DAVENPORT, Iowa — The defending-champion Quad Cities River Bandits will have a bit of a new look following the team announcing their coaching staff for the 2022 season.
On Jan. 14, the Bandits' MLB affiliate (Kansas City Royals) made a number of changes in their minor-league system.
Among those was the decision not to bring back 2021 MiLB Manager of the Year Chris Widger. Instead, Widger earned a bump up in the Royals organization in a promotion to manage the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
Replacing Widger will be another manager previously in the Royals' system and former big leaguer, Brooks Conrad.
The 42-year-old enters his sixth season as a coach, and his fifth as a manager coming off a 2021 season with the Low-A Columbia Fireflies. He previously served as a first base coach for Burlington (NC) in 2017 before being named manager of that team in 2018.
Conrad got another managerial promotion in 2019, leading the Lexington Legends to to a South Atlantic League Title. He was awarded the Dick Howser Award for "outstanding contributions to the organization."
Before becoming a coach, Conrad spent parts of six seasons as a utility infielder at the major-league level from 2008-2012, and 2014 with the Braves, Brewers, Rays, and Padres. He played one season (2013) in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers.
Joining Conrad in the Bandits' dugout are a few familiar faces as pitching coach Steve Luebber and hitting coach Andy LaRoche return for their second seasons.
Also named to the staff was assistant hitting coach Davnid Noworyta, assistant coach Kevin Kuntz, and athletic trainer Brad Groleau. Each enters their first season in the Quad Cities.
The team said their strength and conditioning coach will be announced at a later date.
The River Bandits are coming off a dominant 2021 season in their first year as a Kansas City affiliate following the minor-league baseball overhaul. The Bandits' capped off the best record (77-41) of all High-A Central teams and were crowned league champions for the 12th time in franchise history.
There's no timetable for when MLB activities will resume due to the lockout, but all minor-league training camps and games are slated to begin on schedule.
The 2022 season opener for the River Bandits is set for April 8 on the road against the South Bend Cubs.