Leland native Steve Mintz named pitching coach of Down East Wood Ducks

KINSTON, NC (DOWN EAST WOOD DUCKS RELEASE) — The Down East Wood Ducks today announced the club’s 2017 coaching staff.

Manager Howard Johnson, hitting coach Bobby Rose, and athletic trainer Alex Rodriguez come to the Wood Ducks from the Rangers former High-A Affiliate, the High Desert Mavericks. They will be joined by pitching coach Steve Mintz and strength and conditioning coach Al Sandoval to comprise the coaching staff for the team’s inaugural flight.

Johnson enters his second season in the Rangers organization after managing the Mavericks to the California League Championship last year. High Desert won a league best 82 games in the 2016 regular season and captured the first league championship by a High-A Texas affiliate since the 2002 Charlotte Rangers won the Florida State League title. The new Wood Ducks skipper was named the California League Manager of the Year for his role in the Mavericks’ success last season.

A native of nearby Leland, NC, Mintz returns to his home state after serving as the pitching coach for the Rangers Double-A affiliate Frisco Roughriders in 2016. A former standout in the Japanese Central League, Rose enters his fifth season as a hitting instructor in the Rangers organization. Rodriguez comes to the Wood Ducks after working the both the AZL and DSL Rangers, as well as High Desert. Sandoval is the only new name for the organization and joins the Rangers after working for Los Angeles-AL and Colorado.


 Howard Johnson, Manager

Johnson, 56, enters his second season in the Rangers organization after leading High Desert to an 82-58 record in the regular season in 2016. It marked the best record in the California League, and the Mavericks went on to win the League Championship.

A former All-Star third baseman, Johnson served as the Seattle Mariners’ major league hitting coach from November 26, 2013 through June 20, 2015. Prior to his time with Seattle, Johnson spent 11 seasons in the Mets organization in various roles, including major league hitting coach (2008-10), minor league instructor (2001-07), and professional scout (1997-2001).

Johnson was a two-time All-Star during a 14-year big league career with the Tigers (1982-84), Mets (1985-93), Rockies (1994), and Cubs (1995),winning a pair of Silver Slugger Awards. He was part of the 1984 Detroit Tigers and 1986 New York Mets World Series Championship teams. In 1987, Johnson became the second infielder in major league history to register a 30-30 season after hitting 36 home runs and stealing 30 bases, and accomplished the feat again in 1989 (36 HR, 41 SB) and 1991 (38 HR, 30 SB). Johnson led the National League in home runs (38) and RBI (117) in 1991, becoming the first switch-hitter to lead the National League in home runs.

Steve Mintz, Pitching Coach

Mintz, 48, enters his fifth season in the Rangers organization, after spending 2016 as the Frisco Roughriders Pitching coach and logging his first four seasons as a pitching coach for the club’s High-A affiliate. The former major leaguer has 16 years of experience as a minor league pitching instructor.

Mintz joined the Texas organization prior to the 2013 campaign after 11 seasons as a pitching coach at various levels within the Minnesota Twins organization. His coaching career began with Los Angeles-AL in 2011, when he became the pitching coach for the organization’s short season clubs following his retirement midway through the campaign.

The righthander pitched professionally for 12 seasons with Los Angeles (NL), Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles (AL) organizations after he was originally drafted as a catcher by the Dodgers in the 1990 June Draft.

Bobby Rose, Hitting Coach

Rose, 49, begins his fifth season as a hitting instructor with the Texas organization and third at the High-A level after spending two seasons in High Desert. He made his professional coaching debut with Short-Season Spokane in 2013 and spent the 2014 campaign mentoring the hitters at Low-A Hickory.

Prior to joining the coaching ranks, he enjoyed a standout career in Japan with the Yokohoma BayStars and Chiba Lotte Marines in the Japanese Central League from 1993-2000 and 2003. Rose led the BayStars to a league championship in 1998 and batted .339 with 37 home runs and 153 RBI in 1999, setting a Central League record with 192 hits that was broken six years later by current major league outfielder Norichika Aoki. In the field, Rose earned the Central League Golden Glove Award at second base in 1998.

Rose was a 5th round selection in the 1985 amateur draft by Los Angeles-AL out of San Dimas (CA) High School and played eight seasons in the Angels organization, making his Major League debut in 1989. He played in 73 major league games from 1989-92 before signing with the BayStars.


Alex Rodriguez, Athletic Trainer

Rodriguez, 26, begins his sixth season in the Texas organization and second as the High-A trainer after serving the same role for High Desert in 2016. The Puerto Rico native will be working for his fourth affiliate in the last four years after spending the 2015 campaign with the AZL Rangers. He was a part of two DSL Championship clubs as the trainer for the DSL Rangers from 2012-14. In 2013, Rodriguez was named the DSL Trainer of the Year.

Al SandovalStrength and Conditioning

Sandoval joins the Wood Ducks after spending two seasons as the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the Los Angeles Angels.  Prior to working in the Angels organization, Sandoval spent four seasons in the Colorado Rockies minor league system, including three seasons with the Rockies Double-A affiliate in Tulsa, OK.

Sandoval graduated from Colorado State University-Pueblo, where he was an assistant strength and conditioning for the baseball team.

For more information on the Down East Wood Ducks, please visit WoodDucksBaseball.com. Follow the new team on the following social media platforms: Twitter @GoWoodDucks, Facebook.com/GoWoodDucks, and Instagram @GoWoodDucks.

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