Darryl Kennedy Named New Naturals Manager
SPRINGDALE, Ark. - The Kansas City Royals announced the 2019 field staffs for all of their minor league affiliates on Monday, January 7 and tabbed Darryl Kennedy as the new manager of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Kennedy, promoted from the Wilmington Blue Rocks (2018) will become just the fourth field manager in team history as he takes over for Mike Rojas (2018).
For the first time since the 2014 season, the Naturals field staff will see wholesale changes across the board. Doug Henry will be the pitching coach after serving in that role on Kennedy's staff in Wilmington in 2018. Prior to last season, Henry enjoyed a five-year stint as the bullpen coach (2012-2017) with the Royals at the Major League level. Joining Kennedy and Henry from Wilmington is hitting coach Abraham Nunez, whom held the same title with the Blue Rocks during the 2018 season. Nelson Liriano, a hitting coach for the Naturals back in 2013, will join Kennedy's staff as a bench coach after serving as the hitting coach at Burlington (Rookie) last year. Certified athletic trainer Justin Kemp becomes just the second trainer in team history as he joins the staff after holding the same title in Idaho Falls for the previous three seasons. Will Gilmore will round out the 2019 field staff after being named the team's new strength and conditioning coach while entering his fifth year with the Royals.
Kennedy, takes the reins of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals - becoming just the fourth field manager in franchise history - after serving as the manager for the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Advanced-A) in 2018. He has been a mainstay in the Royals organization serving in a managerial role within the farm system since the 2007 season. He previously managed with Surprise (2010-2013, 2015-2017) along with stints in Wilmington (2008, 2014, and 2018), Burlington (2007) and Idaho Falls (2009).
Kennedy, 49, is a native of Florida and has been involved with professional baseball since being selected by the Texas Rangers as a catcher in the 37th round of the 1991 amateur draft. During his playing career, he spent six seasons in the Rangers farm system - making it as high as Triple-A in 1996 - before ending his career with the San Francisco Giants organization.
After his playing career ended, Kennedy joined the coaching ranks and managed in the Rangers farm system (1998-2006) before joining the Kansas City Royals organization in 2007. During his time with Texas, he won four (4) league titles in his first six (6) seasons as a manager. Kennedy won two (2) Gulf Coast League titles for the GCL Rangers in 1998 and 2000, a Florida State League title for the Charlotte Rangers in 2002, and a Northwest League title for the Spokane Indians in 2003. The veteran manager joins the Naturals having previous Texas League experience after managing the Frisco RoughRiders in 2005 and 2006. Overall, Kennedy has a .515 winning-percentage as a field manager, amassing 988 victories during his managerial career.
The new skipper is scheduled to be in attendance at the Naturals Hot Stove Luncheon that will be held at The Apollo on Emma in Springdale on Monday, January 21 from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m. The event is held in conjunction with the Springdale Rotary Club.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals will return to Arvest Ballpark on Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 6:35 p.m. when they'll host the Springfield Cardinals (Double-A Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals) on Opening Night of the 2019 season.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark. For more information, including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.
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