MLB Draft League announces managers for 2021 season
April 12, 2021
A diverse and experienced group of former players, coaches and instructors will manage the six founding teams in the inaugural MLB Draft League, Major League Baseball and Prep Baseball Report announced Monday.
Freshly removed from their Major League careers, Coco Crisp (Mahoning Valley Scrappers) and Jedd Gyorko (West Virginia Black Bears) represent two of the five former Major League players selected to manage in the MLB Draft League.
Joining them will be Jeff Manto (Trenton Thunder), Derrick May (Frederick Keys) and Delwyn Young (State College Spikes), while former professional player and veteran Minor League coach Billy Horton (Williamsport Crosscutters) rounds out the group.
Managers for the MLB Draft League, which is powered by Prep Baseball Report, were selected by MLB Draft League President Kerrick Jackson.
“We are very excited to have this group of quality managers for the MLB Draft League,” Jackson said. “Each of these men has played and/or coached at a very high level of professional baseball and will be a huge asset to every young man that will be fortunate to play in our League.
“Their involvement is also an indication as to not only the quality and direction of our League, but also the quality of instruction that each player in the League will receive on their road to the Big Leagues.”
The MLB Draft League season will consist of 68 games, 34 home and away for each club, with Opening Day on May 24. The first 42 games will be played between Opening Day and July 8, when the league breaks July 9-14 for the MLB Draft, which is to be held July 11-13. Play will resume July 15, with the final regular-season game being played Aug. 13.
To view the full league schedule, visit www.mlb.com/mlb-draft-league/schedule
MLB Draft League participants will receive unprecedented visibility to MLB scouts through both in-person observation and state-of-the-art scouting technology, and educational programming designed to prepare them for careers as professional athletes. Prep Baseball Report will provide support for the league’s staffing, player and coach recruitment, on-field operations and administrative functions. PBR will also use their media and technology platforms to promote the league and its players throughout the season.
Coco Crisp, Mahoning Valley Scrappers
During his 15-year career in Major League Baseball, Crisp, whose actual first name is Covelli, recorded a .265 batting average with 877 runs scored and 495 extra-base hits, including 308 doubles, 57 triples and 130 home runs in 1,586 games between the Cleveland Indians (2002-05, 2016), Boston Red Sox (2006-08), Kansas City Royals (2009) and Oakland Athletics (2010-16). Crisp led the American League in stolen bases (49) in 2011, racking up 309 total steals in his career.
A veteran of 43 postseason games, Crisp was a member of the 2007 World Series Champion Red Sox and returned to the Fall Classic with the Indians in 2016. After announcing his retirement, the 41-year-old coached the Shadow Hills High School (Indio, Calif.) baseball team for two seasons before joining the Oakland Athletics’ radio broadcast team as a game analyst in 2019. He currently serves as a bench coach at Cerritos College (Norwalk, Calif.).
“I enjoy coaching at any level, but more than anything, I love just being around and talking baseball,” Crisp said. “So, for me, it’s an honor to be chosen as one of the MLB Draft League’s managers, especially in the League’s first year, with so many high-caliber players involved. I look forward to passing along my passion for the sport and sharing my experiences and knowledge with all the players.
“Many of these kids didn’t necessarily get the type of opportunity and looks they deserve last year because of the pandemic, so to have the MLB Draft League in place, giving players the opportunity to be seen -- it means a lot.”
Jedd Gyorko, West Virginia Black Bears
Gyorko, 32, played the 2020 Major League season with the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting nine home runs in 42 games. Originally a second-round pick by the San Diego Padres in the 2010 Draft, Gyorko has compiled a .245 average with 121 home runs, 111 doubles and 370 RBI in 846 career games with the Padres (2013-15), Cardinals (2016-19), Dodgers (2019) and Brewers (2020). He finished sixth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting with the Padres in 2013, when he paced all Major League rookies in home runs (23), extra-base hits (49) and total bases (216), and hit a career-high 30 home runs with the Cardinals in ‘16.
A Morgantown, W.V. native, Gyorko still holds several West Virginia University offensive records from his Mountaineers tenure (2008-10), ranking first in program history in extra-base hits (113), batting average (.404) and home runs (35-tied). He also recorded a .409 average or higher as a freshman and sophomore and hit 19 home runs as a junior in 2010, tying the program’s single-season record. In 2020, Gyorko was inducted into the Mountaineers’ Sports Hall of Fame.
“I am hoping to provide these young players with experiences and give them knowledge on what the next level will look like and hopefully prepare them for successful careers,” Gyorko said. “I am thankful for the opportunity and look forward to gaining managerial experience, especially in my hometown, where I’ll be able to spend more time with my family.”
Billy Horton, Williamsport Crosscutters
Horton, 47, held several Minor League coaching positions in the Giants’ system from 2012-19, working exclusively with the organization’s Arizona Rookie League affiliates. Horton led the AZL Giants Orange squad to a winning record in his first year as manager in 2018, following a six-year stay on the AZL Giants’ coaching staff (2012-17) that included an AZL championship in ‘13. In 2019, Horton served as the AZL Giants Orange’s fundamentals coach.
Prior to coaching, Horton played collegiately at Spring Hill College (Mobile, Ala.) and then played for six different Independent league teams in his four-year professional career, finishing with the Cook County of the Frontier League in 1999. He participated in Spring Training with the Chicago White Sox that year and with the Los Angeles Angels in 2000.
“I’m really excited to get to Williamsport and start working with the coaches, players and front office staff,” Horton said. “We have an opportunity to make a great impact on these players’ lives both on and off the field, and helping prepare them for the next step in their baseball careers is something I look forward to.
“These players are on the cusp of realizing their dream of playing professional baseball and I am honored to help guide them.”
Derrick May, Frederick Keys
May, 52, held various coaching positions in the St. Louis Cardinals organization after completing his playing career, serving on the staffs of both the Palm Beach Cardinals (2005-06) and Springfield Cardinals (2007-10) before taking over as the organization’s Minor League hitting coordinator (2011-15). In 2016, May was named assistant hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals. He spent 2017 as an instructor in the Colorado Rockies system.
Taken No. 9 overall in the 1986 Draft by the Chicago Cubs, May appeared in 797 Major League games across 10 seasons, batting .271 with 52 home runs and 310 RBI with the Cubs (1990-94), Brewers (1995), Astros (1995-96), Phillies (1997), Expos (1998) and Orioles (1999). The Newark, Del. product also played three seasons with Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League (2001-03).
“I am honored to be picked to manage in the MLB Draft League and excited that I have an opportunity to make an impact on the lives of aspiring professional players on the field and off,” May said.. “As I look back when I first started my professional career, I wished I knew the things I know now. So, to pass along the things I’ve learned that could potentially impact players' futures is very gratifying to me.
“I am excited that I will have the opportunity to work with the future of Major League Baseball, teaching them what it’s like to prepare like a professional/Major League player on the field, and how having a solid routine and plan in place can greatly impact their chances for success.
Lastly, I get to coach baseball, talk baseball and have fun.”
Jeff Manto, Trenton Thunder
Manto, 56, was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies’ Lakewood BlueClaws coaching staff in 2001 and led the team to a 69-70 record as manager the following year. In addition to his work as the Major League hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates (2006-07) and Chicago White Sox (2012-13), Manto has also served as the Minor League hitting coordinator for both the White Sox (2008-11) and Baltimore Orioles (2013-19).
Manto played in parts of nine seasons in the Major Leagues, spending time with the Cleveland Indians (1990-91, 1997-99), Philadelphia Phillies (1993), Baltimore Orioles (1995), Boston Red Sox (1996), Seattle Mariners (1996), New York Yankees (1999) and Colorado Rockies (2000) following his selection by the California Angels in the 14th round of the 1985 Draft. In 289 career games, the Temple University product recorded a .230 average while totaling 35 doubles, 31 home runs and 97 RBI.
“It truly is an honor to be selected as one of the managers of the inaugural MLB Draft League,” said Manto. “The opportunity given to me to make an impact on future Major League players is a responsibility I will not take lightly. The biggest impact I believe I can have with this group of men is to teach them how to act and react on and off the field as a Minor Leaguer on a given day.”
Delwyn Young, State College Spikes
Young, 38, has deep bloodlines in baseball. His father, Delwyn Young Sr., played Minor League baseball from 1981-1994, and his uncle, Selwyn Young, also played in parts of five Minor League seasons from 1981-1995. Young’s grandfather, Fate Young, served as a Major League scout for more than four decades.
As a player, Young was twice drafted by the Atlanta Braves (31st round, 2000; 29th, 2001) but opted not to sign on both occasions, ultimately beginning his career in 2002, after the Dodgers had selected him in the fourth round. He went on to play in parts of five Major League seasons with the Dodgers (2006-08) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2009-10), compiling a .258 average with 17 home runs and 37 doubles in 344 games. After playing for Triple-A Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia Phillies) in 2011, Young spent the next five seasons playing for the Camden Riversharks (2012-13) and Sugar Land Skeeters (2014-16) in the Independent Atlantic League. Since completing his playing career, the Los Angeles, Calif. native held coaching positions with the Kingsport Mets (2018) and Brooklyn Cyclones (2019). He also serves as an instructor for the Skeeters.
“For me, it was a simple decision to get involved in the MLB Draft League: I had my opportunity to play professional baseball; now, it’s time to pay it forward to younger generations,” said Young. “I love the nature of the league, helping amateur players discover their potential over the course of a season in a professional atmosphere. My family and I are excited about this summer, to say the least.”