New faces will be taking over the Visalia coaching staff in 2017, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced.
Shelley Duncan will take the reigns as Field Manager for the Rawhide. Duncan has served for two previous years as a Manager in the Diamondbacks organization, having spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons at the helm of the D-backs Short-Season A affiliate in Hillsboro. Duncan led the Hops to a 42-33 overall record in 2016, and a resurgent 24-13 mark in the second half of the season that culminated in the club’s third consecutive trip to the Northwest League postseason.
Duncan, 37, played in parts of seven major league seasons for the Yankees, Indians, and Rays, and enjoyed a 14 year career overall. A second round draft pick in the 2001 MLB draft, he made his big league debut in 2007 and retired following the 2014 season.
Familiar faces will also be returning to Visalia in 2017, as Pitching Coach Jeff Bajenaru and Hitting Coach Vince Harrison will serve as top instructors once again. This will be Bajenaru’s second season in Visalia, and his seventh in the Diamondbacks organization overall. He previously worked as the Pitching Coach in short-season 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.
Harrison will work in his second season with the Rawhide, and is entering his fourth year as an instructor in the D-backs organization. He has also served as a coach for Missoula, the Kane County Tigers, and the West Virginia Power. The 36-year-old Lexington, Kentucky, native spent parts of nine seasons in the Minor and Independent Leagues. He is the older brother of Josh Harrison (a 2014 All-Star with the Pittsburgh Pirates), and is the nephew of 2-time World Series champion John Shelby.
Eddie Oropesa joins Visalia as the Bench Coach for 2017. A former pitcher hailing from Cuba, Oropesa spent four years at the Major League level with the Phillies, D-backs, and Padres as part of a 16 year professional career that spanned visits to the Mexican League, Independent baseball, and Minor League stops with seven organizations. Oropesa spent the 2016 season as a bench coach with the AA Mobile Bay Bears and worked in 2012 and 2013 as a Coach/Interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star Yasiel Puig.
Chris Schepel, and Mike Locastro will round out the Rawhide Coaching Staff in 2017 as the Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach respectively. Both will be in their first year with Visalia.
The Rawhide will seek a fifth consecutive playoff appearance in 2017 after advancing to the California League Finals last year.
“We look forward to welcoming Shelley as the Manager of the Rawhide and to continuing the recent success we’ve seen on the field,” said club General Manager Jennifer Pendergraft. “We’re excited for the rest of great staff that has been put together as well. We’re proud to be celebrating our 11th season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have been a great partner to both the Rawhide and to the Visalia Community.
2017 marks the 71st year of baseball in Visalia at Recreation Ballpark. The Rawhide will open their season on April 4th, and will host their home opener on April 13th against the Inland Empire 66ers. For tickets and more information, visit Rawhidebaseball.com or call 559-732-4433.