The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

The Cardinal Nation Blog top stories of 2010 #19: New farm director and minor league improvement

The Cardinals promoted a new farm director and filled key open positions following a minor league season of improvement on the field.

Though he is not the headline of either my number 19 or 20 stories of the year for the St. Louis Cardinals, team vice president Jeff Luhnow is a common thread between the two.

After a winter in which the Cardinals farm system was ranked at or near the bottom of several prominent national prospect watchers’ lists due a perceived dearth of high-ceiling talent, the summer of 2010 brought solid team play up and down the organization.

Five of the Cardinals’ seven US-based affiliates made the post-season, with one league champion crowned, the Appalachian League’s Johnson City Cardinals.

Yet almost to a man, staffers remind anyone within earshot that their primary mission is player development, one of three leadership roles Luhnow previously held. The Cardinals felt that asking one man to manage the entire minor league system, lead scouting – a hands-on role, as well as run the draft, was asking too much.

On September 16, John Vuch, a member of the organization since the late 1970s, was promoted to farm director. He now oversees all aspects of player development under the direction of Luhnow. Vuch, formerly director of minor league operations, is well-prepared for the job. He is assisted by long-time MLB executive Gary LaRocque who serves as senior advisor to player development, reporting to Mozeliak.

Vuch’s first hires include a pair of internal promotions, filling key jobs that had been vacant in recent years.

Two-time George Kissell Award winner for player development excellence, former Cardinals bullpen coach and minor league manager Mark DeJohn was named minor league field coordinator. In addition to hands-on coaching, DeJohn’s new mission includes supervision of all the Cardinals minor league teams during the season as well as running minor league spring training and extended spring training plus the fall instructional league, if held.  The field coordinator job had been open the past three years since the departure of Jim Riggleman following the 2007 season.

Derrick May has taken the role of roving hitting coordinator after serving as the hitting coach of Double-A Springfield for the past four years, and the two before that with Palm Beach (A-Advanced). Dan Radison, now on the major league staff of Riggleman’s Washington Nationals, last held the Cardinals hitting coordinator assignment. The job was unfilled during the 2010 season.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

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