The Kansas City Royals have a new Low-A affiliate and with that change came a change to the Lexington Legends: an overhaul of the brand. What did not change with the team change was the manager. Brian Buchanan, who managed the Low-A Kane County Cougars in 2012 will be managing the Legends in 2013.
Buchanan will be in his second season at the Low-A level, after spending two seasons with rookie level Idaho Falls. Before managing, he was a first round draft pick back in 1994 by the NY Yankees out of the University of Virginia. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1998 and made his big league debut with them in May of 2000. The outfielder’s last big league appearance came in August of 2004 with the San Diego Padres. He retired as a player in 2009 (after spending two seasons in the Royals minor league system).
In 2012, he guided the Cougars to a 68-72 record and they just missed the Midwest League playoffs.
Buchanan will have a whole new coaching staff in 2013 in Lexington.
Jerry Nyman will be the new pitching coach after serving in that same capacity with Idaho Falls last season. Prior to coaching, he pitched in the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox and the Padres from 1968-1970.
The Chukars pitching staff had a 5.36 ERA over 76 games and led the league in saves with 25. They gave up more hits than innings pitched (773 hits to 672 innings), though so did every other team in the Pioneer League. The pitchers walked 280 and struck out 715, but had the second-highest WHIP in the league (1.57).
Justin Gemoll (who seems to have coached at every lower level in the Royals system) will be the new hitting coach after serving in that same capacity with rookie level Burlington in 2012. Prior to coaching, Gemoll was a 14th round draft pick by the Royals back in 2000 out of USC. The third baseman reached Triple-A in 2005 before retiring after 2006. He actually was not that bad of a minor league hitter (I had a chance to see him in Wilmington back in 2002 when he hit .310), but he had little power (29 homeruns in 2118 at-bats over a seven year career).
Burlington reached the Appalachian League finals in 2012 and had quite a few offensive prospects (including Bubba Starling). As a team, they hit .252 with 41 homeruns in 2181 at-bats. They struck out 897 times, which was second-most in the league. Their on-base percentage (.339) and slugging percentage (.411) were both the second highest in the league.
Lexington is expected to be stocked with prospects in 2013, so it will be interesting to see how this coaching staff melds the team together. Hopefully they will have a winning season and be fun to watch on the field.