FORT WAYNE, Ind. - The Fort Wayne TinCaps, in conjunction with the San Diego Padres, announced their 2013 field staff today. Manager Jose Valentin and Pitching Coach Willie Blair will both return to Parkview Field, while former major leaguer Morgan Burkhart will begin his first season as hitting coach. Athletic Trainer Ricky Huerta will join the club for his first season in Fort Wayne.
Valentin, 46, led the TinCaps to the Midwest League Championship Series in a 74-win campaign during his managerial debut season. The veteran of 16 major league seasons was named the Low-A Manager of the year for 2012 by Baseball America in his first season on the bench. He sent three players to the Midwest League All-Star game and had two players named as Midwest League Post-Season All-Stars, marking the first time Fort Wayne placed multiple players on that list since 2003. He also managed Yeison Asencio, the first-ever Midwest League batting champion in the 20-year history of the franchise. The Manati, Puerto Rico, native played finished his major league career with a .243 batting average, 816 runs batted in and 249 home runs. In addition to playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, Valentin also spent time with the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, before retiring in 2009.
Blair, who spent 12 seasons in the major leagues with eight different teams, will lead Fort Wayne's pitching staff for a third consecutive year. During the 2012 season Blair oversaw the development of relief pitcher Matt Stites, who was named the Low-A All-Star relief pitcher of the year by Baseball America. Blair, a Paintsville, Kentucky, native and Morehead State University graduate, also guided Adys Portillo, who was 3-11 with a 7.11 ERA in 2011, to a 6-6 record with a 1.87 ERA in 2012 that netted the pitcher a July promotion to Double-A San Antonio. The TinCaps' staff ERA of 3.59 was fifth-best in the 16-team Midwest League.
Burkhart replaces former major league outfielder Jacque Jones as Fort Wayne's hitting coach. The 40-year-old Burkhart is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. During his major league career, Burkhart played for the Boston Red Sox in 2000 and 2001, and for the Kansas City Royals in 2003. Most recently, he served as the manager of the Windy City ThunderBolts, an independent team in the Frontier League. Prior managerial experience also includes three seasons at the helm of the independent Calgary Vipers.
Huerta, who served as the trainer for the Arizona League Padres last season, joins in the TinCaps in that same role. The 26-year-old Los Angeles native will be entering his fourth season with the Padres organization.
The 2013 season marks the 15th consecutive year of Fort Wayne's affiliation with San Diego.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.