gregson Boston Red Sox
2021 Roly de Armas FCL Phillies

Mike Bell -- Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award

Bell, who tragically passed away on March 26, 2021, at the age of 46 after a battle with kidney cancer, is honored posthumously with the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award. Bell was entering his second season as bench coach for the Minnesota Twins at the time of his passing.

A veteran of 28 years in professional baseball, Bell was a first-round Draft choice of the Texas Rangers in 1993 and spent 13 years (1993-2005) as a professional player in seven different organizations. He made his Major League debut on July 20, 2000, for his hometown Cincinnati Reds, appearing in 19 games.

Following his playing career, Bell began a 13-year career in player development in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. After starting as a manager for three years (with Short-Season Yakima in 2007 and Class A Advanced A Visalia in 2008-09), Bell was promoted to field coordinator in 2010 and the director of player development in 2011. In 2017, Bell was promoted to vice president of player development before joining Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli’s staff as bench coach in 2020.

Bell was part of a three-generation baseball family that is among the most famous and respected in all of baseball. His grandfather, Gus, played 15 years in the Major Leagues, while his father, Buddy, spent 27 years in Major League Baseball (nine as a manager and 18 as a player). Mike’s brother, Ricky, was a third-round pick of the Dodgers in 1997, and his brother, David, just completed his third season as Cincinnati’s manager after a12-year playing career in the Majors.

Mike Bell is survived by his wife, Kelly, and their three children, Luke, Mikayla and Madeline.

“On behalf of Mike’s wife Kelly, son Luke, and daughters Mikayla and Madeline, along with Mike’s mother Gloria, brothers David and Rick, and sisters Kristi and Traci, we would like to thank the committee for posthumously honoring Mike with the ‘Chief’ Bender Award as this prestigious award would have meant so much to Mike because of what the award implies relating to player development, which was his love and passion,” said Buddy Bell. “Mike’s devotion and dedication to his players, staff and Minor League affiliates transcended his love for the game of baseball. To be recognized for something he loved to do makes this award even more meaningful. Mike’s recognition for this award is very humbling for our family. My only wish is that Mike could be here to receive the award himself. The Bell family would also like to thank Mike’s baseball families, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Minnesota Twins for being so gracious and supportive to Mike and our family throughout Mike’s career and especially during his illness. Again, it is both an honor and a privilege to receive this award on behalf of Mike.”

“Mike Bell was a highly regarded talent evaluator and instructor. He was a top baseball executive and an even better person who will be sorely missed by many in our game,” said Woodfork. “It is our honor to present a member of the Bell family with this award for a second time, and deservedly so.”

Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award Winners
Year Name Team
2008 Jim Rantz Minnesota Twins
2009 Keith Lieppman Oakland Athletics
2010 Mark Newman New York Yankees
2011 Bob Gebhard Arizona Diamondbacks
2012 Mitch Lukevics Tampa Bay Rays
2013 Brian Graham Baltimore Orioles
2014 Lois Hudson Cincinnati Reds
2015 Buddy Bell Chicago White Sox
2016 Dan Lunetta Detroit Tigers
2017 Grady Fuson Oakland Athletics
2018 Steve Cobb Arizona Fall League
2019 Junior Noboa Arizona Diamondbacks
2021 Mike Bell Minnesota Twins