FRESNO, Calif. - In conjunction with their parent club the Houston Astros, the Fresno Grizzlies have announced their field staff for the 2017 season. Manager Tony DeFrancesco will return for this third year at the helm; "Tony D." is the only manager the Grizzlies have known during their relationship with the Astros, and 2017 will be his seventh season as Houston's Triple-A skipper. Pitching coach Dyar Miller is also returning to the club, while Fresno will welcome newcomers at hitting coach, athletic trainer, and strength and conditioning coach.
Tony DeFrancesco, Manager: Entering his 33rd season in professional baseball as either a player, coach, or manager, Tony DeFrancesco has guided Fresno to a .549 winning percentage during his first two seasons with the Grizzlies, including the 2015 Pacific Coast League and Triple-A National Championships. The 2017 season will be DeFrancesco's 23rd as a manager.
DeFrancesco has guided his club to a winning record in 18 of his 22 seasons as a manager, including each of the last five years. He has four Pacific Coast League titles on his resume, managing Sacramento to the crown in 2003, 2004, and 2007 before Fresno's run in 2015. DeFrancesco also has Major League coaching experience, having served as the Oakland Athletics' third base coach in 2008. He was also the final manager of the Houston Astros as a National League franchise, guiding them for the final 41 games of the 2012 season as interim manager.
DeFrancesco will turn 54 on April 24 of this season, when he'll be in pursuit of his 11th division title as a minor league skipper.
"We're ecstatic to have Tony DeFrancesco back as manager in Fresno, his track record in this game speaks for itself," remarked Grizzlies General Manager Derek Franks. "April 6 can't come soon enough: We've grown accustomed to winning ways here at Chukchansi Park under Tony D, and with his expertise and the great players we've had with the Astros, we are excited to see what's next."
Dyar Miller, Pitching Coach: Dyar Miller, 70, is entering his fifth season with the Houston Astros, and his second as the organization's Triple-A pitching coach. A season ago, Miller led the fifth-ranked staff ERA (4.08) in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, and also presided over right-handed starter Brady Rodgers winning the PCL Pitcher of The Year Award. Rodgers won the PCL ERA title (2.86, third in Grizzlies history), while posting the third-most victories in Grizzlies' history (12). Rodgers' WHIP (1.15) was also the third-best in franchise history, becoming the first Fresno pitcher to be recognized as the PCL's top hurler. Rodgers ended the 2017 season with the Astros, where he joined reliever James Hoyt, who under the tutelage of Miller converted 29 saves, two shy of a franchise record which would have fallen easily if not for his MLB call-up.
Entering his 50th year in professional baseball playing or coaching, Miller played in seven Major League seasons with the Orioles, Angels, Blue Jays and Mets, posting a 3.23 ERA in 251 MLB appearances. He's been a coach or instructor with the White Sox, Cardinals, Indians and Tigers organizations during his long career.
Darryl Robinson, Hitting Coach: Darryl Robinson is entering his 21st season in professional baseball as a player or coach, and will guide Astros minor league hitters in California for the ninth consecutive season. Robinson spent the previous eight years as the hitting coach of the A-Advanced Lancaster JetHawks in the California League, a position he first assumed in 2009. He was named Cal League Hitting Coach of the Year in 2013, and helped Lancaster to the California League championship a season later in 2014. Robinson's coaching career followed him playing professionally for over a decade (1986-1998); he was a second round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals in 1986, playing seven seasons with that organization.
Lee Meyer, Athletic Trainer: Lee Meyer, a newcomer to the organization, joins the Houston Astros after serving as a minor league athletic trainer with the New York Yankees from 2010 to 2016. With the Yankees, Meyer worked with athletes at all three Class A levels and Double-A, and has also worked with Cardenales De Lara of Venezuela as head athletic trainer during winter ball the last three seasons.
Taylor Rhoades, Strength & Conditioning Coach: Taylor Rhoades is entering his fourth season with the Houston Astros, and the Grizzlies will be the fourth different Astros affiliate he's served in as many years (Short-Season A Tri-City- 2014, A-Advanced Lancaster- 2015, Double-A Corpus Christi- 2016). Rhoades was a Division I baseball player at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Aaron DelGiudice, Development Coach: Aaron DelGiudice returns to the Astros for his second season as a development coach. Last year, he split his time between Fresno and A-Advanced Lancaster. In his role, DelGiudice helps guide and support player development initiatives across all areas of the game. He also pitched for the University of Tampa baseball program during his four years at the school.
ABOUT THE FRESNO GRIZZLIES
The Fresno Grizzlies, Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, are a member of the 16-team Pacific Coast League and are one of 30 teams in the world playing the highest level of Minor League Baseball. The team plays at 12,500-seat Chukchansi Park in Downtown Fresno, which is also a year-round community gathering place, hosting myriad other special events beyond Grizzlies' games, such as concerts, professional soccer and high school sporting events. The Grizzlies will enter the 2017 season - their 20th in Fresno - on the momentum of back-to-back winning seasons, including a PCL and National Championship in 2015. For information on 2017 Fresno Grizzlies season ticket and mini-plans, fans should call the Grizzlies' ticket office at 559.320.TIXS between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.