The Twins will make no changes to their minor league managerial roster for 2021. Except for the biggest change of all.
Toby Gardenhire, Ramon Borrego, Brian Dinkelman and Aaron Sutton have all been rehired to do the jobs they were deprived of when the 2020 minor league season was canceled. Gardenhire will be in the dugout in St. Paul (Class AAA), Borrego in Wichita (AA), Dinkelman at Cedar Rapids (high Class A) and Sutton at Fort Myers (low Class A), the same foursome the Twins put in charge a year ago.
The only name missing is the most familiar one: Ray Smith, who led the Twins' rookie-league team in Elizabethton, Tenn., for 26 years. As a result of the realignment of minor league baseball, the Appalachian League and Elizabethtown are no longer part of affiliated baseball, and Smith was let go by the Twins in December.
For three of the managers who were retained, however, 2021 is a chance, albeit delayed, to test themselves at a new level. Gardenhire, for instance, has managed at both levels of Class A, but will be making his debut at minor league baseball's highest level in St. Paul's first season aligned with the Twins.
Borrego led the Twins' entry-level Gulf Coast League team for eight seasons before being promoted to Class A in 2019; now he'll become the first manager of the Wichita Wind Surge, the Twins' new AA affiliate. And Sutton comes to the Twins after three seasons as head coach at Montana State-Billings.
Dinkelman, who played in 23 games with the Twins in 2011, is back with the Kernels, with whom he made his managerial debut in 2019.
Gardenhire, whose father, Ron, managed the Twins for 13 seasons, played in the Twins' minor league system for seven years after being drafted in 2005, and he managed Class A teams for the organization in 2018 (Cedar Rapids) and 2019 (Fort Myers). The 38-year-old was promoted to the helm of their Class AAA Rochester team last spring, before the 2020 minor league season was canceled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Gardenhire's staff in St. Paul will include hitting coach Matt Borgschulte, pitching coaches Mike McCarthy and Cibney Bello, infield coach Tyler Smarslok, trainer Jason Kirkman and strength coach Jacob Dean.
The Twins' rookie level Gulf Coast League team will be managed by Takashi Miyoshi, who was a coach at Elizabethton from 2018-19. The Twins' rookie-level team in the Dominican Republic will be managed by Seth Feldman.
For the organization, Alex Hassan returns as director of player development and Drew MacPhail is back as assistant director along with Tommy Bergjans.
Kevin Morgan will continue as field coordinator after joining the Twins in 2020 following 25 seasons in the Mets organization. Tucker Frawley will be the assistant. The minor league coaching coordinators are Donegal Fergus (hitting), Michael Thomas (catching), Billy Boyer (infield) and Mike Quade (outfield). Justin Willard is pitching coordinator, with Zach Bove as assistant pitching coordinator. Nat Ballenberg will be special projects pitching coordinator. Brian Maloney will be senior manager of minor league operations.