ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Ibach worked his way from a pro scout with the Rays into the front office and up to vice president of player personnel, with a significant role in player acquisition.
Wednesday, he was named an assistant general manager and shifted to vice president of baseball operations. Ibach, 45, will team with three other assistant GMs — Will Cousins, Chanda Lawdermilk and Carlos Rodriguez — to share the duties of previous general manager Peter Bendix.
Bendix left in November to lead Miami’s baseball operations. The Rays, at least for now, won’t replace him, with the four assistants handling the work under baseball operations president Erik Neander. Ibach, who joined the Rays in 2012, will focus on player development, pro personnel and pro scouting while adding strategy and department oversight duties.
“Kevin is very deserving of this recognition,’' Neander said. “He’s widely respected for his experiences, expertise and work ethic. We’re excited for the leadership that he — along with Carlos, Chanda and Will — will provide as they all grow into greater responsibilities.’'
Among 20-plus other promotions, title changes and new hires:
• Dan Moeller, after 23 years as head groundskeeper, shifts to director of special projects and field operations. His duties include the design and building of the planned new stadium, as well as renovations of the team academy in the Dominican Republic and operations at Charlotte Sport Park. Mike Deubel, the assistant for 19 years, takes over as head groundskeeper.
• Bryan King assumes the lead role as major league strength and conditioning coach, having worked the last two seasons with rehabbing players and previously at Triple-A Durham. Trung Cao will shift to working with the rehab players.
• Bobby Kinne, who did advance scouting work as coordinator of major-league operations, was named pitching strategist, working directly with the coaches, including in the dugout during games.
• Jonathan Erlichman, who spent five seasons in uniform as process and analytics coach, moves back to the front office as a vice president in the same areas. His duties include “research related to player wellness.”
• Kris Goodman was promoted from the minor league staff to take over mental performance responsibilities as the major league process and development coach. Justin Su’a, who had been the head of mental performance, is moving to a lesser role, focusing on staff initiatives.
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Other promotions include Elvis Martinez to director of communications and player relations, Joe Myers to senior director of baseball performance science, Ryan Bristow to director of pro personnel and pro scouting, and Katie Mooradian to assistant in advance scouting and major league operations.
New business side hires include Brennan DiChiara as senior director of strategy and analytics, and directors Luis Cuccati (administration), Miguel Velez (fan experience), Yanna Pantelis (marketing).
Two longtime top executives had slight title changes, with Jenn Tran now chief people and community officer and Bill Weiner Jr. chief administrative officer. Also, Ken Mallory is now director of ticket operations, Jeane Drury and Ryan Sullivan directors of ticket sales.
23 young players signed
The Rays were pleased with the 23 teenaged players added at Monday’s opening of the international signing period, topped by Dominican outfielder Leonardo Pineda. The No. 18 overall prospect per MLB.com got a reported $1.75 million.
Others of note included Venezuelan shortstops Angel Brachi ($800,000), Aaron Pinero ($450,000) and Andreimi Antunez ($300,000); and catcher Deinys Gonzalez ($440,000).
“We felt really comfortable with the depth of the class but also the combination of tools, skills and instincts,” international scouting director Steve Miller said Wednesday from Venezuela. “It was just a really diverse class for the entire industry …
“We have some guys that would be considered more tools-type players, we have some players that we would consider more of a skill-type player, and we have some guys that we would consider a combination of both. We have some offensive-oriented players, some defensive-oriented players.
“We have some guys that we feel have a high ceiling, we have some guys that we feel have a high floor. So not only filling out rosters at the Dominican Summer League level, but we think a lot of these guys have a chance to blossom into really nice prospects and potential big-leaguers.”
Other signings from the Rays’ $6.55 million investment (with another deal pending), by country, with reported bonuses when available:
Dominican Republic: CF Carlos Matias ($425,000), SS Domingo Batista ($425,000), SS Israfell Bautista ($400,000), RHP Sebastian Perez ($310,000), OF Ismael Del Rosario ($300,000), OF Emilio Galan, SS Jean Michael Santana, RHPs Ricardo Guzman, Damian Alcala, Misael De La Cruz.
Venezuela: C Erick Lugo, RHP Jhonny Aranguren, C Andres Torres, SS Raul Vargas, RHPs Samiel Pateti, Frank Chessman, Antwan Leal.
Panama: C Jahir Marin.
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