MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Kannapolis Cannon Ballers announce team’s first manager, coaching staff

MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Kannapolis Cannon Ballers announce team’s first manager, coaching staff

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KANNAPOLIS – Kannapolis’ newly named baseball team now has its first manager.

On Monday, the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers announced that baseball veteran Guillermo Quiroz will be the minor league team’s manager when it begins its inaugural season in Downtown Kannapolis in April.

The Cannon Ballers’ parent club, the Chicago White Sox, will also announced that the coaching staff will include returners José Bautista (pitching coach), Cole Armstrong (hitting coach) and Joe Geck (trainer), along with newcomers Patrick Leyland (coach), and Kevin Childs (performance coach).

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Quiroz, 38, comes to Kannapolis after making his way around the White Sox coaching tree that consumes the Tar Heel state, with his first stop coming in Winston-Salem (Class A Advanced) as a coach in 2018 and most recently as the hitting coach with the Charlotte Knights (Class AAA) in 2019.

A 10-year major league veteran, Quiroz spent time in Toronto (2004-05), Seattle (2006, 2009-10), Texas (2007), Baltimore (2008), Boston (2012) and San Francisco (2013-14). Quiroz was a member of the San Francisco Giants team that captured the 2014 World Series.

After beginning his baseball career by signing with the Blue Jays in 1998 at just 17 years old out of Maracaibo, Venezuela, Quiroz played a total of 17 years of professional baseball.

Bautista returns as the team’s pitching coach after having the same role in Kannapolis last season. Entering his 13th season in the White Sox system, Bautista also guided the Kannapolis pitching staff from 2011-15. Before returning to Kannapolis in 2018, Bautista served as the pitching coach with the Barons in 2017 and the Dash in 2016. Prior to his time with the White Sox, the Bani, Dominican Republic, native spent time in the Royals organization. Signed by the Mets in 1981, he had a nine-year career in the majors, where he went 32-42 with a 4.62 ERA, including three saves in 312 appearances.

Armstrong, born in Surrey, British Columbia, returns for the second season in a row as the Kannapolis hitting coach. He , while previously serving as Kannapolis’ manager in 2016. From 2017-18, Armstrong was the hitting coach for the Barons. Before his two-year stint in Birmingham, Armstrong managed Kannapolis and the Great Falls Voyagers (2015). After being drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 12th round of the 2003 MLB Draft, Armstrong spent time in the Braves, White Sox and Angels organizations before hanging up the cleats in 2013.

Leyland enters his first season as a coach in the White Sox organization. Last season, Leyland was in the South Atlantic League as the development coach for the Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore Orioles), a team that took home the MiLB Team of the Year award. The son of three-time Manager of the Year, Jim Leyland, Leyland served as a coach with the Baysox in 2018. After being drafted by the Tigers in the eighth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, the 28-year-old played six seasons in the minors with Detroit (2010-14) and Seattle (2015).

Geck will serve as the head trainer in Kannapolis for the fifth straight season in 2020, marking his 28th season in the White Sox organization. While attending the University of South Florida, Geck received an internship with the White Sox in Sarasota, Florida, which paved the way for almost a 30-year relationship between him and the White Sox.

Childs, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, will enter his first year with the White Sox organization. Previously the performance coach from 2016-19 in the Seattle Mariners organization, Childs received his master’s degree from Appalachian State University in 2015 for Exercise Science, with a concentration in Strength and Conditioning. Childs also played college baseball at Wingate University (2008-09) and Lander University (2010-12).

The Cannon Ballers open the gates to the Kannapolis Sports and Entertainment Venue for the inaugural 2020 season on Thursday, April 16, against the West Virginia Power. Season tickets and group hospitality areas are on sale now.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.kcballers.com or call 704-932-3267.

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