Rakuten Monkeys Announce 2020 Coaching Team

On December 30, the Rakuten Monkeys announced their coaching team for the 2020 CPBL season. Among a group of 18 coaches, there are two foreigners, Tommy Cruz and Tom Signore.

Tommy Cruz: 1st Team Guest Hitting Coach

Taiwanese baseball fans are very familiar with Tommy Cruz as he has been coaching in Taiwan since 2014. The 69-year-old Cruz started as the hitting coach for the Taiwanese Junior National Team (U-18, U-21, U-23).

In 2016, Tommy Cruz began his CPBL coaching career as the guest hitting coach for the Chinatrust Brothers. In 2018, the Fubon Guardians poached Cruz from the Brothers and added him to the coaching team.

Two years later, Tommy Cruz changed camp once again by signing with the Rakuten Monkeys. According to the Monkeys’ press release, Cruz will report to the team in mid-January and will stay with the team for the first part of the first-half season.

“Tommy Cruz has been coaching in Taiwan for many years and is well-received by a lot of players,” said the Rakuten Monkeys’ general manager. “We are honoured to have him on board.”

According to ETtoday, Tommy Cruz’s salary is almost on-par with the top-tier foreign player in the CPBL. With that information, many speculate it is between $20,000 to $30,000 USD per month.

Tom Signore: Farm Team Pitching Coach

The Monkeys’ fans have been asking for a legit pitching coach in the last couple years, and today they got their wish. 57-year-old Tom Signore has 16 years of coaching experience in the minor league for several MLB organisations (Expos, Marlins, Blue Jays, Mets and Pirates).

Signore was named Player Development Coach Of The Year on three different occasions and named as the All-Star Game pitching coach five times in various leagues. [Information via Baseball Jobs Overseas]

“We have around 20 pitchers in the farm team, and it’s time to bring on a foreign coach to help out,” said the Monkeys’ general manager. “We hope Tom Signore can utilise his experience in player development and strengthen our farm team prospects.”

The last time the Monkeys had a foreign pitching coach was during the 2017 season with Kento Sugiyama (杉山賢人). In 2018, Sugiyama returned to the NPB and became the farm team coach for the Seibu Lions.


  1. The Australian Baseball League is really the winter league for pitchers hoping to catch on with a CPBL team. Both Thomas Dorminy and Rick Teasley are pitching well in Oz this season, and I’m sure they and fellow Atlantic League pitcher John Anderson would all jump at the chance to pitch in the CPBL in 2020. With rule change allowing 4th foreign pitchers to rotate in without having to release one of the other three, I could see all three potentially getting signed by CPBL teams.

    Two pitchers I like are Jared Koenig and J.J. Hoover. Koenig turns 26 in January. He had a terrific season in the Indy-A Frontier League last summer and is pitching great in Oz. Because of his age, I don’t see him having any real chance of reaching the major leagues, and if he realizes that, he might be willing to sign a contract to be a CPBL team’s 4th foreign pitcher. Pitching in Taiwan would be a better long-term option for him because if he succeeds he could move up to the KBO or NPB.

    JJ Hoover is 32 years old and has significant MLB major league experience. He got hit hard in the AAA Pacific Coast League in 2019 (8.47 ERA based on 127 hits, 26 HRs and 40 walks allowed in 95.2 IP), but he also struck out 89 batters, so he could still have enough left to succeed in the CPBL in 2020. I don’t see an MLB organization signing him for 2020, so his options are the CPBL, the Mexican League or the Atlantic League. If he’s pitching in Oz, he’d probably be interested in pitching in Taiwan.

    • I like Rick Teasley and I still believe teams here should give him another chance. Like you said, as a 4th backup would be ideal.

      I don’t see Thomas Dorminy returning for 2020, he doesn’t have enough stuff to suppress the hitters here.

      Generally speaking, players coming from American Association, Frontier League / CamAm (new merge name?) normally don’t perform that well in Taiwan. Scott Richmond was the only exception.

      I still think Atlantic League is the go-to indie league to sign mid-season replacement. However, with all the new experiments the MLB are doing with the Atlantic League in 2020, I wonder if that will affect the CPBL teams’ decision on signing players from there.


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