'05 alums, ex-Minor Leaguer part of Sox Minors staffs

CHICAGO -- Matt Zaleski played 11 seasons of Minor League baseball, covering 958 1/3 innings and 316 games, of which 110 were starts.

The right-handed hurler from outside of Chicago never received that Major League break. But the 34-year-old hopes a move into the coaching ranks eventually will lead him to baseball's highest level.

"I have to work my way up and prove that I'm good enough," said Zaleski, who was named Tuesday as the new pitching coach for Chicago's advanced Rookie League affiliate, Great Falls, as part of the 2016 White Sox player development staff. "But hopefully it will be a long, long career."

Zaleski has quite possibly the most interesting story bringing him into the coaching ranks, having retired from playing after a sixth season with Triple-A Charlotte in 2014. But he's not the biggest name added to the overall staff.

Aaron Rowand already was announced as the organization's new outfield and baserunning coordinator, and Willie Harris, a fellow member of the 2005 World Series championship squad, joins Rowand and Zaleski as Great Falls' hitting coach. Harris, who interviewed for the job at the Winter Meetings in Nashville and accepted the position shortly thereafter, scored the lone run during the White Sox 1-0 victory in Game 4 of the '05 Fall Classic to complete the four-game championship sweep of the Astros.

2005 White Sox: Aaron Rowand

Five managers return to the White Sox organization, with four moving to different clubs from last season. Julio Vinas will manage Charlotte after spending the 2013-15 seasons at Double-A Birmingham. Joel Skinner moves to Class A Advanced Winston-Salem after leading the Knights from 2012-15, while Cole Armstrong will manage Class A Kannapolis (Great Falls in 2015).

Tommy Thompson joins Zaleski and Harris at Great Falls this season (Kannapolis in 2015). Mike Gellinger returns as manager of the Arizona Rookie League White Sox, leading the team to a 2015 AZL championship.

Ryan Newman takes over at Birmingham after serving as an assistant coach with Charlotte from 2014-15. Newman previously managed in the White Sox system with advanced Rookie League Bristol (2009-10), Great Falls (2011-12), where he won a Pioneer League title in '11, and Winston-Salem (2013). Tim Esmay, who served as the Winston-Salem manager last season, moves to an assistant coach role with Charlotte.

Nick Capra embarks on his fifth season as the White Sox director of player development, and Kirk Champion continues as the organization's field coordinator for the fifth consecutive season. Justin Jirschele, whose dad, Mike, serves as the Royals' third-base coach, moves from a White Sox Minor League player into the coaching ranks as the hitting coach for Kannapolis.

Although Zaleski worked with the team during '15 instructional league play, he was not offered the coaching position until after instructs were completed in early October. He had sound mechanics and survived as less than a pure stuff guy on the mound, hoping now to impart his pitching wisdom upon young players and recent Draft picks in some cases.

"After playing as long as I did, it was something that I was hoping to get accomplished and have happen," said Zaleski, who pitched for Great Falls in '04 after being drafted in the 30th round. "But whether it was going to or not was another story. So, it's good that everything came to fruition."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.