ROUND ROCK, Texas – The Texas Rangers revealed the organization’s minor league coaching staffs for the 2024 season on Monday afternoon, including that of the Round Rock Express. After leading the Express to 89 wins and the Pacific Coast League Playoffs in his first season, Manager Doug Davis and most of his coaching staff are set to return for the 2024 campaign.
Bench Coach Chase Lambin, Hitting Coach Matt Lawson, Pitching Coach Dave Borkowski, Development Coach Josh Johnson, Bullpen Coach Demetre Kokoris and Athletic Trainer Will Whitehead are all set to return. Strength & Conditioning Coach Jeff Mathers will be the newcomer on the staff and begin his E-Train era.
Since he began coaching in 1995, Davis has led a minor league team for 11 total seasons and has accumulated a career 755-660 record. In his first season with the Express in 2023, he guided the E-Train to a PCL Second Half title and the club’s first playoff appearance since 2019. The team's 89 total wins were the most regular-season wins in franchise history and just the seventh 80-win campaign in club history. Davis oversaw the longest winning streak in franchise history when the Express won 14 consecutive games last year from August 8-23.
Prior to Round Rock, Davis spent two seasons as the manager for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (New York Yankees Triple-A affiliate). He led the RailRiders to a combined record of 158-119. In 2022, he helped oversee a pitching staff that led all Triple-A teams with a 3.89 ERA. Prior to his time as skipper, Davis spent three years in three different roles with Scranton Wilkes-Barre from 2017-2019. In 2017, he was the defensive coach before moving over to bullpen coach in 2018. In 2019, Davis was named the bench coach.
Before joining the New York Yankees organization, Davis spent 11 years in the Toronto Blue Jays system in a variety of roles. Before he was named manager of the RailRiders in 2021, Davis hadn’t held a manager title since 2008. He spent the 2003-2004 seasons as the bench coach for the Florida Marlins, where he won the 2003 World Series. Davis has also been a minor league field coordinator for the Montreal Expos (2001) and Florida Marlins (2002, 2005). His coaching career began in the Yankees system in 1995.
A catcher and infielder in his playing days, Davis was a ninth-round selection by the California Angels in the 1984 MLB Draft. He played professionally for 11 seasons between the Angels, Rangers and Kansas City Royals organizations. He appeared in seven games in the big leagues and tallied six games in 1988 with the Angels, while appearing in one game for the Rangers in 1992. He is a native of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.
Lambin returns for his fourth season at Dell Diamond as the Express Bench Coach. Round Rock has posted a winning record in all three seasons that Lambin has been on the staff. Before hopping aboard the E-Train in 2021, Lambin spent the 2020 campaign as a member of the Rangers’ Fall Developmental League coaching staff. He previously served as a hitting coach for High-A Down East in 2019, Class-A Hickory in 2018, Short-Season Spokane in 2017 and the Rookie-level Arizona League Rangers in 2016. He first joined the Texas organization as a member of the Spokane coaching staff in 2015.
Lambin’s coaching tenure follows a playing career that spanned 13 seasons at the minor league level. He concluded his time on the field in 2014 with Sugar Land of the independent Atlantic League, playing in 106 games with the Skeeters. Lambin was selected by the New York Mets in the 34th round of the 2002 MLB Draft out of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and played in the Mets (2002-2006), Florida/Miami Marlins (2007-2008, 2012), Washington Nationals (2010), Minnesota Twins (2011) and Kansas City Royals (2013) organizations. He also spent the 2009 season with Chiba Lotte in Japan. The versatile defender appeared at every position except catcher over the course of his career.
Lawson returns to the E-Train for his third season on the Express staff. In 2023, Round Rock hitters manufactured over six runs per game while posting the most walks (733) in a single season in club history. Lawson helped OF Sandro Fabian and OF Elier Hernandez to career bests in 2023. Fabian set career highs in home runs (23), RBI (78) and slugging percentage (.523) while Hernandez set career highs in doubles (36), home runs (18), RBI (99) and on-base percentage (.391). Hernandez also collected the longest hitting streak in franchise history with a 26-game stretch from May 24 – June 25.
In 2022, Lawson helped oversee the offensive development of top prospects such as CF Bubba Thompson, 3B Josh Jung and INF Josh Smith. For eight seasons prior to Round Rock, Lawson served a variety of coaching roles at his alma mater, Missouri State University, including the last four as the club’s hitting instructor and recruiting coordinator. Lawson was a three-year letterwinner at second base for MSU from 2005-2007, picking up second-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors and MSU’s Willis Award as team MVP in 2006. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Missouri State in 2015 before finishing a master’s degree in sports management from MSU in 2017.
A native of Carl Junction, Missouri, Lawson posted a successful seven-year playing career after being drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 14th round of the 2007 MLB Draft. During his career, Lawson advanced as far as Triple-A Columbus with the Cleveland Indians organization, hitting a career-best .327 in 2012 with Double-A Akron. He was named the Short-Season Spokane Indians’ team MVP as a rookie in 2007 and a Class-A California League All-Star in 2009. He followed that performance with an effort that earned him a spot in the Double-A Texas League All-Star Game the following year.
Borkowski returns for his second year in Round Rock after leading the Express pitching staff to the second-lowest ERA in the PCL (4.72). Express LHP Cody Bradford started the season at Dell Diamond and Borkowski helped turn the lefty into the PCL Pitcher of the Year and a mainstay in the Rangers bullpen throughout the 2023 Postseason. Bradford went 9-2 with a 3.63 ERA (30 ER/74.1 IP) in 14 starts for the Express and he issued 16 walks with 65 strikeouts. Borkowski also helped RHP Robert Dugger to one of the best seasons in his career. Dugger was named a PCL All-Star and set a career high in strikeouts (143) while going on to start Game 1 of the PCL Championship series for the Express.
Borkowski was no stranger to Round Rock as he pitched for the Express in 2006 and 2008. He frequented the PCL in 2022 as the pitching coach for the Oklahoma City Dodgers and oversaw a staff that held a 4.87 ERA, the third lowest in the league. He held the same title with the Double-A Tulsa Drillers in 2018-2019 and 2021. Before jumping over to the Dodgers organization, Borkowski served eight seasons as a pitching coach in the Houston Astros organization.
He played 15 professional seasons beginning in 1995 when he was selected in the 11th round by the Detroit Tigers. Borkowski appeared in 181 games in the big leagues over seven seasons with the Tigers (1999-2001), Baltimore Orioles (2004) and Houston Astros (2006-2008).
The right-hander appeared in six games out of the Express bullpen in 2006 and held a 2.57 ERA (2 ER/7.0 IP) with six strikeouts and two walks. When he returned in 2008, Borkowski went 2-2 over 27 appearances and one start. He posted a 2.43 ERA (11 ER/40.2 IP) and had 26 strikeouts with only seven walks. He is a native of Detroit, Michigan.
Kokoris will help Borkowski lead Express pitchers as the Bullpen Coach for the second consecutive year. Last year, Express relievers led the PCL in strikeouts (879) and they were second in ERA (4.41). Kokoris spent 2022 as the pitching coach for the Low-A Down East Wood Ducks. While there, he guided the staff to a 3.84 ERA, the second lowest in the Carolina League. Prior to joining the Rangers system, he made his professional coaching debut as a pitching coach with the Short-A Vancouver Canadians (2019-20) before serving as one of the club’s rehab pitching coaches in 2021. Prior to his Blue Jays tenure, Kokoris gathered several years of experience tutoring pitchers at the collegiate level, including stops at Point Loma Nazarene University, Santa Barbara City College, the University of Oregon and the University of South Carolina. He also currently serves as pitching coach for the Greek National Team, a post he has manned since joining the team’s staff for the 2021 European Baseball Championship tournament in Turin, Italy.
Johnson returns to Round Rock for his third season. He played a role in the growth of OF J.P. Martinez as the lefty went on to make his Major League debut in 2023. Johnson also helped 1B Justin Foscue make the defensive transition to first base for the first time in his professional career.
The Tampa, Florida native served as the Texas Rangers first base coach for the final two months of the year in 2022. In 2021, Johnson made a stint as the manager of the High-A Hickory Crawdads. After the cancellation of the Minor League Baseball season in 2020, Johnson led a group of Rangers prospects in the Fall Developmental League, with both Rangers entries combining to post a 29-10-5 record. He originally joined the organization as a coach for Low-A Hickory in 2019 following one season as the Infield Coach on the San Diego Padres Major League staff in 2018. He also skippered the Gulf Coast League Nationals in the Washington farm system from 2016-2017. He led the GCL Nationals to an East Division title and an appearance in the GCL Championship in 2017, earning him the GCL Manager of the Year award. Under his guidance, outfielder Juan Soto was named GCL Most Valuable Player in 2016.
A switch-hitting infielder in his playing days, Johnson played professionally for 12 seasons in the Kansas City Royals (2004-2009) and Washington Nationals (2010-2015) organizations. He finished his career with a .252 batting average, 35 home runs, 384 RBI, 131 stolen bases and more walks (621) than strikeouts (614) over 1,069 minor league games, reaching as high as the Triple-A level. Johnson was selected by the Royals in the third round of the 2004 MLB Draft out of Middleton High School in Florida. He was an All-America selection in baseball at Middleton and bypassed a full scholarship to the University of Texas to sign with the Royals.
Will Whitehead will return for his second season as the Round Rock Express Athletic Trainer and his 15th season in professional baseball. Whitehead spent the 2022 season as the Athletic Trainer for the Los Angeles Angels Double-A affiliate, the Rocket City Trash Pandas.
Prior to his time in the Angels organization, Whitehead spent 11 years in the Colorado Rockies organization. Before getting involved in professional baseball, he spent time as an Athletic Trainer for the Winter X Games as well as Texas Tech University baseball. He earned his bachelor’s from Stephen F. Austin University and his master’s in athletic training from Texas Tech University.
Jeff Mathers joins the Texas Rangers organization and begins his first season as the Round Rock Strength and Conditioning Coach after serving as a Strength and Conditioning Coordinator in the Seattle Mariners system since 2019. The Ithaca College alum previously spent six seasons as a strength and conditioning instructor in the Detroit Tigers organization, including a brief stint as the club’s Major League Strength and Conditioning Coach towards the end of the 2018 campaign.
The Express kick off the 2024 season on Friday, March 29 against the Sugar Land Space Cowboys (Houston Astros affiliate) at 7:15 p.m. at Dell Diamond. Season memberships and Pick 6 Plans are on sale now. For more information on the Express, visit RRExpress.com or call (512) 255-2255. Keep up with the Express on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!