Tampa Yankees make changes to staff

Newcomer Dave Bialas will serve as skipper for Class-A Yankees in 2015

The Class-A Tampa Yankees have announced their on-field coaching staff for 2015, and new-to-the-organization skipper Dave Bialas will head a staff that includes pitching coach Tommy Phelps, hitting coach Tom Slater, and defensive coach JD Closser.

Bialas, 60, brings with him 14 years of experience and a career record of 1,028-1,033 at the head of a minor-league bench. He has spent the last the last two years as the Atlanta Braves' minor league field coordinator, and his resume also includes 11 years (1982-92) as a manager at four levels within the Cardinals organization, two years (1993-94) as the Padres' bullpen coach, and 18 seasons in the Cubs organization as a bullpen coach (1995-99), Double-A manager (2000-01), field coordinator (2002-11), and finally manager of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs (2012).

Phelps, a Tampa native, joins the T-Yanks after spending the last six seasons working under Tony Franklin as the pitching coach for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, where he ended his tenure by leading the staff to a 3.84 team ERA and the second-most strikeouts in the Eastern League last season.

Slater takes over as hitting coach after spending 2013 and 2014 as the Yankees' roving minor-league hitting instructor. Prior to that, he was the Thunder's hitting coach in 2012 and spent three seasons managing in the system, skippering the rookie-level Gulf Coast Yankees in 2009 and 2010 before leading the Short-Season Class-A Staten Island Yankees to the New York-Penn League title in 2011.

Closser, the lone returnee to the T-Yanks' on-field staff, made his professional coaching debut last year in Tampa, helping Al Pedrique's squad to a 71-68 overall record. A veteran of 160 major-league games over a 14-year playing career (1998-2011) as a catcher, Closser also spent 2012 and 2013 as a coach in the USA Baseball National Team Development Program prior to joining the Yankees organization.

In addition to the on-field staff, the T-Yanks also announced that team trainer Mike Becker and strength and conditioning coach Joe Siara will both return for their second seasons with the club.