Jacksonville’s minor league baseball team will begin the 2017 season not only with a new name, but with a new coaching staff.
The Jumbo Shrimp, formerly the Suns, announced Randy Ready as their new manager on Friday. Ready replaces David Berg, who was not retained after two seasons.
Ready moves up to the Double-A level after managing the Florida Marlins’ High-A Jupiter Hammerheads last season. The Hammerheads finished 68-69 in the Florida State League.
“With such a long history and tradition in Jacksonville, we now begin a new era, becoming the Jumbo Shrimp,” Ready said in a statement. “I believe the Marlins organization shouldn’t disappoint as a whole with our competitiveness and the players we’re going to be putting on the field this year.”
Ready had a 13-year Major League Baseball playing career, mostly as a utility infielder. A sixth-round pick in 1980 by the Milwaukee Brewers, he appeared in 777 games with five different teams and batted .259. His best season was in 1987 with the San Diego Padres, when he hit .309 with 12 home runs and 54 RBI.
He retired after playing 1996 in Japan and has worked as a minor league coach or manager since 2002. In 2013, he managed the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A Gwinnett affiliate for one season and finished 61-83.
Ready’s pitching coach will be Jacksonville native Storm Davis, who is in his second season with the Marlins organization and held the same position for Triple-A New Orleans last year. Davis pitched at University Christian and had two stints as head coach at The Bolles School from 1997-2001 and 2008-09.
Davis pitched in the majors from 1982-94 and was on World Series teams with the Baltimore Orioles (1983) and Oakland A’s (1989). He was 113 -96 with a 4.02 ERA in 239 career starts.
Jesus Merchan makes his pro coaching debut as the Suns’ hitting coach. Merchan played 13 years in the majors with nine teams and retired after the 2013 season with San Diego.
The new coaching staff takes over a Jump Shrimp team that struggled the past two seasons, finishing 57-81 in 2015 and 63-76 last year.
The Jumbo Shrimp open the 2017 season on April 6 at Mississippi. The team’s home opener is April 12 against Chattanooga.