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Jeff Smith Returns to Lead Stone Crabs Coaching Staff in 2020

January 27, 2020 - Florida State League (FSL) - Charlotte Stone Crabs News Release

PORT CHARLOTTE, FLORIDA - Stone Crabs manager Jeff Smith will return in 2020 for his second season managing the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Tampa Bay Rays announced.

After spending 20 seasons in the Minnesota Twins system, Smith will enter his second year with the Tampa Bay Rays organization. He led the Stone Crabs to the best overall record in the Florida State League last season, with the club finishing 82-53. The team clinched the Second-Half Southern Division Championship before playoffs were canceled due to the threat of Hurricane Dorian. The campaign was the best in Stone Crabs history, setting franchise records for overall wins (82), winning percentage (.607) and second-half wins (47).

Before arriving in Port Charlotte last year, Smith spent a two-year stint in the Major Leagues as the first base coach for Minnesota. He was also responsible for baserunning and catching instruction. Prior to his two years in the Majors, Smith spent 11 years as a minor league manager, recording an impressive 457-366 (.555) mark in the Florida State League.

The Akron, Ohio native made his coaching debut in 2005 as the hitting coach for the Gulf Coast League Twins and was quickly promoted to be the manager for the Low-A Beloit Snappers. Over two seasons, he led the Snappers to a 151-125 (.547) record and a pair of postseason berths. Smith was promoted to High-A Fort Myers in 2008 and had remarkable success in the Florida State League. He led the Miracle to back-to-back postseasons, earning a combined record of 157-117 (.573). After winning the South Division title in both halves of 2009, Smith's Miracle fell to the Charlotte Stone Crabs in the 2009 South Division Series.

Smith spent the next five seasons (2010-14) as the skipper for the New Britain Rock Cats, the Twins' Double-A affiliate. He returned to Fort Myers for two seasons (2015-16) before earning the opportunity at the Major League level.

A former 20th Round pick by Minnesota in 1995, Smith played nine years in the minors, spending parts of six seasons at the Triple-A level. A graduate of Naples High School, Smith spent the next three seasons in DeLand, batting .306 for Stetson University while drawing more walks (71) than strikeouts (68).

Smith will lead a staff that includes a Stone Crabs veteran with pitching coach Steve 'Doc' Watson. In addition, Brady North and Jeremy Owens will each serve their first season with the Stone Crabs as members of the 2020 coaching staff.

Watson returns to the Stone Crabs for his seventh consecutive season as pitching coach and ninth overall. He led the best pitching staff in Charlotte history in 2015, a group that set franchise records in ERA (2.87), shutouts (17) and fewest hits allowed (1,033).

The Bradenton, Florida native has tutored 24 former Stone Crabs who have reached the Major Leagues, including Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell. Prior to his time with Tampa Bay, 'Doc' spent 12 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, five with the Baltimore Orioles and three with the Miami Marlins, serving as pitching coordinator, rehab coordinator and pitching coach.

Brady North joins the Stone Crabs after spending last season with the GCL Rays. Before joining the Rays organization, North was the Director of Hitting and Mental Performance at Top Level Athletes in Orlando. He also served as an Assistant Coach at Cumberland University, where he played collegiately. North graduated from Cumberland with a master's degree in Sport and Exercise Science.

Jeremy Owens will come to Port Charlotte after spending the last two seasons coaching the Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods. The former outfielder was drafted in the eighth round of the 1998 draft by the San Diego Padres. Owens spent five seasons with the Padres organization, two with the Boston Red Sox and finished his affiliated career with the Tampa Bay Rays organization playing for the Montgomery Biscuits in 2006 and the Durham Bulls in 2007. Owens finished his professional playing career with the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs from 2008-2014. He began his coaching career in 2016 when he managed the Blue Crabs followed by one season as the Bench and Hitting Coach for the Independent New Jersey Jackals in 2017.

James Ramsdell returns to Port Charlotte for his third year as the Stone Crabs' Athletic Trainer and eighth in the Rays' organization. James McCallie will serve as the team's Conditioning Coach.

The Stone Crabs start the 2020 season on the road in Bradenton on Thursday, April 9th. The Home Opener at Charlotte Sports Park is Saturday, April 11th at 6:00 p.m. For the 2020 Schedule or more information, please visit Fans can also call 941-206-4487 or stop by the Front Office Monday-Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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