SPRINGDALE, Ark. – The Kansas City Royals have announced the 2021 field staffs for all of their minor league affiliates today – Friday, February 19th – and the big-league club has once again tabbed Scott Thorman as the field manager of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Thorman, who was slated to
SPRINGDALE, Ark. – The Kansas City Royals have announced the 2021 field staffs for all of their minor league affiliates today – Friday, February 19th – and the big-league club has once again tabbed Scott Thorman as the field manager of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Thorman, who was slated to manage the club last season, will become the fifth manager in franchise history.
Thorman, 39, is entering his sixth managerial season within the Kansas City Royals organization. He has accumulated a regular season record of 304-259 to go along with the two league titles. He started his managerial career with the Burlington Royals in 2015 and 2016 before advancing to Lexington in 2017 and 2018 and then Wilmington in 2018. His work with the Legends in 2018 garnered him the Dick Howser Award, given out annually to the Royals’ most outstanding player development person.
The Naturals’ manager is accustomed to winning as he has won league titles during each of his last two seasons at the helm of a club. In 2018 he guided the Lexington Legends to the South Atlantic League championship before winning the 2019 Mills 2019 Mills Cup Championship in the Carolina League with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, which was the first Wilmington title since 1999. Following that success, Thorman managed the Surprise Saguaros in the prestigious Arizona Fall League in 2019.
Prior to managing, he played professionally for 12 years including a Major League stint with the Atlanta Braves in 2006 and 2007. He was a first-round draft pick by the Braves in 2000 and was a Futures Game participant during the 2003 season.
Joining Thorman in Northwest Arkansas is pitching coach Derrick Lewis and hitting coach Abraham Nunez while certified athletic trainer Justin Kemp and strength and conditioning coach CJ Mikkelsen will round out the Naturals’ field staff. Danny Helmer will serve as the coordinator of clubhouse operations.
Derrick Lewis begins his first season as the Naturals’ pitching coach. He joined the Royals’ organization prior to the 2020 season after spending the previous 16 seasons with the Atlanta Braves’ organization, including his final two seasons as the pitching coordinator. He played seven seasons in the Braves’ organization from 1997-2003 after being selected in the 20th round of the 1997 draft. Lewis and his wife Roslyn, reside in Charlotte, North Carolina with their daughter Skye, and son, Luke.
Abraham Nunez is named the Naturals’ hitting coach for a third season after serving in the same capacity in Wilmington (2015-2018), Lexington (2014), Burlington (2013), and with the Dominican Royals (2012). Nunez played for parts of 12 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Pirates (1997-2004), Cardinals (2005), Phillies (2006-2007), and Mets (2008) with his best season coming in 2005 when he hit .285 for St. Louis. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, he now resides in Garfield, New Jersey.
Justin Kemp has been tabbed as the Northwest Arkansas athletic trainer for the third season, after serving in the same role for Idaho Falls (2016-2018) and Surprise (2015). Kemp spent the 2014 season as an intern athletic trainer for the Kansas City Royals. He attended Mount Marty College as well as South Dakota State University and currently resides in Spearfish, South Dakota.
CJ Mikkelsen will serve as the Naturals’ strength and conditioning coach after being scheduled to work in the same role in Idaho Falls during the 2020 season. Mikkelsen received his master’s degree in sports physiology from Texas A&M in December of 2019 after earning his bachelor’s degree in exercise and wellness from Arizona State in 2016. He currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
Danny Helmer is the coordinator of clubhouse operations for the Naturals. He has spent 22 years in various roles in the clubhouse, first for the Wichita Wranglers (nine years) and then as the home clubhouse attendant in Northwest Arkansas (13 years) prior to being the coordinator of clubhouse operations.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. They play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark. For more information, including season updates, ticket options, promotions, groups, and more, visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.