Franklin will be joined in the dugout once again by pitching coach and former Major Leaguer Tommy Phelps who returns for a fifth season, as well as Coach Luis Dorante and Athletic Trainer Scott DiFrancesco, each return for year two in Trenton. The coaching staff will include new additions Hitting Coach Justin Turner and Strength and Conditioning Coach Orlando Crance.
"Tony Franklin is a true professional and a great asset to the Thunder and our community," said Thunder General Manager Will Smith. "We're happy to welcome Tony back to guide the team during our 20th season celebration."
Franklin guided the Thunder to back-to-back Eastern League Championships in 2007 and 2008 as well as Eastern League Championship Series appearances in 2010 and 2012. He has led Trenton to the post-season in four of his six seasons and owns a career managerial record of 1080-973 including a record of 488-390 with Trenton (records include post-season). The skipper recorded his 1,000 career managerial win and was named Eastern League Manager of the Year in 2012.
The 2008 Eastern League Championship was Franklin's third title as manager. In 1993, he led South Bend (Single-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) to the Midwest League Championship. Prior to his time in Trenton, Franklin spent most of the last 11 years as the Minor League Infield Instructor for the San Diego Padres. His managerial career began with the White Sox organization as the manager for Geneva (NY) of the New York-Penn League in 1982.
Franklin spent four seasons in Geneva, making the playoffs in 1985. After one season with Wytheville (Appalachian League), he guided the White Sox affiliate in the Florida State League, the Sarasota White Sox, to a playoff appearance in 1989. Franklin spent two years as the skipper of the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League, including 81 wins in 1991 and a berth in the Championship Series.
Tommy Phelps will return for his fifth season as the pitching coach for the Thunder. Phelps pitched for the Florida Marlins in 2003 and 2004 including a 2003 season in which he went 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 27 games (seven starts). He was part of a Marlins team that won the World Series over the Yankees. Phelps pitched in 29 games for Milwaukee in 2005 and went 7-4 with a 4.45 ERA in 2006 with Columbus (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees). Phelps was originally an eighth round pick by Montreal in the 1992 draft.
Hitting Coach Justin Turner has spent the last two seasons as the Tampa Yankees hitting coach after spending one year with the Charleston RiverDogs. Turner was originally selected by the Angels in the eigth round of the 2001 draft. He played four seasons of affiliated baseball in the Angels (2001-04) and Red Sox (2004) organizations.
Coach Luis Dorante spent last season as Coach for the Trenton Thunder and the prior four years in the Pirates organization, serving as the Latin American Field Coordinator in 2011. From 2008-2010, he was the Pirates Bullpen Coach, having joined the Major League staff on November 20, 2007. He served the Florida Marlins in the same capacity during the 2005 campaign.
Dorante's managerial career began with the Montreal Expos in the Gulf Coast League in 1995. The former Harrisburg Senators skipper returns to the Eastern League for the first time since the 2001 season. In 11 seasons as a minor league manager, Dorante led his team to the playoffs four times and compiled a record of 671-696. Primarily a catcher during his playing days, Luis also made appearances at first base, third base and in the outfield during his six-year minor league career.
Athletic Trainer Scott DiFrancesco has been in the Yankees organization for six years after spending last year with Trenton. Prior to that he was with Tampa for 2011 and the previous three with Charleston. He also completed an internship at the Yankees complex in Tampa, FL in 2006. He has a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Ball State University.
The 2013 Trenton Thunder season will begin on Thursday, April 4 at Portland with the home opener slated for Thursday, April 11 vs. Richmond.