Naturals Wilson promoted to Royals staff

Posted: November 8, 2017 at 1 a.m.

Northwest Arkansas Naturals manager Vance Wilson (left) was announced as the new bullpen coach for the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday. Wilson, a Springdale resident, managed the Naturals for four seasons and led them to three playoff appearances and two Texas League Championship Series berths.

SPRINGDALE -- It was a role reversal for Northwest Arkansas Naturals manager Vance Wilson on Tuesday.

The 44-year-old has spent the past seven seasons giving players the good news about being promoted. On Tuesday it was his turn as the Kansas City Royals announced Wilson as their new bullpen coach.

"I am very honored and humbled, and I'm looking forward to the challenge," said Wilson, who has served as the Naturals manager for the past four seasons. "The biggest things I've learned is it's about building a winning culture and the relationships. The X's and O's will kind of take care of themselves."

Wilson guided the Naturals to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, including back-to-back runs to the Texas League Championship Series in 2015 and '16.

The former Major League catcher said getting the call to the big leagues is different from going up now as a coach.

"It's bittersweet," Wilson said. "I loved being in charge and loved developing players with the great staffs that I had. Then to move on from that, I'm really lucky. I always felt like if I did a good job, this game would take me where I need to be."

The full-time Springdale resident acknowledged he had a unique situation being able to spend time with his family during the season. The promotion comes at a great time, too, since his daughter, Peyton, will graduate from high school in the spring.

Wilson said his role as bullpen coach hasn't been fully defined yet, but it will mainly involve working with new pitching coach Cal Eldred.

"It's mainly supporting Cal and having a different perspective being a former catcher, rather than a pitcher," Wilson said.

Wilson replaced Doug Henry, who spent the past five seasons in that position. Henry pitched for 11 seasons in the Major Leagues. Wilson spent all or part of eight seasons in the big leagues.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Wilson earned a role on the major-league staff in a Kansas City Star story and was long viewed as a rising coach in the organization.

Wilson was given the Dick Howser Award for outstanding player development in the Royals' organization in 2016.

Naturals general manager Justin Cole echoed Wilson's words about the move being bittersweet.

"Vance has always been a friend to the organization even before he was the manager," Cole said. "He's a great guy on and off the field, and I'm very happy for him. But we will miss him."

Cole noted Wilson's ability to guide the Naturals to the playoffs for three straight seasons despite massive roster changes.

"That's part of the minor leagues, but he was always able to keep it in stride," Cole said. "One of his comments to me was he was disappointed that he couldn't bring a championship. But I just told him you brought us a ton. Look how many players you were able to help develop. You did a ton in your four years."

Also, former Naturals hitting coach Terry Bradshaw was named Royals hitting coach. He spent 2009-12 with the Naturals and served as Kansas City's minor league hitting coordinator last season.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Northwest Arkansas Naturals manager Vance Wilson was named the new bullpen coach for the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday...

Sports on 11/08/2017