ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) announced today that it has named Arizona Diamondbacks Vice President, Latin Operations Junior Noboa as the recipient of the 12th annual Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award, presented to an individual with distinguished service who has been instrumental in player development.
The award honors Bender as a longtime front office executive and consultant who spent 39 years with the Cincinnati Reds. Noboa will receive his award at the Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet on Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
Noboa recently completed his 25th year with the Diamondbacks and eighth as Vice President, Latin Operations. In his current role, he oversees Arizona's baseball academy in Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic and serves as the team's liaison to its Latin American prospects.
Noboa was the organization's first international hire in August 1995 and a month later, signed the organization's first two Latin players. Among the players that have been signed and developed during Noboa's tenure are Miguel Montero, Gerardo Parra, Ender Inciarte, Carlos González, Vicente Padilla, José Valverde and Emilio Bonifacio. In 1997, Noboa was the first recipient of the Roland Hemond Award, given to a member of the baseball operations department who best exemplifies the D-backs' approach to their work.
In 2014, he played an integral role in creating a first-of-its-kind program to further the education of the team's Latin American players and staff. The program ensures participants can complete their high school education, develop English skills and successfully integrate in U.S. culture of North America while building a foundation for career alternatives, if needed. In five years, the program has allowed 36 prospects to graduate high school. He is currently involved in the club's efforts to build a new player development and education academy in the Dominican Republic, scheduled to open in 2020.
Noboa has sat on the board of trustees for the Dominican Republic Sports and Education Academy and has served on the coaching staff for his native Dominican Republic in the 2006, 2009 and 2017 World Baseball Classic, most recently as the bench coach. Noboa played in parts of eight Major League seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics and Pittsburgh Pirates.
"I feel honored to be chosen as the recipient of such a wonderful award," said Noboa. "I would like to share this honor with all my teammates I have worked with over the years as they have been a big part of this, along the great support of my organization, the Arizona Diamondbacks."
"We are so proud of Junior and can think of no better recipient for an award named in Chief's honor," said Diamondbacks President & CEO Derrick Hall. "His commitment to the game of baseball is unparalleled and the positive impact he has had on development of talent as a player, coach, manager, general manager and leading executive places him in rare company. He is one of the most talented evaluators and teachers our game has ever seen in Latin America, Arizona and the United States."
"Few people can match the impact Junior Noboa has had on baseball in the Dominican Republic throughout his career," said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O'Conner. "Whether it has been facility construction, scouting, player development or personal development, Junior has done so much for so many young Dominican players that it would make Chief Bender proud and it is my pleasure to present him with this award."