Quinton McCracken rejoins Rays as Triple-A coach

Brady Williams takes over as manager in Durham among many changes on Rays staff.
Quinton McCracken, shown during the 1999 season, was MVP of the inaugural Devil Rays team. (Times file)
Quinton McCracken, shown during the 1999 season, was MVP of the inaugural Devil Rays team. (Times file)
Published January 18
Updated January 18

ST. PETERSBURG - Quinton McCracken, MVP of the 1998 inaugural Devil Rays team, has rejoined the organization as a coach at Triple-A Durham.

McCracken’s hiring is among a series of changes in the Rays minor-league staff announced today.

Among the more interesting moves:

* Brady Williams was promoted from Double-A Montgomery to Durham as part of a shuffle that has different managers for five of the seven affiliates;

* Former big-leaguer Morgan Ensberg was hired to replace Williams with the Biscuits;

* Sandy Sternberg, the 28-year-old son of principal owner Stuart, was hired as director, development strategy;

* Former Twins 1B coach Jeff Smith was hired to managed the Port Charlotte-based Stone Crabs;

* Jean Ramirez, a 25-year-old who played the last three years at the low end of the Rays minor-league system, was hired as bullpen catcher, replacing Mayo Acosta, who left due to personal reasons.

Williams was promoted, as expected, to manage the Bulls team following Jared Sandberg’s departure for a job on the Mariners major-league coaching staff. Pitching coach Rick Knapp and bench coach Dan DeMent are returning to the Bulls staff.

McCracken, 48, played with the Devil Rays from 1998-2000 during a 12-year big-league career. He spent last season as a minor-league coordinator for the Marlins after five in the front office of the Astros and two before that with the Diamondbacks. He also played baseball and football at Duke, which is in Durham.

"My family and I are extremely excited about this homecoming of sorts.'' McCracken said via text message. "The opportunity to rejoin the Rays organization and assist our player development staff in developing championship players and people, on and off the field, is a dream come true for me.''

Williams, 39, joined the Rays in 2006 and has managed for 10 seasons, the last five with the Biscuits after working his way from Hudson Valley to Bowling Green to Charlotte, and coached for three seasons before that. He also played five seasons in the minors after being drafted out of Pasco-Hernando community college. He is the son of former big-league manager Jimy Williams.

“This is a new challenge for me and my family, and we’re excited about facing this challenge," Williams said in the news release. “I learned a lot in my five years in Montgomery, but I’m looking forward to working with the next level of player in Durham."

Ensberg, whose eight-plus year playing career ended when he was released by the Rays at the end of spring training 2009, spent the last six years working in the Astros minor-league system, managing Class A Buies Creek in 2018 and short-season Class A Tri-City in 2017. He also served as a “mindset” coach, minor league special assignment coach and infield coach.

Among other changes in on-field staff, Craig Albernaz was named field coordinator, Tomas Francisco catching coordinator, Reinaldo Ruiz manager at Class-A Bowling Green, Rafael Valenzuela manager of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Rays; and Brady North a coach with the GCL Rays. Also, coach German Melendez moves from Charlotte to rookie-level Princeton, coach Ivan Ochoa from the DSL Rays to Charlotte, conditioning coach Sergio West from Princeton to Charlotte, conditioning coach Paul Jones from Charlotte to the GCL Rays.

The Rays also announced a series of baseball operations changes in addition to the hiring of Sandy Sternberg.

Among them: Former big-league infielder Cole Figueroa was promoted to assistant director, hitting development; former big-league pitcher Jeremy Sowers, who had been handling replays, to coordinator, major league operations; Ryan Bristow to assistant director, pro scouting; Hamilton Marx to assistant director, amateur scouting; Ryan Harmon to lead sports dietitian, baseball performance science; Samantha Bireley to coordinator, baseball administration; Ryan Pennell to coordinator, baseball performance science; Simon Rosenbaum to coordinator, baseball development.

Also: Josh Rodrigues was hired as replay administrator and Kate Martinez as assistant sports dietician.

Here is the updated minor-league coaching staff list, provided by the Rays: