CHARLESTON, SC – The New York Yankees have announced that Patrick Osborn, who skippered the Tampa Yankees this past season, has been named manager of the Charleston RiverDogs for the 2017 campaign.
Osborn becomes the 17th RiverDogs manager in club history and the 27th in the history of the franchise dating back to 1980.
“I’m thrilled about the prospect of Charleston as a place to live and work and I’m excited about the kids that we as a coaching staff will get to work with this year,” said the new RiverDogs skipper. “We’ll see what happens at Spring Training, but we are currently slated to have a number of high profile prospects on our team, and player personnel-wise, it is very exciting.”
Returning to the RiverDogs coaching staff will be second year pitching coach Justin Pope who guided Charleston to one of their most successful seasons on the mound in 2016 while veteran coach Ken Joyce signs on for his first year with the Yankees as Charleston’s hitting coach.
Osborn enters his fourth season in the Yankees system after managing at three different levels since 2014. Taking advantage of a wealth of talent in the Yankees system recently rated as the second best in all of baseball by the MLB Pipeline, the 35-year-old skipper guided the T-Yanks to an impressive 79-56 record and a first-half playoff berth in the Florida State League in 2016.
“The New York Yankees are pleased to have Patrick Osborn leading our coaching staff and players in Charleston in 2017,” said Gary Denbo, Yankees Vice President, Player Development. “One of the top young managers in professional baseball, Patrick’s work ethic, attention to detail, leadership ability and teaching skills will ensure our young players will maximize their potential while competing for the RiverDogs and their fans.”
Osborn holds a 214-115 (.650) career record as a manager in New York’s system after managing the Gulf Coast League Yankees 2 and Staten Island Yankees to playoff berths in 2014 and ’15 respectively. He got his managerial start with the independent league Southern Maryland Blue Crabs who enjoyed a 199-202 (.496) record in three seasons under his tenure (2011-13). Osborn has seen his teams reach the postseason in all six of his previous campaigns as manager including a NYPL Championship Series appearance by Staten Island in 2015.
As a player, the Bakersfield, Calif. native spent parts of 11 seasons in the minor leagues including six in the Cleveland and Houston systems where he hit a combined .274 with 26 home runs, 248 RBIs, 49 stolen bases, and a .343 on-base percentage in 546 career games. The corner infielder reached as high as Double-A before finishing his playing career with the Blue Crabs where he spent five seasons, including three part-time as a player while managing.
In his amateur career, Osborn spent three seasons at the University of Florida where he hit .336 with 22 home runs and 125 RBIs while reaching base at a .406 clip. In 2002, Osborn had one of the all-time great seasons in Gators history when he hit .414 as a junior that still ranks second in school history and collected 104 total hits to tie a program record. Osborn would go on to be selected in the second round of the draft that year by Cleveland.
With Osborn taking over as manager, Luis Dorante, who spent the last three seasons in the Lowcountry, will take over the helm of the Pulaski Yankees in 2017. The Venezuelan native departs Charleston as the second most winningest manager in franchise history with 213 career victories, 19 shy of Torre Tyson who captained the RiverDogs from 2007-09.
Joyce, 52, brings a wealth of experience to the young RiverDogs staff as the veteran hitting coach enters his 21st season as a minor league coach, and his first with the Yankees. The native New Englander has worked for three different organizations prior to the Yankees (Florida, Toronto, and San Francisco), having spent the last five seasons with the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A, Eastern League) in the Giants system.
Joyce’s two decades in professional baseball include six seasons as a manager with the Portland native compiling a 340-316 (.518) record, all at the Single-A and independent levels. He spent a 2004 stint in the SALLY League, leading the Charleston (WV) AlleyCats to a 84-56 record and captaining the North Division squad in the league’s All-Star Game.
He spent two seasons as a hitting coach at the Triple-A level with two different clubs from 2009-10, including an ’09 campaign when the Las Vegas 51’s led the Pacific Coast League in hitting.
Joyce began his professional coaching career with his hometown team, the Portand Sea Dogs, in 1996 as a hitting coach for the Marlins’ Double-A squad after breaking into the staff as a volunteer bullpen catcher the two years prior. As a player, Joyce enjoyed a career at the University of Southern Maine where he set an NCAA record with seven hits in eight at-bats in a Regional Tournament game in 1985 while also appearing in the NAIA World Series that year. He was a three year assistant at his alma mater that included a Division III World Series championship.
Joyce replaces Greg Colbrunn who will take on a role as a roving hitting instructor for the Yankees in 2017. A veteran of 13 major league seasons as a player, the Mt. Pleasant resident spent eight of the last ten years as part of the RiverDogs staff, interrupted only by a two-year stretch (2013-14) as the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox, including their World Series championship year in 2013. The 47-year-old served five seasons as the RiverDogs hitting coach from 2007-09 and 2011-12, one campaign as the club’s manager in 2010, and returned as the hitting coach for the past two seasons.
Returning to the Lowcountry as the pitching coach, Pope guided the RiverDogs 2016 staff to one of the most impressive seasons on the mound in team history. Along with setting a franchise record for punch outs (1,248), the RiverDogs paced the SAL circuit in ERA (3.03), WHIP (1.17), fewest runs (497) and fewest hits allowed (1,015). Along with the success that the Charleston staff had, the 37-year old also excelled in moving players up the ladder and maintaining success amongst a record level of turnover. Charleston saw 36 different pitchers suit up for the RiverDogs, the most in the franchise’s history, with 14 different hurlers moving on to High-A Tampa or above.
Pope came to Charleston by the way of the Appalachian League where the West Palm Beach, Fla. native lead the rookie ball Pulaski Yankees to a league best 3.08 staff ERA in 2015. He served as the manager of Staten Island from 2012-13 with the Baby Bombers compiling a 64-86 record under his tenure. He previously worked on the Double-A Trenton Thunder staff as the pitching coach in 2011 after beginning his coaching career with Staten Island as the pitching coach in 2010.
Originally selected as the 28th overall pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Pope accrued a 38-34 record with a 3.34 ERA over eight minor league seasons with the Cardinals (2001-03), Yankees (2003-07), and Phillies (2008), reaching as high as Triple-A. Prior to his professional career, the right-hander attended the University of Central Florida where he was named an All-American after his junior season in 2001.
Other new additions to the 2017 coaching staff include defensive coach Jose Javier and catching coach Hector Rabago. Javier, 24, makes his coaching debut as part of the Charleston staff after spending eight games in a RiverDogs uniform as a player in 2015. Javier’s stop in Charleston was part of a six year career in the minor leagues (2010-15) when the Dominican infielder hit .250 with 13 homers, 114 RBIs, and 56 stolen bases in 277 games, all with the Yankees at the rookie ball and Single-A levels. Rabago, 28, enters his fourth season in the Yankees organization after working as the defensive coach for the Pulaski Yankees the previous two seasons. The former USC Trojan catcher and infielder began his coaching career in 2013 as the defensive coach for the GCL Yankees.
Michael Sole comes to the Lowcountry for his first season as the RiverDogs trainer while Jeff Dolan takes over as the strength and conditioning coach.
Harris Seletsky returns for his second year as the clubhouse manager. The New York native held the same position with rookie-ball Pulaski in 2015 after previously getting his start in baseball as the RiverDogs’ Director of Operations.
RiverDogs season tickets, half-season ticket packages and mini plans are now available for the 2017 campaign. The RiverDogs begin the season on April 6 when they host the Lexington Legends at Joseph P Riley, Jr. Park. Ticket information can be secured by contacting the box office at (843) 577-DOGS (3647) or online at www.riverdogs.com. Tickets for the RiverDogs 13th Annual Hot Stove Banquet featuring Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine on January 27 are still available on rileyparkevents.com.