The Missoula Osprey, in conjunction with the Arizona Diamondbacks, announced today that Mike Benjamin, who managed the O's to both the first and second half titles in the Pioneer League's Northern Division in 2017 will return in the same role for the clubs 20th season in Missoula.
The accomplishment of winning both halves in 2017 was a first in franchise history.
As a player, Benjamin was a star at Arizona State before being drafted in the third round of the 1987 amateur draft by the San Francisco Giants. Benjamin played 13 seasons in the big leagues taking the field for the Giants (1989-1995), Phillies (1996), Red Sox (1997-1998) and Pirates (1999-2000, 2002).
On June 14, 1995, Benjamin tied a Giants single-game record with six hits in a game. This was part of a stretch in which he tied the major league record for most hits in two consecutive games with ten, set a major league record for most hits in three consecutive games with 14, and tied another record for most hits in four consecutive games with 15.
Shane Loux returns from the 2017 season as the pitching coach for the Osprey. The O's staff allowed the least amount of walks in the Pioneer League last year while finishing second in saves and fifth in ERA.
Loux was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the second round of the 1997 amateur draft. Loux pitched in five major league seasons for the Tigers (2002-2003), Angels (2008-2009) and Giants (2012). Loux had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and did not play affiliated baseball again.
Jose Amado joins the Osprey as their hitting coach after spending 2017 as the hitting coach for the Kane County Cougars (Class A-Midwest League). Amado played 14 professional seasons, primarily as a corner infielder in the Mariners, Royals and Reds organizations. Prior to being the hitting coach in Kane County, Amado was the hitting coach for the Hillsboro Hops in 2016.
A new coach for the 2018 Osprey is bullpen coach Eddie Oropesa. Oropesa pitched in the major leagues for the Phillies ( 2001), Diamondbacks (2002-2003) and the Padres (2004). He finished with an 8-4 record in his big league career. In 2012, Oropesa was hired by the Los Angeles Dodgers to work with their newly signed Cuban player Yasiel Puig.
"We are excited to announce our 2018 coaching staff and for it to include our manager and pitching coach that led us to winning both halves last year, it is great for both us and our fans," said Osprey Executive Vice President Matt Ellis. "Adding Amado, who has been a hitting coach in the D-Backs system and Oropesa to work with our young pitching staff will only make us that much stronger."
The Osprey and Diamondbacks also announced Damon Reel as the clubs trainer and the strength and conditioning coach as Derek Clovis.
The Osprey coaching influence is evident at the major league level, as former Osprey player and manager Andy Green will be in his third season as the manager of the San Diego Padres. Former Osprey pitching coach Doug Bochtler is the bullpen coach for the Padres. Former Osprey pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. returns as the pitching coach for the Seattle Mariners. Former Missoula Osprey and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale will be bench coach for the Washington Nationals. The Arizona Diamondbacks major league coaching staff has two former Missoula Osprey managers on their coaching staff, Tony Perezchica as the third base coach and Robby Hammock as the quality control/catching coach.
In the Diamondbacks minor league system, former Osprey hitting coach J.R. House will be in his first season as field and catching coordinator. Former Osprey pitching coach Wellington Cepeda will return as the Short-Season pitching coordinator.
Former Osprey manager Joe Mather will be the manager of Class-A Advanced Visalia. Joining Mather will be former Osprey hitting coach Franklin Stubbs and former Osprey pitching coach Jeff Bajenaru.
Triple-A Reno will once again have former Osprey pitching coach Gil Heredia, who will be in his third season with the Aces in the same role. Double-A Jackson will have former Osprey hitting coach Vince Harrison as their hitting coach.
2017 Osprey hitting coach Rick Short will be in the same role with the Class-A Kane County Cougars. Another former Osprey coach Hatuey Mendoza will be a coach with the Arizona League D-Backs.
The 2018 Osprey season will open Friday, June 15 at Billings. The Osprey home opener is set for Tuesday, June 19, when the O's take on the Helena Brewers. Season tickets and other ticket packages are on sale now at the MSO Hub located at 140 N. Higgins, by phone at (406) 543-3300 and online at MissoulaOsprey.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.