Who's going to guide the 'Piggies in 2013?

Who's going to guide the 'Piggies in 2013?

The Phillies gave Ryne Sandberg a well-deserved promotion. The move opens up a hole for someone to step into as the new manager at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. We've got a look at some of the candidates.

With Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg jumping up to coach at the major league level, there is at least one opening in the Phillies minor league system for a manager. It's very likely that Sandberg's exit could result in a domino effect for managers in the system, with everybody moving up a level and someone new coming in at the bottom part of the system. It's also possible that the Phillies would look outside their system, or to a coach with one of the minor league clubs, to fill Sandberg's office or perhaps one of the other potential openings.

Of the minor league managers in the system right now, Dusty Wathan is likely regarded as the one with the best potential to manage at the major league level. He could well be on his way to managing with Lehigh Valley, but there have been other names floated as well. Wathan has just one year in at Reading and was successful, leading his team into the Eastern League Playoffs. With some of the R-Phils likely headed to Triple-A in 2013, there is something to be said for moving Wathan right along with them.

Wathan has moved steadily up the ranks in the Phillies minor league system and has managed to put together four winning seasons out of the five that he's spent as a minor league manager. On his resume, Wathan can boast leading the Lakewood BlueClaws to the 2009 South Atlantic League Championship. He spent two seasons at Clearwater prior to being rewarded with the Double-A job last off-season. In his five seasons as a minor league manager, Wathan has put together an impressive 334-296 record.

Chris Truby, Mickey Morandini and Andy Tracy are all well-respected in the organization, but none are likely to get the job at Lehigh Valley. They could all be in line for climbing a step up the minor league ladder though. GCL manager Rolano De Armas has been a mainstay at that level and isn't at all likely to move up to Lehigh Valley or even move out of the Gulf Coast League.

Two names that should be mentioned in the potential list of managers for Lehigh Valley are IronPigs hitting coach Sal Rende and Clearwater Threshers hitting coach John Mizerock.

Rende is becoming one of those organizational guys who goes wherever the Phillies need him. He's worked as the Phillies Triple-A hitting coach at both Scranton and Ottawa from 2004-2007 before taking over as the Phillies Minor League Hitting Coordinator for three years prior to rejoining the Triple-A staff when Sandberg took over as the manager at Lehigh Valley in 2011.

Mizerock's name has been mentioned, but he doesn't quite have the pedigree that the Phillies like to have in minor league managers. First, Mizerock never played in the Phillies organization, which isn't a deal-breaker, but the Phillies do tend to prefer that their minor league managers have been part of the organization. Second - and perhaps most important - Mizerock was arrested last July under suspicion for DUI. He's been in the organization for two seasons now and was widely respected as a minor league manager and coach in the Kansas City Royals organization and served as the Royals major league bullpen coach for two seasons, but they did not renew his contract following the 2009 season.

The IronPigs figure to be a younger team next season, with a few key players from Double-A Reading climbing up a level. In general, the Phillies prefer managers who are well engaged with the players and who will easily gain their respect. With those qualities in mind, it's easiest to imagine Wathan in the role as the 'Pigs manager, but Rende would be a close second.

The Phillies will also have to find a new pitching coach for Lehigh Valley. Reading's Bob Milacki would be a top candidate and minor league pitching coordinator Gorman Heimueller is always mentioned when any top of the organization pitching coach position opens up.


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