Pilittere & Davis among Additions
Moosic, Pa. – A year removed from claiming the franchise’s second-ever Governors’ Cup and first Triple-A National Championship, the SWB RailRiders’ (Triple-A/New York Yankees) coaching and support staff will look similar with subtle changes. The returning forces include manager Al Pedrique, pitching coach Tommy Phelps, athletic trainer Darren London, clubhouse manager Mike Macciocco and strength-and-conditioning coach Brad Hyde. New to the staff are hitting coach/former SWB player P.J. Pilittere, and defensive coach Doug Davis. The Yankees are expected to add both a bullpen coach and a video manager to the staff at a later date.
Pedrique, a native of Venezuela, earned International League Manager of the Year honors in 2016, his first SWB campaign. The RailRiders became the first IL team to win 90 games since the 2002 SWB Red Barons finished 91-53. These RailRiders tied the 2002 unit for the franchise record in wins. By virtue of playing one less game, they set a new team record for best winning percentage (.636). Pedrique managed the Double-A Trenton Thunder to a 71-71 showing in 2015 a year after skippering the Advanced-A Tampa Yankees to a 71-68 record in 2014. He led the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs to a 75-63 mark in 2013. Before joining the Yankees organization, he served as a coach or manager in the Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks organizations over 16 years. He spent the 2010-11 seasons as the bench coach for the Houston Astros and also served as the third-base coach for the Diamondbacks’ major league club in 2003. He began 2004 as the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A manager, but was handed interim managerial duties after the July firing of Bob Brenly. Originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1978, Pedrique went on to play in parts of three seasons with the Mets (1987), Pirates (1987-88) and Tigers (1989). He played parts of five seasons in the International League for Tidewater/Norfolk (1985-86, 87, 91) and Toledo (1989).
Phelps enters his 10th season as a coach in the Yankees organization and second straight with SWB. His 2016 hurlers ranked among the IL’s best in: ERA (1st, 2.98); WHIP (2nd, 1.18); H/9 IP (1st, 7.8); K/9IP (2nd, 8.6); K:BB ratio (1st, 3.1:1); HR (2nd, 86); SV (T-1st, 45). The RailRiders became the first IL team to finish with a sub-3.00 ERA since the 1980 Columbus Clippers. Starter Jordan Montgomery set a new club record for consecutive scoreless innings at 29.2. SWB pitching picked up 1,198 strikeouts, obliterating the franchise record of 1,157 set by the 2013 unit. The RailRiders’ 24 shutout wins paced the minors and shattered the single-season franchise record. Additionally, four of SWB’s six IL playoff wins were shutouts. The Tampa native spent 2015 with the Tampa Yankees after a six-year run coaching Trenton’s hurlers (2009-14). He served as the Yankees’ minor league rehabilitation coach in 2008. Among his recent accolades, the Trenton pitching staff ranked second in the Eastern League in strikeouts in 2014 (1,093) and allowed the fewest home runs in 2013 (85). Two of his 2015 pupils ranked among the Florida State League’s strikeout leaders in Gabriel Encinas (3rd, 116) and Rookie Davis (5th, 105) while the staff led the loop in whiffs (1,074). Phelps pitched for 14 seasons from 1993-2006 in the Montreal (1993-99), Detroit (2000-01), Florida (2002-04), Milwaukee (2005) and Yankees (2006) organizations including parts of two seasons in the IL with Toledo (2001) and Columbus (2006). The former big leaguer appeared in 75 MLB games with the Marlins (2003-04) and Brewers (2005), going 4-5 with a 4.34 ERA. He was originally an eighth-round pick by Montreal in the 1992 draft.
Pilittere enters his sixth season as a coach in the Yankees organization and his first with SWB. The former Cal State Fullerton captain led his alma mater to the College World Series in 2004. A 13th-round pick by the Yankees that same year, he hit .264 with 77 doubles, 16 home runs and 183 RBIs in 470 career minor league games over eight seasons in the Yankees system. He twice led his league in fielding percentage, producing a .995 mark with Double-A Trenton in 2007 and a .998 number with Advanced-A Tampa in 2006. He played for the then-SWB Yankees from 2009-11. He spent 2015 as Double-A Trenton’s hitting coach after doing the same with Tampa in 2014 and Charleston in 2013. He made his pro debut as a coach in 2012 with the Rookie GCL Yankees.
Davis, a native of Bloomsburg, Pa., enters his first season with the Yankees organization. The 54-year-old is no stranger to the IL, having served as Syracuse’s manager under Toronto’s umbrella from 2007-08. In 2009, the Blue Jays elevated him to minor league catching coordinator. From the next season through 2016, he served as Toronto’s minor league field coordinator. The former catcher played professionally for 11 seasons between 1984 and 1994 in the minor league systems of California, Kansas City and Texas. He made it to the big leagues on two separate occasions, scoring one run in six games with the Angels in 1988 and collected a hit in his only at-bat with the Rangers in 1992. He has been in coaching since 1995, serving as a minor league manager for eight seasons, posting a 515-484 record including championships with Pittsfield in the NY-Penn League in 1997 and Columbia in the South Atlantic League in 1998. He spent two seasons in the bigs as the Marlins’ bench coach from 2003-04, winning the World Series against the Yankees in 2003.
London, the International League’s Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2006 and 2012, has spent more than two decades as the Yankees’ Triple-A athletic trainer with this season marking his 25th at the level and 29th in a row with the organization. He has been SWB’s athletic trainer since the team became the Yankees’ top satellite in 2007.
Hyde, a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, returns for his second straight SWB campaign. He has spent time with minor league teams under the Cincinnati Reds’ and San Francisco Giants’ umbrellas before serving as the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Reds in 2013. From 2014-15 he had the same role in the Bronx for the New York Yankees, and has spent the last several off-seasons with MLB’s European Academy in Italy.
Macciocco, an NEPA product, has spent multiple seasons in the SWB clubhouse including the team’s trying 2012 season without a true home stadium as PNC Field was reconstructed. After a one-year run in the head role with the Double-A Mobile Bay Bears in 2013, he took over primary clubhouse duties for SWB in 2014.
The 2016 Gildan Triple-A National Champion RailRiders open their 2017 home schedule on Monday, April 10 against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia Phillies). For tickets or more information, please call 570-969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.
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