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Meet the homegrown 2018 Yankees: The coaches

Tony Franklin's staff has someone from every level in 2013
12/25/2013 10:24 AM ET
By YESNetwork.com Staff

Through 2013, Tony Franklin has spent 44 years in pro baseball without ever seeing the Majors.(AP)
The position players are set for our fantasy 2018 homegrown Yankees. Even without knowing the 12 men who make up the pitching staff, it's pretty obvious that when it comes to the coaching staff, the best man for the head job is someone who has had a big hand in developing some, many, or all of the guys on the roster.

With that in mind, we introduce the manager of our 2018 New York Yankees: Tony Franklin.

In 2013, Franklin led the Trenton Thunder to the Eastern League Championship, the team's third in seven seasons under his tutelage. His status for 2014 and beyond remains in doubt, but one thing anyone who has covered the Thunder for even one day has found out is that it remains Franklin's goal in life to someday make it to the Majors.

As a player, Franklin played for five organizations from 1970-79, but only reached as high as Triple-A, playing 121 games at that level, and never got even a cup of coffee in The Show. His coaching career began in 1979 while with the Rochester Red Wings, and in 35 years as a staffer, a short stint as interim skipper of the Padres' Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas in 2000 is as close as he has gotten to a Major League bench.

Until our fantasy 2018 scenario, that is, which goes like this:

In 2017, Franklin completed his 22nd year as a Minor League manager and 11th at the helm of the Double-A Trenton Thunder, leading the Yankees affiliate to their fourth Eastern League title overall and second in five years. Franklin watched as 2017 Yankees manager Joe Girardi finished out his four-year contract and decided, for the time being, to retire to spend more time with family -- and, at 67 years old, admits he might have done the same if the organization he dedicated a decade to didn't finally give him the one thing he's always wanted.

Fact is, though, they did.

See, when Girardi retired, the Yankees knew they needed someone to come in as skipper who knew the team and could ease the growing pains that their relatively young squad would still be going through in 2018 and even beyond. Franklin has been one of the best mentors in the game for years now, and knowing that he wouldn't be around forever, the organization decided to give him a crack at the top while finding someone else to replace him at the most important level of the Minors.

And so, after nearly 50 years of trying, Tony Franklin finally made it to the Majors.

But who would he bring with him as coaches? In our world, Girardi's coaching staff leaves when he does after 2017, so Franklin needs an entire staff -- and with current Tampa Yankees manager Luis Sojo tabbed to succeed him in Trenton in our world, that's one slam dunk that's off the board.

So, his search starts with a bench coach, and for that, Franklin decided to bring with him his No. 1 lieutenant, current Thunder coach Luis Dorante. The second-winningest manager in Florida State League history (behind only Sojo), Dorante will only be 49 on Opening Day 2018, but he has the coaching success and Yankees pedigree to be the most effective right-hand man for the rookie skipper.

For his pitching and hitting coaches, Franklin picked a pair who have been in the Yankees organization for a while in various capacities, bringing in former MLB hurler Scott Aldred (who has been the pitching coach at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre since 2009) and former two-time Yankee Marcus Thames (who debuted as a hitting coach in Tampa in 2013) to be the position-specific generals of his staff, with Thames also serving as outfield mentor.

As for the other half of the staff, we see Franklin choosing Drew Henson, who began his coaching career as a hitting coach for the GCL Yankees in 2013, to come in and be his third base coach and infield instructor. Former organizational prospect P.J. Pilittere, who spent 2004-11 as a catcher in the Yankees system and last year as a coach at Class A Charleston, is brought in as first base coach and catching guru. Add in former hurler and current Staten Island Yankees manager Justin Pope as bullpen coach and you have a staff that represents every level of 2013 Yankees baseball.

Perfect symbolism for a fantasy 2018 Yankees team that does the same.

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