As expected, the Minnesota Twins named Toby Gardenhire as the manager of their new Triple-A affiliate, the Saint Paul Saints. Gardenhire, who of course, is the son of former long-time Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, has been a fixture in the Twins organization as a player, coach, and manager. This will be his first Triple-A managing post.
The Twins first brought Gardenhire into the organization when they drafted him in 2005, something Toby has often joked about, as he has always believed that he isn’t sure whether the Twins would have drafted him if he wasn’t the manager’s son. Nevertheless, he made a steady climb up the minor league ladder as a utility player until he topped out at Triple-A in 2011.
Gardenhire went on to become the head coach at Wisconsin-Stout University for five years where he learned the ins-and-outs of managing a ball club. The Twins hired him in 2017 as a minor league coach and, just as he had in his playing days, he rose up the Twins coaching ranks.
He was actually tapped to become the manager of the former Twins Triple-A affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings, in 2020, but when the 2020 season schedule was cancelled due to the coronavirus, Gardenhire remained at the club’s facility in Fort Myers, Florida, working with some of the major leaguers who remained in camp.
Toby Gardenhire is primed and ready to take over as the Triple-A manager in 2021.
He eventually migrated to Minnesota, where he was able to forge valuable relationships with Manager Rocco Baldelli and the rest of the Major League coaching staff. This will be a huge help when he works with the players at the Triple-A level.
One big advantage that Toby brings with him is a strong knowledge of the top five prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization. He has managed Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jordan Balazovic, and Jhoan Duran at some point in their minor league careers which is important because It’s more likely than not that all of these players will be on the 2021 Saints roster.
On his experience last year, Gardenhire said: “It got me a chance to hang out with [Twins manager] Rocco [Baldelli] and the coaching staff up there. That’s really important, for the Triple-A manager to have a good relationship with those guys. [Baldelli] knows he can call me anytime, and I’ll be able to tell him whatever he needs to know about any of his guys.”
Joining Gardenhire on the 2021 Saints coaching staff are: hitting coach Matt Borgschulte, pitching coaches Mike McCarthy and Cibney Bello, infield coach Tyler Smarslok, certified athletic trainer Jason Kirkman, and strength coach Jacob Dean. The Saints are set to begin play in April.
One of Toby Gardenhire’s mentors when he was growing up was the Minnesota Twins’ two-time World Series Championship manager, Tom Kelly. If Gardenhire’s Saints can match the success of Kelly’s Twins, the Twins organization would be ecstatic.
In addition to that, thought it doesn’t seem likely now, these results would also increase the likelihood that another Gardenhire would be managing the Minnesota Twins at some point in the future.