This is part one of a two part series on profiles of the Dodgers minor league managers. Today we will present the full season minor league affiliates while tomorrow we will profile the rookie league managers.
Oklahoma City Dodgers – Travis Barbary
Barbary is in his first year as a manager in the Dodgers minor league system. He was given a brief profile on LADT when the OKC Dodgers 2019 coaching staff was announced.
Tulsa Drillers – Scott Hennessey
Hennessey was born in Olathe, Kansas and attended high school in his home town at Olathe North high school. He was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 43rd round of the 1990 First-Year Player Draft.
His professional career started in 1990 with the Gulf Coast League Royals and ended the following season, at age-20, with the Baseball City Royals of the A+ Florida State League.
There is a bit of a gap in the information about his career following his brief professional appearance for two seasons. The gap is only in the years served at Cowley County Community College where Hennessey was an assistant coach during the school’s NJCAA World Series Championship in 1997-98.
Following that he worked as the head coach from 1998 through 2006 at two different high schools in Florida – Episcopal and Arlington Country Day High Schools in the Jacksonville area – where he won a state title in 2006 at Arlington Country Day.
Beginning in 2007 Hennessey scouted for the Dodgers and among his signees were Chris Anderson, Dee Gordon and Darnell Sweeney.
When Ryan Garko resigned as manager of the Tulsa Drillers in late July 2017, Hennessey took over as an interim manager with the team sporting a 50-50 win/loss record and seemingly little opportunity to make the play-offs. He sparked them to a 27-13 record over the final 40 regular season games, including a club record 15-game home winning streak, to claim the North Division second-half title.
The Drillers downed the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in the North Division Playoff Series and won the first two games of the Texas League Championship series on the road only to lose the next three at home and were forced to watch the Midland Rockhounds celebrate a championship at ONEOK Field.
It is unclear what the Dodgers had in mind for Hennessey following the 2017 but Drillers president/general manager Mike Melega knew what he wanted. He made a plea with the Dodgers to bring him back for the 2018 season and the rest is history.
The Drillers went on to capture their first league championship in 20 years in 2018 and Scott Hennessey got the usual baptism with a bucket of water dumped over his head.
“I can’t say enough good things about Scott and the job he has done this season,” Melega said. “He sets the tone in the clubhouse and has the undying respect of his players and couldn’t be better to work with in the front office, either. Having Scott at the helm makes winning the TL championship more special to me and the entire Drillers organization.”
Hennessey did receive an unexpected reward following the Drillers championship run. He was invited to Dodger Stadium and at age-48 on September 24 he put on a big league uniform for the first time for a major league game.
He returns as the Drillers manager for the 2019 season He is anxious on helping the Drillers repeat as Texas League champions in 2019 and was equally excited to go to spring training with the Dodgers.
“I’m real excited to get to big league spring training, just to see what the daily routine is for those guys just getting started, how they go about it,” said Hennessey, who got his taste of the majors as an extra coach late last season with the Dodgers. “I want to learn as much as I can like I did when I was up last year.”
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes – Mark Kertenian
Kertenian is a native of Pasadena, California and not surprisingly grew up a Dodger fan. He played his high school baseball at Arcadia High School and followed that with two years at Los Angeles City College, before transferring to Point Loma Nazarene. He played as a utility player with time both on the mound and in the field. He was never drafted.
Since completing his degrees, he has put many notches in his baseball coaching belt.
Kertenian has worked as an assistant coach at Cal State Northridge (2001-10 ) and was also an assistant at Nevada (2013-14) before assuming the same role at Florida International University (2015-16). Along with his work in coaching he gained a reputation as a recruiter.
“Mark has been the recruiting coordinator at two outstanding Universities, the University of Nevada and Cal State Northridge, and in his college career he has been very instrumental in bringing in tremendous recruiting classes, as well as, doing a great job of developing players,” said FIU head coach Turtle Thomas. “That obviously is the biggest thing you are looking for from your student-athletes, which is bringing in student-athletes and developing them into outstanding college baseball players. That’s what Mark has shown over the years in which he has been in college baseball.”
Kertenian, as with the college players he coached, has aspirations of a professional career and went looking for an opportunity for the 2017 season. He found one with the Dodgers that was to his liking when he observed how the Dodgers were going about streamlining their player development system.
“Having players drafted and signed, and having them return and talk to me about their experiences, it was becoming evident … that the Dodgers and how they’re developing their farm system and staffs was the best,” Kertenian said. “It’s a very holistic and amazing approach to development, so I pursued the Dodgers heavily.”
In his first year as a professional manager with the Ogden Raptors he helped the diverse squad of youngsters capture the Pioneer League Championship. During the 2018 season he secured a repeat championship, although this time with the AZL Dodgers.
In an interview with Hot Stove Baseball Talk Kertenian was asked about his success to date and if he feels any pressure moving to the Dodgers Class A+ Rancho Cucamonga Quakes for the 2019 season.
“The task at hand will be for the staff and players, doing what they need to do to fuel themselves and go forward. It’s everybody’s opportunity, especially from the player’s standpoint, to be where they have been working to be. No player or coach wants to end his career at High-A Rancho, the focus will be on moving towards that next level, not necessarily trying to win a championship.”
Great Lakes Loons – John Shoemaker
What can we say about the venerable John Shoemaker that hasn’t already been said?
Very briefly, he was selected by the Dodgers in the 35th Round of the 1977 First-Year Player Draft amateur draft and played four seasons in the Dodgers chain from 1977-1980. In 1981 be became a hitting coach with the Vero Beach Dodgers. Of note, he was also drafted by the Chicago Bulls of the NBA in their 1978 draft.
“Shoe”, as he is affectionately called, is entering his 43rd season in the Dodgers organization and 26th season as a minor league manager. The 62-year-old native of Mount Vernon, Ohio has managed in 11 different locations for the Dodgers and returned to the Loons in 2018 for the second time. He has been a minor league manager for a staggering 3363 games.
It is impossible to even suggest how many young players whose lives he has impacted during his long coaching career.
“The tree of baseball players that have grown from Shoe’s influence is endless,” says Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, who credits Shoemaker with helping save his career in 2007. “It’s amazing how many people’s lives he has touched.”
Yet he never made it to MLB while others with whom he has worked have become big league managers – Mike Scioscia, Ron Roenicke, Jerry Royster, Terry Collins and Kevin Kennedy. He certainly had a dream of coaching at the MLB level yet accepts what baseball has given him in return and is most likely more loyal to the Dodgers than even Tommy Lasorda might have been if he had inherited Shoe’s lot.
He says he has loved the Dodgers too much to ever consider moving to an organization that would offer more upward mobility. It is his ability to impart this love to impressionable young players that apparently makes him so valuable right where he is.
“I feel the job that I have at this moment is the most important job in the organization, that’s how I operate,” he says. “If I never went to the big leagues as a regular coach, I wouldn’t think I was cheated. This is baseball. This is teaching and developing young men. How can anyone think I was cheated?”
“I think he probably suffered from being such a good instructor and coordinator,” former Dodger GM Dan Evans says. “He would only impact 25 guys in the major leagues, while he can impact dozens of people in the minor leagues.”
John Shoemaker is the first Dodger since Davy Lopes to wear a captain’s “C”. In July 2015 he was honored by the Dodgers in the clubhouse at Lindquist Field in Ogden. In front of a wildly cheering team Shoe received an honor unmatched in all of minor league baseball. They put a “C” on his jersey, where it will remain for the rest of his career. He will forever be the Dodgers’ Captain of Player Development.