LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' two rookie-level affiliates — in Ogden and in Arizona — are geared toward development, the coaches in place so far lend nicely to that role.
With rosters often nearly filled with this season's draft picks and other young international players, these stops are usually the very first organized professional baseball, at least domestically, for many. So it is fitting that John Shoemaker, the Dodgers' appointed captain of player development is managing in the Arizona League.
Shoemaker, 59, managed the AZL Dodgers in 2014, then managed Ogden last year. The definition of a baseball lifer, Shoemaker has coached in the Dodgers system since 1981, and 2016 will be his 23rd season as a manager.
The rookie level seasons start over two months later than the other four domestic affiliates, with Ogden opening Pioneer League play on June 17, and the AZL Dodgers start three days later. So it makes sense that Larkin is also taking on the role of coordinator of skills development for the Dodgers in addition to his managing duties.
The 36-year-old Larkin, a Garden Grove native who played baseball at Cal State Northridge, seems suited for the role.
"Quite simply, Lark is focused on making the work we do more efficient and effective. He knows we can't just fall back on drills without merit," said Dodgers director of player development Gabe Kapler. "Everything we do in our practice should be with a deliberate purpose, and Lark is leading the charge in that regard. He's fired up on a daily basis about changing the way we work in player development."
Joining Larkin in Ogden is pitching coach Don Alexander, who was pitching coach for Class-A Lancaster in the loaded Astros farm system in the last four seasons. Alexander, 57, has coached for 24 years, including 20 years in Houston's organization.
Greg Sabat and Aaron Bates return as pitching coach and hitting coach, respectively, for the AZL Dodgers, Sabat in his fourth season in the Dodgers' organization and Bates in his second season with the franchise. Robert Fick will serve as co-hitting coach with Arizona, also in his second season coaching for the Dodgers, having spent 2015 as a roving instructor.
Prior to joining the Dodgers, Sabat was a minor league pitching coach for 15 years in the Rangers' system.
The Raptors haven't yet named their hitting coach or fourth coach.
|Rookie-level Ogden Raptors Coaching Staff|
|2015 Ogden||Position||2016 Ogden||2015 position|
|John Shoemaker||Manager||Shaun Larkin||Class-A Lake County manager (Indians)|
|Bobby Cuellar||Pitching coach||Don Alexander||Class-A Lancaster pitching coach (Astros)|
|Darryl Brinkley||Hitting coach||TBD||n/a|
|Angel Sanchez||Fourth coach||TBD||n/a|
|Rookie-level Arizona League Dodgers Coaching Staff|
|2015 AZL Dodgers||Position||2016 AZL Dodgers||2015 position|
|Jack McDowell||Manager||John Shoemaker||Rookie-level Ogden manager|
|Greg Sabat||Pitching coach||Greg Sabat||same|
|Aaron Bates||Hitting coach||Aaron Bates & Robert Fick||same / roving instructor|
|Gil Velazquez||Fourth coach||TBD||n/a|
Of last year's rookie-level staffs, both Gil Velazquez and Bobby Cuellar are now in Class-A Great Lakes for 2016, as manager and pitching coach, respectively.