The Chicago Cubs announced their minor league coaching staff assignments for the upcoming 2015 campaign Wednesday with 2014 manager Buddy Bailey returning to the Tennessee Smokies, along with 2014 pitching coach Storm Davis, hitting coach Desi Wilson and trainer Shane Nelson. Guillermo Martinez also joins the Smokies' 2015 field staff for his first season in Kodak as an assistant coach.
2015 will mark the fifth season at the helm of the Smokies for Bailey, becoming the first manager in the franchise's Southern League history to manage that many years. The Virginia native has amassed 276 victories over his first four seasons with Tennessee during the 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014 campaigns, and in his Tennesee tenure has had a hand in developing many players who have gone on to play in the Major Leagues, including Jeff Samardzija, Welington Castillo, Junior Lake, Sam Fuld, Tyler Colvin, Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler.
Bailey brings a wealth of knowledge and experience back to Kodak, and will enter his 33rd season as a Minor League instructor in 2015, including his 10th in the Chicago Cubs organization. It will also be his 26th managerial season in the Minor Leagues, having recorded 1,694 victories over that period of time. Bailey has previously been named the International League's Manager of the Year twice while with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox during the 1996 and 2003 seasons and also led the Class A Advanced Daytona Cubs to the 2011 Florida State League Championship.
Wilson also comes back to the Smokies for his third consecutive year as hitting coach, in addition to his eighth in the Cubs organization. Combined over his first two seasons in Kodak, Tennessee's offense ranks first among all Southern League teams in batting average (.256), hits (2,342), doubles (516), home runs (217), total bases (3,645) and slugging percentage (.398). Wilson has also worked with many of the Chicago Cubs' top offensive prospects, as well as some of the best in baseball, in Baez, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Albert Almora, Soler and Alcantara among others, with Bryant ending the 2014 campaign second in the league in homers despite only playing the first half of the season with the Smokies.
Wilson has held the same position with Daytona (2012), Class A Short Season Boise Hawks (2009, 11) and Rookie-level Mesa Cubs (2008, 10) prior to his time in Tennessee. The Arizona resident appeared in 41 games as a player for the San Francisco Giants in 1996, batting .271 with two home runs and 12 RBIs and also posted a .307 batting average in 10 Minor League seasons with five different organizations (Texas, San Francisco, Arizona, Chicago White Sox and Montreal). He originally was drafted as a player in the 15th round of the 1987 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox, though he did not sign, before being selected in the 30th round of the 1991 draft by the Texas Rangers.
Davis returns to Tennessee for his second consecutive season as pitching coach after managing a staff that included four of the Chicago Cubs' top pitching prospects according to Baseball America, including a pair of the publication's top 100 preseason overall prospects in C.J. Edwards (No. 28) and Pierce Johnson (No. 98). The club finished the 2014 campaign ranking third in the Southern League in strikeouts (1,026), while starter Corey Black tied for first among all Southern League hurlers in batting average against (.224), in addition to third in strikeouts (119) and tied for eighth in earned-run average (3.47).
Prior to working as pitching coach with Daytona (2013) and Class A Hickory Crawdads (2012), Davis pitched in the Major Leagues for 13 seasons from 1982-94 and was a member of three World Series clubs, including the Baltimore Orioles (1983) and Oakland Athletics (1989). In total, the Florida native posted a 113-96 record and 4.02 ERA over 442 games (239 starts) in the Major Leagues.
Newcomer Guillermo Martinez joins the Smokies as an assistant coach after holding the same role with Boise in 2014. In his first season in the Cubs organization last season, Martinez assisted the Hawks in pacing the Northwest League in triples (27), RBIs (392), total bases (1,052), on-base percentage (.353) and slugging percentage (.398), in addition to tying for first in batting average (.274) and hits (725). Prior to serving as a hitting coach in the Toronto Blue Jays system in 2012 and 2013, the Florida native played three years of professional ball in the Miami Marlins organization and was selected by the Marlins in the 15th round of the 2006 MLB Draft out of the University of South Alabama.
Trainer Shane Nelson also comes back to Tennessee for his second straight season. The upcoming campaign will also be Nelson's fifth in the Cubs organization after stints with Class A Kane County (2013) and Class A Peoria (2012). Nelson began his current employment with the Chicago Cubs in 2011 as an athletic training intern.
The Smokies are slated to begin the 2015 campaign on the road against the Mississippi Braves, the Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, on Thursday, April 9, before returning to Tennessee to begin their 2015 home slate on Wednesday, April 15 versus the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Season ticket and multi-game voucher plans are currently available. To learn more about those plans and about the Smokies' new Smokies Plus Membership packages, please click here or by call the Smokies Ticket Office at (865) 286-2300.