With the season fast approaching, the Hillsboro Hops announced their 2021 coaching staff Tuesday, Feb. 16, and it's full of fresh faces.
Vince Harrison was named by the parent Arizona Diamondbacks to manage the team, and will be joined by pitching coach Shane Loux, hitting coach K.C. Judge, and Juan Francia. Damon Reel will serve as the team's trainer, and Nathan Friedman will be the strength and conditioning coach.
Harrison will be in his second season as a manager after leading the Diamondbacks' Class-A Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League in 2019. He spent the previous five seasons as a hitting instructor in the Arizona organization, and helped the Double-A Jackson Generals to a Southern League leading batting average and league title in 2018.
The 41-year-old played both baseball and football at the University of Kentucky before spending five minor league seasons with the Rays, Mets and Marlins.
"(Former Hops manager) Javier Colina is one of my closest friends in baseball," said Harrison. "He and guys like (former Hops hitting instructor) Micah Franklin and (former Hops pitching coach) Mike Parrott always told me how great it was in Hillsboro. With the Hops being Short Season before, I felt like I missed my opportunity moving past them on the ladder to go there. With them moving up to High A, I'm glad I get the chance."
Hitting coach K.C. Judge begins his second season with the Diamondbacks organization and first at High-A. He worked at Rookie-level Missoula in 2019 and played parts of four seasons as an infielder/outfielder in the independent leagues from 2012-15 after graduating from Division III Cal Lutheran in 2011. He served as a private hitting instructor from 2015-18 in both Durham, North Carolina and Tallahassee, Florida.
Coach Juan Francia (pronounced "frawn-SEE-uh") enters his fifth season with the Diamondbacks organization. In 2016, he was a coach for the Diamondbacks' Dominican Summer League affiliate, followed by three seasons as manager—two in the Dominican, and in 2019 with the D-backs' Rookie-level Missoula affiliate. His playing career included eight seasons in the affiliated minor leagues with the Tigers and Yankees, topping out at Triple-A with the Yankees in 2007.
The 2021 season will be the first for the Hops at the High-A classification, which will consist of 132 games (66 at home), up from the 78 (39 at home) they'd played annually since their arrival in Hillsboro in 2012.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.