The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that Johnny Rodriguez will return as Manager of the Springfield Cardinals for the 2018 season, his second season as the skipper at Hammons Field.
Joining Rodriguez this season will be returning Hitting Coach Jobel Jimenez and new Pitching Coach Darwin Marrero.
“We look forward to having Johnny Rodriguez back at the helm in 2018, and to having him and Hitting Coach Jobel Jimenez grow the foundation they laid last season,” Springfield Cardinals VP of Baseball and Business Operations Scott Smulczenski said. “In addition to guiding last season’s club to a record-tying year, Johnny and Jobel were instrumental in advancing numerous prospects to AAA-Memphis and St. Louis in 2017. Also, we look forward to having some fresh eyes on board in Pitching Coach Darwin Marrero, who brings firsthand experience working with younger Cardinals prospects that we hope to see at Hammons Field soon. We know that this year’s staff will continue to do a tremendous job fostering the future of Cardinals Baseball on and off the field here in Springfield, and we excitedly await Opening Day on April 12.”
Rodriguez, 61, enters his ninth season in the Cardinals organization, most recently having led Springfield to a 77-63 record in 2017, matching the Springfield Cardinals all-time wins record (set in 2012) and tying for the best overall record in the North Division last year. Previously, he led the State College Spikes (Short-A) to the 2016 New York-Penn League Championship. Rodriguez made his Spikes debut in 2015 after managerial stints with Johnson City (Rookie) in 2014, Palm Beach (High-A) in 2012-13 and Quad Cities (Low-A) in 2010-11. Rodriguez has led his teams to three league championships through eight seasons as a manager within the Cardinals system.
Rodriguez’s career in professional baseball spans more than 30 years, starting out in the New York Yankees organization for 17 years before moving to the Montreal Expos as a hitting coach in 2000-01. Rodriguez then joined the then Florida Marlins system from 2002-08, serving as both a manager and a hitting coach. His son, Sean, is a middle infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates and has been in the Major Leagues since making his debut in 2008 with the Los Angeles Angels. Rodriguez makes his home in Pinellas Park, Florida.
Jimenez, 39, will begin his second season as Springfield’s Hitting Coach and his 12th campaign within the Cardinals system. Springfield finished third in the Texas League with a .264 team batting average in 2017 and led the league with 120 stolen bases. Prior to Springfield, Jimenez spent three seasons with the Peoria Chiefs, twice helping them reach the Midwest League Playoffs in addition to seeing them tie for the league lead with a .266 team batting average in 2016.
Jimenez began his career with St. Louis as the hitting coach for the Venezuela Summer League Cardinals (Rookie) from 2007-09, and served in the same capacity for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals (Rookie) in 2013, where he coached with Marrero. Prior to joining the Cardinals, Jimenez worked from 2001-06 for the Boston Red Sox as a scout, outfield instructor and hitting coach in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. A Minor League outfielder in the Los Angeles Dodgers system for two seasons (1993-94), Jimenez moved to the scouting and coaching ranks as an outfield instructor for the Dodgers from 1994-98, before coaching in the Marlins system from 1999-2000.
Marrero, 37, is beginning his sixth season in the Cardinals organization and first with Springfield. Marrero takes over for Jason Simontacchi, who spent the past three seasons as Springfield’s Pitching Coach.
Marrero’s career with St. Louis began as Pitching Coach for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals (Rookie) from 2013-14 with his most recent stint (2015-2017) coming in the same role with the State College Spikes (Class-A), where he spent two seasons coaching with Rodriguez. The 2016 Spikes recorded a league-low 1.76 ERA in the New York-Penn League Playoffs on their way to capturing the league championship. State College led the league with nine shutouts and had the second fewest runs allowed (285) as a staff in 2016. Marrero’s pitching staffs have led their league in shutouts and ranked first or second in fewest runs allowed in two of the past four seasons.
Prior to joining the Cardinals system, Marrero was Pitching Coach for the Sioux City Explorers in the American Association (2008). The Explorers staff compiled a league-best ERA, boasted the Pitcher of the Year and their closer established a new league saves record. In 2005, he was Pitching Coach for the Capitales de Quebec in the Can-Am League while also throwing 38 innings as a player. Marrero’s playing career spanned seven seasons from 1998-2004 with the Montreal Expos organization, attaining his highest level at Double-A with the Harrisburg Senators in 2002 and 2004.