RockHounds Extend Affiliation with Oakland Athletics; Field Staff to Return in 2012


Manager Steve Scarsone Returns For 2012 Season

Steve Scarsone will return to manage the RockHounds in the 2012 Texas League season, with the entire field staff remaining intact from 2011.

Pitching coach Don Schulze and hitting coach Tim Garland each returns for his second season with the RockHounds, along with Athletic Trainer Justin Whitehouse, who enters his fifth season with the club.

The Oakland Athletics, Major League parent club of the RockHounds, made the announcement today, unveiling field staff assignments for the organization’s six minor league affiliates (Triple-A, Double-A, Advanced-A, Single-A, Short Season-A and Rookie levels).

The RockHounds and A’s have also announced a two-year extension to their current player development contract (PDC), continuing the affiliation through the 2014 season.

The RockHounds have been Oakland’s class Double-A affiliate since 1999.

In 2011, “Scars” found himself doing something he had yet to do as a minor league manager: heading home after the regular season. For the first time in five managerial seasons, his club failed to reach the playoffs. The RockHounds struggled to a 27-43 mark in the first half of the 2011 season, then rebounded to finish 36-34 in the second half. The entire league (the South Division, in particular) was “looking up” at San Antonio all year, as the
Missions swept both half-season pennant races and posted the top record in all of Minor League Baseball (94-46) en route to the Texas League title.

Scarsone, who spent parts of seven seasons in the Major Leagues during his playing career, is now in his fourth season in the Oakland organization. He managed Kane County in 2009 before leading Stockton to a tremendous second half turnaround and a berth in the California League playoffs (thanks to a league-best 43-27 second half record) in 2010. His first two minor league managerial assignments came with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization in 2001 and 2002. With both the Diamondbacks and A’s, he managed in the (Single-A) Midwest and (Advanced-A) California Leagues. Last season was his first at the Double-A level.

In his big league playing career (1992-1999), Steve played for Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco, St. Louis and Kansas City. His finest season came with the San Francisco Giants in 1995, when the infielder hit .266 with 11 home runs and 29 RBI in 80 games.

Steve Scarsone’s minor league managerial record:

Year Team League Class 1st H 2nd H Season Pct Div. Finish Overall
2001 South Bend Midwest A 32-35 38-31 70-66 .515 4th / 3rd 6th of 14
2002 Lancaster California Adv-A 23-47 40-30 63-77 .450 5th / 3rd 8th of 10
2009 Kane County Midwest A 39-29 33-37 72-66 .522 2nd / 6th T-6 of 14
2010 Stockton California Adv-A 31-39 43-27 74-66 .529 2nd / 1st 5th of 10
2011 RockHounds Texas AA 27-43 36-34 63-77 .450 3rd / 3rd 6th of 8

– South Bend reached the 2001 Midwest League Championship Series (subsequently canceled due to the events of 9/11)
– Lancaster (2002), Kane County (2009) and Stockton (2010) each reached the opening round of the playoffs

The former first round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs (1980) enters his seventh season as a pitching coach in the A’s organization and his second with the RockHounds. He joined the A’s in 2006, serving as pitching coach for Oakland’s Arizona Rookie League club. He spent the next two seasons with Kane County of the (Single-A) Midwest League before joining Stockton’s staff in 2009. Selected 11th overall by Chicago in the 1980 draft, Don spent parts of five seasons (1983-89) in the big leagues, pitching for the Cubs, Indians, Mets, Yankees and Padres. Ironically, he never pitched at the Double-A level for Chicago, whose AA club during that time was the Midland Cubs.

After a 15-season minor league career, Garland is now in his seventh season as a hitting coach with Oakland and his second with the RockHounds. He joined the A’s organization, serving as hitting coach for (Single-A) Kane County, in 2006. He moved up to (Advanced-A) Stockton the following year and spent the next four seasons with the Ports. Tim played for the RockHounds in 1999, the first season of the Oakland affiliation (and the first season of the RockHounds era), hitting .289 with six home runs, 55 RBI and 28 stolen bases.

Justin returns for his fifth season with the RockHounds and his 12th as an Athletic Trainer in the Oakland organization. He was named RockHounds Athletic Trainer in 2008 after serving five seasons in the same capacity with the Kane County Cougars (at the time, Oakland’s Single-A affiliate), and was named Midwest League Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2007. Justin is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno (where his wife, Susan, is an Athletic Hall of Fame member and recently accepted a position on the university’s swimming and diving team’s coaching staff) and earned his Master’s Degree at San Diego State University.

“Across the board,” Oakland made very few changes among its minor league field staffs for the 2012 season. One of the few exceptions involves a pair of former RockHounds managers, who will “swap” positions. Greg Sparks takes over as hitting coach for the (Triple-A) Sacramento RiverCats, and Todd Steverson moves from that position to become the organization’s Minor League Roving Hitting Instructor (a role Sparks has held for the past eight seasons). Throughout the organization, there are plenty of familiar names with direct ties to the RockHounds (see below).

Another former RockHounds field staff member has returned to the Oakland organization at the Major League level, as Curt Young has re-joined the A’s. Young, who was with the RockHounds in 2000 and 2001, returns for what will be his eighth season as Oakland’s pitching coach. He served in the same capacity with the Boston Red Sox last season.

Other RockHounds alumni on the A’s “farm:”

Darren Bush – Manager / Sacramento RiverCats
“Bushy” guided the RockHounds to back-to-back appearances in the Texas League Championship Series in 2009 and 2010, winning the title in the first of those seasons. In 2011, he led the RiverCats to the Pacific Coast League playoffs, posting the league’s best regular season record (88-56).

Scott Emerson – Pitching Coach / Sacramento RiverCats
“Emo” was promoted to the Triple-A level, with Darren Bush, in 2011, after four seasons as RockHounds pitching coach.

Webster Garrison – Manager / Stockton Ports
“Webby” enters his second season managing Oakland’s affiliate in the (Advanced-A) California League, after leading the Ports to a playoff berth last season. He was a member of the ‘Hounds as a player, coach, or manager in nine of the team’s first 13 seasons. Webby managed the club in 2004 and 2008, and served as hitting coach for each of the RockHounds’ four playoff clubs between 2005 and 2010.

Craig Lefferts & Brian McArn – Stockton Ports
A 14-year Major Leaguer, “Lefty” was both a player (Cubs, 1981) and pitching coach (RockHounds, 2003), while “Mac” enters his 15th season as a hitting coach with the A’s, including one season (2004) with the RockHounds.

Aaron Nieckula – Manager / Burlington Bees
A former catcher in the A’s system, Nieckula played very briefly (12 games) with the ‘Hounds in 2001. He enters his seventh season as a manager at the Single-A level with the A’s, and has a Midwest League title (2006) on his résumé.

Casey Myers – Hitting Coach / Vermont Lake Monsters
“Casey At The Bat” played parts of four seasons with the RockHounds between 2004 and 2008, and was a key member of the 2005 Texas League championship club (he hit .348 in the playoffs). Casey enters his fourth season as Oakland’s Short-Season A hitting coach.

The extension of the working agreement between the RockHounds and Oakland Athletics will make the affiliation the longest in franchise history.

The 2012 season marks the 14th year of the affiliation between the RockHounds and the Oakland Athletics, matching the 14 seasons in which the Anaheim/California Angels were the franchise’s parent club (1985-1998). The franchise was affiliated with the Chicago Cubs for the first 13 seasons of its existence (1972-1984).

Of the 30 class Double-A teams in the nation, only six have longer-standing affiliations than that of the ‘Hounds and Oakland. It should be mentioned that two Texas League franchises, Northwest Arkansas and Corpus Christi, have affiliation ties dating back to the mid-1990’s, but each franchise has re-located at least once during that time (NW Arkansas from Wichita, Kansas and Corpus Christi from Round Rock, Texas and Jackson, Mississippi.).

In 1999, when an affiliation change was in the works, the franchise also elected to adopt its own nickname (rather than utilize the big league club’s name as it had with the Cubs and Angels), and the “RockHounds” era began.

On the field, the A’s / RockHounds affiliation has been, by far, the most successful. Of the five trips to the Texas League Championship Series, three have come in the current affiliation (2005, 2009, 2010), including the only two outright league titles in franchise history (2005 and 2009).

Note: Each of the 30 Major League clubs has one Triple-A and one Double-A affiliate among its minor league clubs. Double-A teams are divided into three leagues: Eastern (12 teams), Southern (10) and Texas (8) Leagues.

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