January 10, 2018 - Texas League (TL) - Northwest Arkansas Naturals
SPRINGDALE, Ark. - The Kansas City Royals announced today the 2018 field staffs for all of their minor league affiliates. Long-time minor league skipper, Mike Rojas, has been named the third manager of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals following the off-season promotion of Vance Wilson, whom managed the Naturals for the previous four seasons, to Bullpen Coach for the Royals.
The rest of the field staff will remain the same as the 2017 season as, Steve Luebber will return as pitching coach for the third consecutive season after serving in the same role at Advanced-A Wilmington for the previous nine years. Leon Roberts enters his second season as the Naturals hitting coach. Roberts played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues as an outfielder, including his last two seasons (1983-84) in Kansas City. Certified athletic trainer Masa Koyanagi will return for his 11th season with the Royals and seventh in his current role with the Naturals. Jarret Abell will return for his second season as the Naturals' strength and conditioning coach after serving in the same role at Advanced-A Wilmington (2016), Class-A Lexington (2015) and Rookie level Idaho Falls (2014).
Rojas, 55, is a native of Miami and has been involved with professional baseball all of his life as he is the son of Cookie Rojas, a Kansas City Royals' Hall of Famer and five-time Major League All-Star. Mike began his professional career in 1983 with the Idaho Falls A's before retiring following the 1984 season to pursue coaching. After retiring from playing, he spent time as an assistant coach at St. Thomas University in Miami before becoming the manager of the GCL White Sox in 1992 where he managed for three seasons.
During his time in professional baseball, he has spent time in the White Sox, Astros, Reds, Tigers, and Mariners organizations. He has served as a minor league manager for 13 different seasons, worked in various front office roles, and was a Bullpen Coach for the Seattle Mariners during the 2014 season. Last year, he returned to Minor League Baseball and guided the Toledo Mud Hens, the Triple-A Affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, to a 70-71 record as their skipper before joining the Kansas City Royals organization this off-season.
In conjunction with the announcement of the 2018 field staff, the Naturals Team Store will be offering fans 25% OFF Naturals Game Caps and Field Jackets online and at the Naturals Team Store at Arvest Ballpark by using the promo code: MGR2018 through Monday, January 15 at 5 p.m. to mark the next event on the off-season calendar, which is Monday's Hot Stove Luncheon.
The 2018 season of Naturals baseball at Arvest Ballpark will begin when Northwest Arkansas hosts the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Double-A Affiliate of the World Champion Houston Astros, on Thursday, April 5 at 6:25 p.m.
Follow the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Twitter @NWANaturals all throughout the year by using the hashtags #NaturalPastime and #CrowntoCrown for all of our up-to-date information on the 2018 schedule, tickets, group outings, promotions, roster, and Spring Training information as we prepare for the upcoming 2018 season.