SPRINGDALE, AR - The Kansas City Royals announced that veteran skipper Brian Poldberg
will be returning to Northwest Arkansas for a fifth consecutive season to manage the Naturals in 2012. The only manager the Naturals have ever known, Poldberg guided Northwest Arkansas to a 73-64 record in 2011, culminating in a second-half division championship and the Naturals' fourth playoff appearance in as many seasons.
Poldberg's coaches from last season, Pitching Coach Larry Carter
and Hitting CoachTerry Bradshaw
, also return intact to form, by far, the Texas League's most experienced coaching staff and the same staff that brought Northwest Arkansas a Texas League Championship after the 2010 season.
In his 29 seasons with the Kansas City Royals organization, the 54-year old Poldberg has served as a minor league player, roving instructor, and minor league manager in addition to his tenure on the Major League staff, where he served as the third base coach under former Royals' skipper Buddy Bell during the 2007 season, capping four consecutive seasons on the Royals' Major League staff that saw him coach first base during the 2006 season and serve as the Royals' bullpen coach during the 2004-05 seasons.
The Carter Lake, IA resident began his baseball career in 1980 as a catcher playing in the New York Yankees farm system. He went on to play six years in the minor leagues, reaching Triple-A with the Omaha Royals in 1985. He is a graduate of Emporia (Kan.) State University and owns a bachelor's degree in business administration.
Poldberg's career minor league managerial record now stands at 764-755 (.503). With over 1500 games of minor-league managerial experience, including playoffs, Poldberg is not only the Texas League's most tenured active skipper but one of the more experienced managers in all of the minor leagues. Under his guidance, the Naturals have won more games than any other team in the Texas League since the Naturals' inaugural season in 2008.
For his part, Carter, a 46-year old Corinth, TX resident, will be entering his 11th season as the pitching coach for the Royals' Double-A team after spending six seasons with the Wichita Wranglers prior to the move to Springdale. The winner of the 2008 Texas League coach of the year award, named for former Tulsa Drillers' Hitting Coach Mike Coolbaugh, 2012 will be Carter's 15th season in the Royals' organization.
Known for his ability to help young pitchers progress, Carter has been credited with instrumental contributions to the career development of former Royal Zack Greinke as well as some of the current group of Royals prospects that have been on the receiving end of his wisdom during their time in the Texas League.
Carter was originally selected in the 10th round of the 1986 June Free Agent Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He played in the Cardinals system for 2 years before joining the San Francisco Giants organization and was named to the Texas League All-Star team in 1991. He appeared in six games at the Major League level with the 1992 Giants and was 1-5 with a 4.64 ERA.
Bradshaw will spend his fourth season tutoring Naturals' hitters. He came to Northwest Arkansas after a five year stint as the Hitting Coach for Triple-A Omaha. The 42-year old Franklin, VA native previously spent four years as hitting coach for three of Kansas City's Class-A affiliates: Wilmington (2002-2003), Burlington (2001) and Charleston (2000).
Bradshaw began his professional playing career after he was a 9th round draft pick by St. Louis in 1990 and spent eight years playing in the Cardinals system, including two brief stops at the Major League level during the 1995 and 1996 seasons. In 65 major league at-bats over 34 games, the outfielder hit .262. He was a member of the 1994 Arkansas Travelers, where he earned a spot on the league's post-season All-Star team.
The Naturals will welcome in two new members of the field staff for 2012 in Athletic Trainer Masa Koyanagi
and Strength and Conditioning Coach George Timke
, who will take over the posts filled last season by Tony Medina
and Joey Greany
, respectively. Medina has been named as the Royals' Latin America Medical Coordinator, while Greany will serve as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for Triple-A Omaha in 2012.
Koyanagi will be serving in his fifth season as a trainer in the Royals' system. The Fukuoka, Japan native worked last season as the trainer for Advanced Class-A Wilmington. Prior to his time in the Royals' organization, Koyanagi spent the 2007 season on the staff of the Tampa Bay Rays, where he served as an interpreter for former Major League infielder Akinori Iwamura. He also served as an Athletic Trainer in the Milwaukee Brewers organization for four seasons from 2003-2006. In 2006, he served as the trainer for the champion Japanese squad in the World Baseball Classic. He resides in Peoria, AZ with his wife and two daughters.
Timke is in his fourth season in the Royals' organization as a minor league strength coach and served in the same role last season for Wilmington. He is a resident of Orange County, New York.
In a related announcement, the Royals announced that former Natural and Springdale resident Vance Wilson
will move up a level this year to skipper the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Royals' Advanced Class-A affiliate in the Carolina League. This will be Wilson's second season managing in the minor leagues.
A veteran of eight big-league seasons, Wilson retired from his playing career in 2010 after attempting a comeback from a second Tommy John surgery and served last season as the manager for the Royals' Class-A Kane County affiliate. Under Wilson's tutelage, Kane County, a team which included former Razorback Brett Eibner, won a wild-card playoff spot and advanced to the second round of the Midwest League playoffs.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale.
The 2012 home opener is Thursday, April 12th. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com
, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.