VISALIA, CA - A mixture of new and familiar faces will take over the Coaching Staff of the Rawhide in 2018, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced.
Joe Mather will take the reigns as Field Manager for the Rawhide. Mather is serving in his second managerial role with the D-backs and is in his fourth year as a coach in Arizona's farm system. Mather began his managerial career with a bang in 2015, when led the Rookie-Advanced Missoula Osprey to a 42-33 record, a Pioneer League North Division Title, and ultimately a Pioneer League Championship. He returned to manage Missoula in 2016 and served as the Coach for Class Double-A Jackson last year.
Mather, 35, was a third-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2001 draft and enjoyed a four-year Major League Career, playing stints with St. Louis, the Atlanta Braves, and the Chicago Cubs. He spent 12 years in the Minor Leagues, where he appeared in 922 games.
Reigning California League Coach of the Year Jeff Bajenaru will serve as the Pitching Coach for the third straight season. Under Bajenaru's tutelage, the Rawhide led the Cal League in ERA (3.79) and strikeouts (1,346) while holding opposing hitters to a league-best .247 average against and posting nine shutouts. This will be Bajenaru's eighth year in the Diamondbacks organization. He previously worked as the Pitching Coach in Missoula for two seasons, where he helped guide the Osprey to a Pioneer League championship in 2015. A native of Pomona, California, Bajenaru was a 36th round selection by the Chicago White Sox in the 1999 draft. He made Major League appearances with the White Sox in 2004 and 2005, and also came up briefly with the D-backs in 2006.
Another new face on the Rawhide coaching staff will be World Series Champion Franklin Stubbs, who will serve as Visalia's new Hitting Coach. Stubbs is in his third season as a coach with the D-backs and his 22nd in a coaching capacity. Last year he was the Hitting Coach for Class Short-Season A Hillsboro, and has been a hitting coach in every season since 2005. Stubbs played a 10-year Major League Career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, with whom he won a World Series championship in 1988, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, and Detroit Tigers. In 945 career games, Stubbs slugged 109 doubles, 104 homers, and drove in 248 runs.
Travis Denker joins the Rawhide staff as the Coach in his coaching debut. Denker played a 12-year Minor League career across six organizations, with a 24-game taste of the Major Leagues with San Francisco in 2008, and finished his playing career last year with the D-Backs and Double-A Jackson. Over 1,133 career Minor League Games, Denker accrued a .274 average as well as 136 home runs and 577 runs batted in. He previously made five appearances in the California League as a player with Inland Empire, San Jose, and Rancho Cucamonga between 2007 and 2011.
Chris Schepel and Derek Sommerville will round out the Rawhide Coaching Staff in 2018 as the Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach respectively. Both will be in their second year with Visalia.
The Rawhide will seek to return to the California League playoffs in 2018 after missing the postseason for the first time in five years in 2017.
"We look forward to welcoming Joe as the Manager of the Rawhide and to continuing the recent success we've seen on the field," said Rawhide General Manager Jennifer (Pendergraft) Reynolds. "We're excited for the rest of great staff that has been put together as well. We're proud to be celebrating our 12th season with the Diamondbacks, who have been a great partner to both the Rawhide and to the Visalia Community.
2018 marks the 72nd year of professional baseball in Visalia at Rawhide Ballpark. The Rawhide will open their season on at home April 5th against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
The Visalia Rawhide are a professional baseball team in the Class A Advanced California League and are the only professional sports team in Tulare and Kings counties. The team has been an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks since 2007 and is entering their 72nd year of play in 2018. The Rawhide renovated their home at Recreation Ballpark in 2009 and have since become the largest gathering of individuals in Tulare County, having set an attendance record for the seventh time in the past eight seasons in 2017. In 2018, the Rawhide look to continue their reputation for hosting competitive baseball while providing affordable family entertainment. To be a part of the 2018 Visalia Rawhide season, please contact the Visalia Rawhide Ticket Office at 559.732.4433, visit us online at rawhidebaseball.com, or follow us on Facebook (TheRawhide), Instagram (@VisaliaRawhide), and Twitter (@VisaliaRawhide).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.