The Missoula Osprey, in conjunction with the Arizona Diamondbacks, announced today that former major league infielder, Mike Benjamin will manage the club for the 2017 season.
Benjamin managed the Single-A Kane County Cougars in 2015. As a player, Benjamin was a star at Arizona State before being drafted in the third round of the 1987 amateur draft by the San Francisco Giants. Benjamin played 13 seasons in the big leagues taking the field for the Giants (1989-1995), Phillies (1996), Red Sox (1997-1998) and Pirates (1999-2000, 2002).
On June 14, 1995, Benjamin tied a Giants single-game record with six hits in a game. This was part of a stretch in which he tied the major league record for most hits in two consecutive games with ten, set a major league record for most hits in three consecutive games with 14, and tied another record for most hits in four consecutive games with 15.
Joining Benjamin in the dugout will be two former major leaguers Micah Franklin as the hitting coach and Shane Loux as the pitching coach.
Franklin, a third round selection of the New York Mets in the 1990 amateur draft, hit .324 in 37 plate appearances for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1997, his lone major league season. Franklin, an outfielder, played in the Pioneer League in 1992 as a member of the Billings Mustangs, where he hit .335 with 11 homeruns and 60 RBIs. Toward the end of his career (1999-2000, 2002-2003), Franklin played professionally in Japan and Korea. He retired as a player in 2004 after a stint with the then Arizona Diamondbacks Triple-A affiliate in Tucson.
Loux (pronounced LEW-ks) was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the second round of the 1997 amateur draft. Loux pitched in five major league seasons for the Tigers (2002-2003), Angels (2008-2009) and Giants (2012). Loux had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and did not play affiliated baseball again. He was most recently the pitching coach for the Sussex County Miners of the Can-AM Independent League.
"We are excited to announce our 2017 Osprey coaching staff," said Osprey Executive Vice President Matt Ellis. "All three coaches played in the majors and bring a wide range of experience in professional and collegiate baseball. Our players will benefit from their knowledge and our fans will enjoy them as people."
The Osprey and Diamondbacks also announced Chad Moeller as the clubs trainer and the strength and conditioning coach as Scott Shipman.
The Osprey coaching influence is evident at the major league level, as former Osprey player and manager Andy Green will be in his second season as the manager of the San Diego Padres. Two other former Osprey coaches will return to Green's staff in San Diego, including former Osprey hitting coach Alan Zinter in that same role and former Osprey pitching coach Doug Bochtler as the bullpen coach for the Padres. Former Osprey pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. returns as the pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners. Former Missoula Osprey and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale will be the third base coach for the Oakland Athletics. The Arizona Diamondbacks major league coaching staff has two former Missoula Osprey managers on their coaching staff, Tony Perezchica as the third base coach and Robby Hammock as the quality control/catching coach.
In the Diamondbacks minor league system, former Osprey hitting coach J.R. House will be the manager of the Double-A, Jackson Generals, where the O's manager for the past two seasons, Joe Mather will serve as an additional coach.
"We will miss our manager for the past two seasons, Joe Mather, but we are excited for his promotion to Double-A," said Ellis. "Having worked with Mike Benjamin in the past, I am confident he will continue our amazing legacy of quality managers who bring out the best in our team."
Former Osprey pitching coach, Jeff Bajenaru will be the pitching coach in Advanced-A Visalia for a second season. Former Osprey hitting coach, Vince Harrison returns to join Bajenaru as the hitting coach for the Rawhide. Tack Wilson, the O's hitting coach in 2015 will be the hitting coach for the AZL D-Backs. Franklin Stubbs, the O's hitting coach in 2016, will be the hitting coach for the Hillsboro Hops.
Luis Urueta, who played for the Osprey in 2002, has been named to replace Tony Perezchica as the D-backs Field Coordinator, while former Osprey pitching coach Wellington Cepeda will return as the short-season pitching coordinator. Hatuey Mendoza, another former Osprey coach is the Coordinator of Latin American Operations.
The 2017 Osprey season will open Monday, June 19 at Billings. The Osprey home opener is set for Friday, June 23, when the O's take on the Great Falls Voyagers. Season tickets and other ticket packages are on sale now at the MSO Hub located at 140 N. Higgins, by phone at (406) 543-3300 and online at MissoulaOsprey.com.