FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno Grizzlies announced today their field staff assignments from the Houston Astros for the 2015 season. New manager Tony DeFrancesco becomes the ninth skipper in Grizzlies history, while pitching coach Arthur "Ace" Adams, hitting coach Leon Roberts, developmental specialist Jeff Murphy, athletic trainer Bryan Baca, and strength and conditioning coach Trey Wiedman round out the field staff.
"We are very excited to have Tony fully healthy and ready to resume his leadership role managing our Triple-A affiliate staff and players in Fresno," stated Quinton McCracken, Houston Astros Director of Player Development. "Tony is one of the most highly decorated managers in minor league baseball, has a great rapport with his players and is a proven winner. We are delighted to have him back at the helm as we begin the new Astros Baseball Chapter here in Fresno."
DeFrancesco, 51, enters his fifth consecutive season as the Astros Triple-A manager, 21st season as a Minor League Baseball manager, and 31st overall in professional baseball. The Suffern, New York native overcame cancer last season and managed the final 92 games (45-47) in Oklahoma City. Over the course of his career as a minor-league manager, DeFrancesco has amassed 1,369 overall wins on way to posting 16 winning seasons. The 2015 season marks his 12th managing in the Pacific Coast League (2003-07, 2009-10, 2011-15), which will tie him for sixth all-time. During his time managing in the PCL, he's collected three championships (2003-04, 2007) and seven division titles (2003-05, 2007, 2009-10, 2013). His teams have routinely had a reputation for being aggressive on the basepaths, with the latest example being his Oklahoma City squad that swiped a PCL-leading 172 bases in 2013. Over his last four seasons as the skipper for the Houston Astros Triple-A affiliate, 31 players have received their first Major League callup. Fresno marks the third managing stop for DeFrancesco along Highway 99, as he spent seven seasons in Sacramento (2003-07, 2009-10) and two in Visalia (1997-98).
Adams, 62, moves into his first season as a pitching coach with the Astros organization and 39th overall in collegiate or professional baseball. Most recently, Adams held the same position for the past seven seasons across three minor-league levels with the St. Louis Cardinals organization (2008-14). Throughout his coaching career, the Longmeadow, Massachusetts native has worked with notable arms such as Marco Gonzalez (STL), Lance Lynn (STL), Michael Wacha (STL), Trevor Rosenthal (STL), Jon Lester (CHC), Anibal Sanchez (DET), Jonathan Papelbon (PHI), Josh Beckett (Retired), Dontrelle Willis (MIL), Brad Penny (CWS), and Cliff Lee (PHI). He began his coaching career at Bentley University (Mass.) in 1978 and moved onto other pitching coach assignments with Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Brandeis University, and then the University of Michigan, where he helped recruit Derek Jeter and tutored current Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Adams was drafted in 1971 by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Wellesley High School (Mass.), but chose to attend the University of Michigan.
Roberts, 64, returns as a hitting coach at the Astros' Triple-A level for the fourth straight season and enters his 45th season in professional baseball. Prior to his appointment with the Astros, the Vicksburg, Michigan native spent 17 straight seasons as a minor-league hitting coach between the Atlanta Braves (1995-98, 2007-11), Cincinnati Reds (2001-06), and Tampa Bay Rays (1999-2000) organizations. During those years, he tutored All-Stars Andruw Jones, Jay Bruce, and Joey Votto, as well as current Astros 40-man roster players George Springer and Jon Singleton. Drafted in the 10th round out of the University of Michigan in 1972, Roberts went on to play 12 seasons in the Majors with the Detroit Tigers (1974-75), Houston Astros (1976-77), Seattle Mariners (1978-80), Texas Rangers (1981-82), Toronto Blue Jays (1982), and Kansas City Royals (1983-84), batting a career .267 (731-2737) with 78 home runs and 328 RBI.
Murphy, 44, enters his second season as developmental specialist. Prior to his time coaching in the minors, Murphy spent the 2013 season as the bullpen catcher for the Houston Astros, and another 12 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (2000-11) in the same capacity.
Baca, 34, enters his first season as an athletic trainer at the Triple-A level and ninth overall with the Astros organization. His previous assignment came in the same capacity with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks (2013-14).
Wiedman, 28, begins his first season as a strength and conditioning coach at the Triple-A level and fourth overall with the Astros. Also promoted from Double-A Corpus Christi (2013-14), Wiedman had previously worked at high schools around his hometown of Memphis, Arkansas. He graduated from the University of Memphis in 2010, spending four years on the baseball team and leading the club in six offensive categories as a sophomore.
Tony DeFrancesco will ink his first official lineup card as the Grizzlies manager on April 9, 2015 for Opening Day at Chukchansi Park when Fresno faces the Las Vegas 51s (NYM) at 7:05 PM. Season tickets, mini plans, and group options are now on sale by calling the Grizzlies ticket office at 559.320.8497. Stay updated on 2015 promotion announcements by following the Fresno Grizzlies on Twitter (@FresnoGrizzlies), Instagram (instagrizz_fg), and Facebook. Visit FresnoGrizzlies.com for more information.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.