Last week the Nationals invited each of these four teams. The Senators, Blue Rocks (a new subsidiary), and Fredericksburg Nationals accepted. Another new subsidiary, Red Wings, is expected to join Washington after reviewing the terms set out by Major League Baseball. And with the group about to hit the set, the Nationals have selected the managers who will lead the players through a side spring.
There was no minor league baseball in 2020. Instead, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, only a handful of interested parties were invited to the Nationals’ alternative location in Fredericksburg. That means that LeCroy, Keister, Shields and Lisson will soon be training players who have not been in a real competitive environment since August or early September 2019. Dismantling rust and continuing to develop unabated is at the top of their to-do list.
Pitching Coordinator Brad Holman, Pitch Coordinator Troy Gingrich and Outfield / Baserunning Coordinator Gary Thurman will each return to these positions, according to a person familiar with the revised minor league staff. Coaches Patrick Anderson and Billy Gardner Jr. were fired from the Nationals in late October. Anderson was scheduled to run the low Class A Hagerstown Suns in 2020 – if there had been a season – while Gardner was to be the Senators’ new manager.
LeCroy has been with the Nationals as a coach since 2008. In 2006 he was also an eye-catcher for Washington. The 45-year-old has served in many roles, from low-class A manager to major league bullpen coach. Next, you’ll travel to Rochester to spend the Red Wings inaugural season with the organization. Most recently, he was transferred from Head of Senators to Quality Control Coordinator in 2019. Now he’s right back in the dugout.
Keister was to run the Fredericksburg Nationals for their first season since moving from Woodbridge, Virginia. But that was supposed to be last summer, and Keister was at home in Delaware with his family instead. His familiarity with Wilmington made it easy to see him as manager of the Blue Rocks. But the Nationals decided to promote him to Class AA, which is where many of their best prospects have settled in recent years.
Shields, 56, will run the Blue Rocks for their first season since leaving the Kansas City Royals. Shields was a co-minor league field coordinator for Washington last season and made it into the Baltimore Orioles system.
The youngest of the four players, Lisson, 36, was promoted after leading the Nationals’ Gulf Coast League team since 2018. The former infielder grew up in Venezuela and was able to communicate with young players in both Spanish and English. He will lead the Fredericksburg Nationals in their first season in a new city and stadium. The organization got a good feel for the facility by using it to train their additional players throughout 2020.