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Twins announce Minor League staffs

Twins announce Minor League staffs

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Four of the Twins' six Minor League affiliates will have a different manager for the 2010 season.

Minnesota announced its Minor League staff assignments for 2010 on Wednesday, and among the changes, Tom Nieto will begin his first year as manager of Triple-A Rochester and Jake Mauer will move up to manage Class A Fort Myers.

Nieto, 48, is entering his second year as a manager in the Twins' system. He managed at Double-A New Britain in 2009 and led the Rock Cats to a 72-69 record, earning them a second-place finish in the Eastern League. Bobby Cuellar will return for the second consecutive season as Rochester's pitching coach, having also held the role from 2002-05, and Floyd Rayford will begin his first year as the hitting coach at Rochester, after spending the previous five seasons in the role at New Britain. 

With Nieto moving to Rochester, Double-A New Britain will also have a new skipper. Jeff Smith will be entering his first year at New Britain and his fourth as a manager in the organization. Smith, who spent the past two seasons in Fort Myers, will be assisted by pitching coach Stu Cliburn and hitting coach Rudy Hernandez.

Mauer, 30, will begin his first year as manager for the Fort Myers Miracle. Mauer was named the Gulf Coast League Manager of the Year after leading the rookie level GCL Twins to a 34-21 record and a first-place finish in his second year as a manager. His staff will include pitching coach Steve Mintz and hitting coach Jim Dwyer.

The other managerial change is for the GCL Twins, as Chris Heintz enters his first year as a manager. Heintz, 35, was a player in the Twins organization from 2004-07 and spent the final two months of the '09 season as a coach at Class A Beloit. In addition to managing the GCL club, Heintz will also run the Twins' extended Spring Training.

As for the other two affiliates -- Beloit and rookie league Elizabethton -- both will return the same managers. Nelson Prada will begin his third year as manager of the Beloit Snappers, with Gary Lucas as the pitching coach and Tommy Watkins as the hitting coach, in what will be Watkins' first season as a coach after playing in the Twins' system from 1998-09. Ray Smith is entering his 17th season as manager at Elizabethton. Smith, 54, has led his club to 10 first-place finishes in 16 seasons. He'll be joined by pitching coach Jim Shellenback and hitting coach Jeff Reed.

Riccardo Ingram will also return for his 13th season in the organization, moving into a new role as the hitting instructor for both Triple-A and Double-A.

The Twins' roving instructors will include Minor League field coordinator Joel Lepel, pitching coordinator Eric Rasmussen, hitting coordinator Bill Springman, Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator John Kertis and Minor League head athletic trainer and rehab coordinator Lanning Tucker. Jose Marzan will return as the Twins' Latin America coordinator, while Brian Maloney is back as the Florida operations coordinator. Former Twins great Tony Oliva will continue his role as hitting coach while Hall of Famer Paul Molitor will be back in his role as the Minor League infield/baserunning coordinator. Former manager Tom Kelly will also be back in his role as the special assistant to the general manager.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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