When the Phillies were partaking in their managerial interviews, one of the names that was rumored was AAA manager Dusty Wathan. When Wathan was passed up for the job in favor of Gabe Kapler, it was clear that the organization didn’t want to lose Wathan to another club. To prevent such move, the Phillies announced earlier this year that Wathan would be the Phillies third base coach in 2018, replacing Juan Samuel. The move was an ideal one, as Wathan managed many of the young players currently on the roster or close to making their MLB debuts, ascending through the Phillies’ ranks with them.
But the coaching call-up left a void in Lehigh Valley, as the Iron Pigs were left leaderless. The void has been filled today, as the club has chosen Gary Jones to be the next skipper of the organization’s top affiliate, which was first reported by MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Jones had spent the last four seasons with the Chicago Cubs as their third base coach. Prior to his appointment to the Cubs; Major League coaching staff, Jones was a manager in the minor leagues for years, beginning his coaching endeavor in 1990, managing every year except two until 2006. He was a four-time manager of the year throughout the minor leagues, winning in 1991 with the Madison Muskies, in 1994 with the Huntsville Stars and back-to-back years in 1996 ans 1997 with the Edmonton Trappers. In each of his final three managerial award winning seasons, Jones led his club to league championships, winning the AA Southern league in 1994 and the AAA Pacific League in 1996 and 1997.
Before his coaching career, Jones played seven seasons of minor league ball for the Cubs and A’s farm systems after signing as a free agent out of the University of Arkansas in 1982. He finished with a minor league career batting average of .283 in just shy of 900 games played. In 1983, Jones stole 58 bases for Single A Quad Cities Cubs.
Joining Jones in AAA Lehigh Valley will be former Phillies and 13-year Major League Baseball veteran Wes Helms. Helms played for four teams over his career, including a year with the Phillies in 2007. He wrapped his short stint in Philadelphia with stops in Atlanta, Milwaukee and Florida. His best statistical season happened to come in 2006, the year before he signed as a free agent with Philadelphia. While it’s been announced that Helms will be a coach, it is still unclear as to what capacity he’ll serve in.
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