TROY, NY - The Houston Astros announced their 2020 minor league coaching staffs on Tuesday, and have assigned Wladimir Sutil to serve as the next ValleyCats manager. John Kovalik returns for his second year as pitching coach, and Ernesto Irizarry joins the staff as hitting coach. Tanner Lubbach will serve
TROY, NY - The Houston Astros announced their 2020 minor league coaching staffs on Tuesday, and have assigned Wladimir Sutil to serve as the next ValleyCats manager. John Kovalik returns for his second year as pitching coach, and Ernesto Irizarry joins the staff as hitting coach. Tanner Lubbach will serve as development coach with Roman Rendon (athletic trainer) and Josh Peterson (strength coach) rounding out the staff. Sutil will become the first former ValleyCats player to manage the team and takes over for Ozney Guillen, who is no longer with the Astros organization.
Wladimir Sutil played 59 games for Tri-City in 2005. The infielder batted .325 with 13 stolen bases, and received New York-Penn League Midseason All-Star Honors that year. Sutil played professionally for ten seasons, including the first eight of his career in the Astros system. The 2020 season will be his seventh working for the Astros in player development. Sutil spent the last three seasons as the manager of the GCL Astros in the Gulf Coast League, where he compiled a combined record of 79-81.
John Kovalik spent 2019 as pitching coach with the ValleyCats. He will be returning for his second year in professional baseball after the 'Cats pitching staff led the New York-Penn League in strikeouts last season. Prior to that, he spent two years as the pitching coach at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, during which his pitching staff compiled a combined record of 57-39 (.594). A 27-year-old native of Aurora, Ohio, Kovalik is a 2014 graduate of Slippery Rock, for which he was a standout pitcher himself. During his playing career at SRU, Kovalik was a two-time All-Conference honoree, and was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association of America's All-Atlantic Region team as a junior in 2013.
Ernesto Irizarry will join the Tri-City staff as hitting coach after serving as the Astros head complex hitting coach in the Dominican Republic last season. 2019 was his first year with the Astros after working as an assistant hitting coach in the Independent Northwoods League in 2018 and as an assistant coach at Roosevelt University before that. Irizarry graduated from Roosevelt University with his MBA and bachelor's degree in criminal justice. He played at Roosevelt from 2011-12 before joining the Windy City Thunderbolts in 2013 and the Liga Beisbol Superior Doble A de Puerto Rico from 2014-16.
The 'Cats home opener is set for Wednesday, June 24th vs. the Williamsport Crosscutters. Season tickets, mini plans and flex vouchers for the ValleyCats' 2020 season are currently available for purchase online at tcvalleycats.com or by calling 518-629-CATS. The ValleyCats are also taking reservations for groups of 20 or more, and individual tickets are set to go on sale March 26, MLB's Opening Day.