In conjunction with the Houston Astros, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers are excited to announce the club’s coaching staff ahead of the 2022 season. The Woodpeckers will be led by Joe Thon, who returns to Fayetteville for a second season after serving as a development coach during the 2021 campaign. Joining Thon’s
In conjunction with the Houston Astros, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers are excited to announce the club’s coaching staff ahead of the 2022 season. The Woodpeckers will be led by Joe Thon, who returns to Fayetteville for a second season after serving as a development coach during the 2021 campaign. Joining Thon’s staff will be pitching coach John Kovalik, hitting coach Jose Puentes and development coach Vincent Blue. Erik Braun will serve as the athletic trainer, while Matt Jones will work as the strength coach.
“I am very excited and fortunate to be back in Fayetteville for another season,” said Thon. “The fans in this city and the atmosphere under the lights at Segra Stadium make it one of the best in Minor League Baseball. Our coaching staff is great and I can’t wait to work with them throughout the season. Go Peckers!”
Thon, 30, joined the Astros organization in 2021 after a stint as an assistant coach at the University of Houston. 2022 will mark his first season as an MiLB manager following a successful minor league playing career.
Raised in Puerto Rico, Thon was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 5th round of the 2010 draft out of Academia Perpetuo Socorro in San Juan, Puerto Rico and spent seven professional seasons in the Blue Jays and Cardinals systems. His father, Dickie Thon, is a former professional shortstop who played in Major League Baseball for the California Angels, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers.
Kovalik, enters his first season in Fayetteville and third with the Houston Astros after being hired before the 2019 season. He spent his first year in the organization as the pitching coach for the Tri-City Valley Cats and continued to coach pitchers at the Astros Florida Complex in West Palm Beach in 2021. Prior to his time with Houston, Kovalik was the pitching coach at Slippery Rock University from 2016-2018, where he oversaw all aspects of the team’s pitching program. He also played four seasons in the Independent leagues for the Frontier Greys and the Gary-Southshore Railcats.
Puentes also heads to North Carolina for his first season with the Woodpeckers as hitting coach, a role he served in the Florida Complex League in 2021. Puentes played college baseball at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio and followed up his collegiate experience with a transition into high school coaching around Texas. He broke onto the pro circuit with the Astros in 2020 and now embarks on his second full season in the organization. Blue also begins his first season with the Woodpeckers as a development coach. Blue is a former professional player who was drafted out of Lamar High School (Texas) by the Detroit Tigers in 2001. He continued to play professionally in affiliated and independent baseball through 2012. In addition to his work with the Astros, Blue is the current owner of BE Elite Baseball, a youth travel academy, and is a founder of the Universal Baseball Players Association.
The Woodpeckers open their season on the road in Kannapolis on Friday, April 8th with the home opener scheduled for Tuesday, April 12th against the Salem Red Sox at Segra Stadium.