- The Houston Astros announced their 2007 coaching assignments, naming Pete Rancont manager of the Tri-City ValleyCats. Joining Rancont will be pitching coach Don Alexander returning to the ValleyCats for his third season, and hitting coach Joel Chimelis returning for his second.
"I am looking very forward to being a part of the ValleyCats", said Rancont. "I've heard a lot about Tri-City from Gregg (Langbehn), Don and Joel. They spoke highly of the great crowds, the league and level of competition. I'm looking forward to have the chance to be part of it."
Rancont has been a coach with the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League the past three seasons after spending the 2003 season with the Class A Salem Avalanche. He served 2002 with the Class A Lexington Legends and the 2001 season at Class A Michigan. Rancont first joined the professional ranks in 2001 after nearly 30 years coaching at the high school and college levels in Alabama. Most recently, Rancont spent 13 years as the head baseball coach at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (1987-99) following a five-year stint as the associate baseball coach at the school. During Rancont's tenure as head coach, UAB won three conference titles and participated in an NCAA regional. He was named the 1992 Great Midwest Coach of the Year after leading his squad to the conference title.
Rancont was a two-year letterman and a two-time All-SEC Eastern Division shortstop for Auburn during his college playing days, and he received his Master's degree from Auburn in 1983. Before starring for the Tigers, he lettered for two seasons at Gulf Coast Junior College in Panama City, Fla.
Don Alexander is entering his third year as the ValleyCats pitching coach. Alexander was part of the 2006 Stedler Division Championship team that came up one game shy of the league title. He coached a pitching staff that included 'Cats ace Chris Salamida, who was considered by many as the best pitcher in the league posting a 10-1 record with a 1.06 ERA. Salamida won the Most Spectacular Pitcher Award, which is given to the pitcher who had the lowest ERA in their respective classification. Alexander began his professional coaching career in the Astros organization with Class A Auburn in 1990.
Hitting Coach Joel Chimelis is also returning from last season's squad. Chimelis was behind an offense that produced two players ranked in the league's top five batting averages, including league leader and MVP, Jordan Parraz. Chimelis was a former infielder selected by the Oakland A's in the 11th round of the 1988 Major League Draft. He played thirteen years in the minors, posting career highs in homeruns (30) and RBI (98) while playing for Dos Laredos of the Mexican League in 2000.
John Patton will return for his fourth season as the ValleyCats athletic trainer.
Gregg Langbehn who managed the ValleyCats from 2004-2006 has been named manager of the Class A Lexington Legends. Langbehn compiled a record of 127-98 in his three seasons with the 'Cats. He managed the ValleyCats in 2004 and 2006 to Stedler Division Championships, both years advancing to the NYPL finals.
The complete Astros minor league coaching assignments for 2007 are:
Round Rock Express (AAA): Jackie Moore - Manager, Ron Jackson - Hitting Coach, Burt Hooton - Pitching Coach, Danny Sheaffer - Coach, Mike Freer - Trainer
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA): Dave Clark - Manager, John Tamargo Jr. - Hitting Coach, Stan Boroski - Pitching Coach, Jamey Snodgrass - Trainer
Salem Avalanche (A): Jim Pankovits - Manager, Chuck Carr - Hitting Coach, Larry Pierson - Pitching Coach, Eric Montague - Trainer
Lexington Legends (A): Gregg Langbehn - Manager, Alex Eckelman - Hitting Coach, Charlie Taylor - Pitching Coach, JD Shields - Trainer
Tri-City ValleyCats (A): Pete Rancont - Manager, Don Alexander - Pitching Coach, Joel Chimelis - Hitting Coach
Greeneville Astros (R): Rodney Linares - Manager, Bill Ballou - Pitching Coach, TBA - Hitting Coach/Trainer
The sixth season of ValleyCats baseball begins on Tuesday, June 19 against the Vermont Lake Monsters in Winooski, Vermont. The 'Cats home opener at Joe Bruno Stadium is Saturday June, 23rd against the Oneonta Tigers at 7:00pm. Season tickets, flex plans and mini plans are available now by calling (518) 629-CATS or by logging on to www.tcvalleycats.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.