The Charleston RiverDogs are just over two months away from beginning their quest for a third consecutive league championship. A new-look coaching staff will be leading that mission in 2023. Sean Smedley, the team’s bench coach during the 2021 campaign, will take over as manager. The rest of the coaching staff, announced by the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday morning, features returners Perry Roth as hitting coach and Mia Salvemini as strength and conditioning coach. Newcomers to Charleston include pitching coach Levi Romero, bench coach Ronnie Richardson and athletic trainer Halee Williams.
This will be the 32-year-old Smedley’s first managerial job after spending each of the past six seasons as part of the coaching staff at various levels in the Rays farm system. His coaching career began when he was the video coordinator for the rookie-level Princeton Rays in 2016. In 2017, he returned to Princeton, this time as the bench coach. For the next two seasons, Smedley was part of Blake Butera’s staff as the bench coach for the Hudson Valley Renegades. Those teams combined to go 88-62.
The native of Colorado was announced as the manager in Princeton for the 2020 season, but due to COVID-19 that campaign was canceled, and each team’s farm system was condensed. When play resumed in 2021, Smedley again was part of Butera’s staff as the bench coach, this time in Charleston. That team went 82-38, led the league in batting average and home runs and captured the first championship in franchise history. Most recently, Smedley was the bench coach for Double-A Montgomery under manager Morgan Ensberg.
“I am truly honored to be named the manager of the RiverDogs and excited to return to the Holy City,” said Smedley. “I can’t wait to get to work at The Joe in April!”
During his playing days as a catcher, Smedley was a prep standout at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona. He played one year of junior college ball at Yavapai College before transferring to Division II Texas A&M International. He went undrafted at the end of his college career but was signed as a free agent by the Rays shortly after the draft’s conclusion. In three professional seasons, he appeared in 24 games total between the Gulf Coast League Rays and Single-A Bowling Green.
This season will be Roth’s second with both the Rays and RiverDogs after coaching at the college level since 1996. Under his tutelage in 2022, the RiverDogs led the Carolina League in batting average, home runs, hits, triples and slugging percentage. Before joining the Rays, he spent the previous 15 years with UAB’s baseball program, also serving as recruiting coordinator, hitting coach and assistant head coach.
Romero takes over as the pitching coach at a full-season affiliate for the first time after serving in the same role for the Florida Complex League affiliate in 2021. That squad held opponents to a league-low .204 batting average and finished with a 3.32 earned run average and 514 strikeouts in 460.2 innings. Romero was the pitching coach for one of the Rays two entries in the Dominican Summer League in 2021. His professional career began in 2003 when he was signed out of Venezuela by the Houston Astros. In all, he pitched for five years in Minor League Baseball with the Astros and Texas Rangers before embarking on a seven-year international career that included stops in Venezuela and Japan and ended in 2015.
Richardson is embarking on his third season with the Rays, and first with a full-season affiliate, following two years in the Florida Complex League. He helped guide the FCL Rays to a 39-16 record in the regular season and an appearance in the league’s championship series. Richardson previously coached in the Miami Marlins organization, with Hillsborough Community College and in the Northwoods League with the Madison Mallards and Wisconsin Woodchucks. He was selected out of Central Florida University in the 16th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. He played three seasons in their farm system, posting a .262 career batting average.
Salvemini returns as strength and conditioning coach for a third consecutive season. She is also a CrossFit Level One Trainer and spent time working with athletes at Cressey Sports Performance. Salvemini was originally hired by the Rays in 2020 after graduating from the University of Tampa in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Performance with a concentration in Exercise Recreation and Leadership.
Williams begins her fourth year with the Rays and first with a full-season affiliate. She served in the same role with the Florida Complex League Rays in 2022. Williams graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training from Indiana Wesleyan University. While in school, she interned with the Arizona Diamondbacks and, after graduating, spent a season with the Oakland Athletics. She began working with the Rays in 2019 while completing her Global Master’s Degree in Sports Management and Legal Skills through Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economía and FC Barcelona in 2020. This winter, Williams worked for the Bravos de Margarita of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League.
The RiverDogs have set their sights on a third consecutive championship in 2023. The full schedule is available here.
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