Doug Drabek returns; Rick Short, Jorge Cortés added to field staff
Jackson, Tenn. – The Arizona Diamondbacks have announced that Blake Lalli will manage the Jackson Generals in 2019, leading the field staff for the defending Southern League champions. Lalli, a former Major League Baseball player who spent time with the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, and Atlanta Braves, managed Arizona’s full-season Single-A affiliate at Kane County (Ill.) in the Midwest League last year.
Lalli’s field staff at Jackson will closely resemble his 2018 leadership corps at Kane County. Hitting coach Rick Short and coach Jorge Cortés will join the Generals in 2019, filling the same roles they manned last season under Lalli with the Cougars. Pitching coach Doug Drabek returns for his third consecutive year with the Generals in 2019. The Generals’ clubhouse continuity will also be fortified by the return of athletic trainer Joe Rosauer and strength and conditioning coach Mike Locasto, who are back at The Ballpark at Jackson for their second and third consecutive seasons, respectively.
BLAKE LALLI, 2019 MANAGER
Lalli, 35, shepherded the Kane County (Ill.) Cougars in 2018 to 72-66 record in the Midwest League as a first-year manager. Kane County won more than half of their games in both the First Half and Second Half of their season, and they finished among the top 25% of the league in runs per game (4.6) and ERA (3.46). Lalli, a former infielder and catcher at Gardner Webb University, lives in Shelby, North Carolina.
NOTES ON LALLI:
As a player:
*Won first-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors at third base (2005) & catcher (2006) for Gardner-Webb University (NC)
*Led all NCAA Division I players in 2005 with a school-record 30 doubles
*Became the first Gardner-Webb baseball player to record an at-bat and a hit in Major League Baseball (2012, Chicago Cubs)
*Career .135 hitter in 32 MLB games (Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves)
*Tallied a .285 lifetime batting average in 1,046 MILB games (2006-2017)
*Pitched in 23 MILB games, earning a 2-1 record with a 3.44 ERA, 15 strikeouts and 10 walks in 18.1 innings
*Three-time Southern League Midseason All-Star with the Tennessee Smokies (2009, 2010, 2011); postseason All-Star in ‘09
As a coach:
*2018: Managed the Arizona affiliate at Low-A (Kane County Cougars, Midwest League) to a 72-66 record, finishing 6th of 16
*2018 Midseason All-Stars from Kane County: C Renae Martinez, IF Jasrado Chisholm, RHP Matt Peacock, RHP Jeff Bain, RHP Matt Brill
DOUG DRABEK, 2019 PITCHING COACH
Drabek, 56, will tutor Generals pitchers for the third straight year. In 2018, Drabek oversaw a pitching staff that won the Southern League’s strikeout crown with 1,300 and set a franchise record in that category simultaneously. In addition, the Generals’ 2018 pitching staff held a league-best mark in walks-and-hits-per-inning-pitched (1.25), and the bullpen led the league with 58 holds. Drabek, a former pitcher at the University of Houston, lives in Texas outside Houston.
NOTES ON DRABEK:
As a player:
*1990 National League Cy Young Award Winner with the Pittsburgh Pirates
*1994 American League All-Star with the Houston Astros
*155-134 record with a 3.73 career ERA in 398 MLB games (New York Yankees, Pittsburgh, Houston, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore)
As a coach:
*2010-2018: Pitching coach in the Arizona ranks (Yakima ’10, Visalia ’11-’12, Hillsboro ’13-’15, Mobile ’16, Jackson ’17-‘18)
*2018 Jackson Generals pitching staff (regular season stats): 1,219.1 innings, 3.76 ERA, .229 opponent batting average, 12 shutouts, 32 saves, 9.6 strikeouts-per-nine, 2.6 K:BB ratio
*2018 Midseason All-Star pitchers from Jackson: RHP Taylor Widener, RHP Justin Donatella, RHP Mason McCullough
*2018 MLB Futures Game participant from Jackson: RHP Yoan Lopez
*2018 Southern League leaders from the Generals’ staff: starter Taylor Widener (.197 opponent BA, 1.03 WHIP, 11.6 strikeouts-per-nine, 9.4 baserunners-per-nine); reliever Yoan Lopez (.174 opponent BA, 12.7 strikeouts-per-nine)
*Notable D-backs prospects Drabek has coached while at Jackson, each of whom is currently on an MLB team’s 40-man roster (Arizona’s, unless otherwise noted): RHP Taylor Clarke (2017), RHP Joey Krehbiel (2017), LHP Gabriel Moya (2017, now with Minnesota), LHP Jared Miller (2017-18), RHP Joel Payamps (2017-2018), RHP Bo Takahashi (2018), RHP Emilio Vargas (2018), RHP Yoan Lopez (2018)
RICK SHORT, 2019 HITTING COACH
Short, 46, comes to Jackson after helping Kane County become one of the top offensive teams in the Midwest League in 2018. The Cougars’ offense finished among the top four teams in the 16-team circuit in runs scored (630), hits (1211), runs batted in (574), on-base percentage (.335), and batting average (.262). Short, a former player at Western Illinois University, resides in Peoria, Illinois.
NOTES ON SHORT:
As a player:
*Career .400 hitter in 11 MLB games (all with the Washington Nationals in 2005)
*Batted .319 over 1,163 career MILB games across six different organizations (Baltimore, Chicago Cubs, Anaheim, Montreal, Kansas City, Washington)
*Former West Tenn Diamond Jaxx player (8 games in 2001; 5-for-19, 5 runs scored, 5 walks)
*Played in Japan in five different seasons with Chiba Lotte (2003) and Rakuten (2006-2009)
As a coach:
*2010-2017: Served as an area scout with Arizona
*2018: Hitting coach for the Low-A Kane County (Ill.) Cougars of the Midwest League, an Arizona affiliate
*2018 notable hitters at Kane County: OF Ernie De La Trinidad (4th in batting average, .311; 2nd in on-base percentage, .403), 1B Yoel Yanqui (9th in batting average, .289; 2nd in hits, 143; 4th in runs scored, 83), C Renae Martinez (Midseason All-Star), IF Jasrado Chisholm (Midseason All-Star)
JOSE CORTÉS, 2019 COACH
Cortés, 38, will share a dugout with Lalli and Short for the second straight season after coaching with them at Kane County last year. Cortés helped supervise a Cougars defense last year that featured 25 different position players and turned 109 double plays. Cortés, a former Minor Leaguer who played 16 professional seasons internationally and the U.S., lives in Clearwater, Florida.
NOTES ON CORTES:
As a player:
*Played 860 MILB games, batting .282 as an outfielder over 10 seasons (1999-2008) in the Pittsburgh, Houston, and Chicago Cubs systems
*Spent extensive time in foreign and independent leagues, playing 761 games across Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. (2006-2014)
As a coach:
*2016-2018: Coach in the Arizona farm system (Dominican Summer League ’16, Hillsboro ’17, Kane County ’18)
The league-champion Generals will begin their title defense in April 2019, with their home opener set for April 10 at 6:05 pm CT against Chattanooga. For further information on tickets or merchandise, contact the team by calling (731) 988.5299 or go online to jacksongeneralsbaseball.com!
[ENCLOSURE: Photos of 2019 pitching coach Doug Drabek (left), 2019 hitting coach Rick Short (center), and 2019 coach Jorge Cortés (right).]