The Kansas City Royals have filled out their minor league coaching staff for the 2018 season, highlighted with three new managers at the AA and Rookie levels.
With former Northwest Arkansas Naturals manager Vance Wilson leaving for the big league staff, the Royals filled their managerial opening at the AA level with long time coach Mike Rojas. The last name might sound familiar, as he is the son of former Royals second baseman Cookie Rojas, who spent parts of eight seasons with the club from 1970-1977.
Mike Rojas is a former minor league catcher who played in the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays organization. After his career, he became an assistant coach in the college ranks, which later would propel him to a variety of roles across the minor league ranks, such as director of player development, field coordinator, catching instructor, and even a few managerial stints in the White Sox, Tigers, Astros, and Reds organizations. After spending two years as the Seattle Mariners bench coach in 2014 and 2015, he returned to the minor leagues, managing the AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, the Toledo Mud Hens.
Taking over for the Rookie League Burlington Royals will be Brooks Conrad. A former journeyman infielder, he spent parts of six seasons in the major leagues with five different teams. He last played organized baseball with the Independent League Sugar Land Skeeters in 2016. This will be his first experience as a manager.
Another familiar name will be taking head of a Royals affiliate in 2018. Fulfilling the role of manager for the AZL Royals will be former infielder (and pitcher!) Tony Pena Jr. The son of former Royals manager Tony Pena, he spent three seasons with the Royals, batting .228/.247/.298 in 287 games. Like Conrad, this will be his first taste of managing.