FORMER CRAWDADS MANAGERS ASSIGNMENTS FOR 2009
With the assignment of Hector Ortiz as the manager for the 2009 Hickory Crawdads by the Texas Rangers, fans may have interest as to the whereabouts in baseball of other Crawdads managers of the past.
The most recent manager of the Crawdads, Gary Green ('07-'08), has been assigned to the Pirates new Low-A Affiliate, the West Virginia Power. Crawdads' fans can see Gary, as well as 2008 pitching coach Jeff Johnson, also with West Virginia, June 18-21 and August 8-11.
Jeff Branson ('05-'06) has been named by the Pirates as the hitting coach at AAA Indianapolis. Branson has been with Lynchburg the past two seasons. Former pitching coach Ray Searage has also been assigned to Indianapolis.
The manager of Hickory's 2004 South Atlantic League Championship team, Dave Clark ('04) has been promoted to the big leagues in 2009 as he will serve as the Houston Astros third base coach. Clark has been in the Astros organization since leaving the Crawdads after the 2004 season. Clark led the Corpus Christi Hooks to the 2006 Texas League Championship.
The other manager to lead Hickory to a South Atlantic League Championship in 2002, Tony Beasley ('02-'03) will return for a second season as the Pirates third base coach.
The defending World Series Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, will have a new bench coach in the 2009 season. Pete Mackanin ('01) will serve in that position under Manager Charlie Manuel. Mackanin has previously served as interim managers for both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
Tracy Woodson ('99) is in his 4th season as the head baseball coach of Valparaiso University. The Crusaders compete in the NCAA Division I Horizon League.
The final manager of the Chicago White Sox affiliation Mark Haley ('98) will begin his 5th season with the Arizona Diamondbacks Low A affiliation in South Bend, IN. Haley has led the Silver Hawks to the championship series in the Midwest League in 2 of his 4 seasons.
Chris Cron ('96-'97) will return for a third season to manage the Great Falls Voyagers, the rookie league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Cron managed the Voyagers to the 2008 Pioneer League Championship. Cron has managed in the White Sox system at all levels since 1995.
Mike Rojas ('95) will return for a second season as the Detroit Tigers Minor League field co-ordinator. Rojas most recently managed the Tigers AAA team in Toledo in 2007 as they finished first in their division.
Jay Loviglio ('00) and Fred Kendall ('93-'94), the team's inauguaral manager are not currently in baseball. Loviglio last managed with Lynchburg in 2004, while Kendall last served as Buddy Bell's bench coach at Kansas City in 2007.
Finally, a pair of former hitting coaches in recent seasons have landed positions with the Chicago White Sox. Greg Briley will serve as the hitting coach with the Kannapolis Intimidators of the South Atlantic League, and Ryan Newman has been tabbed for his first managerial position at Bristol of the Appalachian League.
The holiday season curtailed much of the activity following the 2009 Baseball Winter Meetings. However, there were a few former Crawdads to sign new contracts.
Jose Castillo ('00) signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals. Castillo has been invited to spring training. In 2008, Castillo split time with the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros, combining to hit .246 with 6 HRs and 37 RBIs.
Brad Eldred ('03) also signed a minor league deal with the Nationals with an invitation to spring training. The big first baseman had a huge year with AAA- Charlotte (Chicago White Sox) hitting 35 HRs with 100 RBIs to go with a .244 batting average.
Victor Mercedes ('01, '03, '05) signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mercedes spent the past 3 seasons with the White Sox organization. The infielder hit .272 with 12 HRs and 59 RBIs for AA Birmingham.
Greg Norton ('93) , one of the last original Crawdads still playing, re-signed with the Atlanta Braves. After an early season trade from Seattle, Norton led all Major Leaguers with three pinch-hit homers, 18 pinch-hit RBIs, and 17 pinch-hit walks.
Crawdads' 2007 MVP Jonel Pacheco ('07) re-signed a minor league contract with the Pirates. Pacheco hit .288 with 12 HRs and 53 RBIs with AA- Altoona.
Josh Shortslef ('03-'04) signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Shortslef spent 9 seasons in the Pittsburgh organization, the last with AA- Altoona. In 29 games, mostly in relief, the lefthander was 5-2 with 3 saves and a 3.47 ERA.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.