Former big-league pitcher Burt Hooton will serve as pitching coach of the Fort Wayne TinCaps this year, replacing Willie Blair, who was promoted to bullpen coach of the parent club San Diego Padres.
Hooton pitched 15 years in the major leagues — 10 years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, four years with the Chicago Cubs, and one year with the Texas Rangers. He threw a no-hitter for the Cubs in his fourth major-league start. He was MVP of the 1981 National League Championship Series when he was with the Dodgers, who won the World Series that year.
Hooton will be part of a coaching staff led by returning manager Jose Valentin, who was named Low-A Manager of the Year by Baseball America in 2012.
Big day for former Snappers
A trio of Minnesota Twins prospects who formerly played with the Beloit Snappers did well in the Puerto Rican Winter League yesterday.
Kennys Vargas, Daniel Ortiz and Eddie Rosario combined for nine hits and 7 RBI for Los Indios de Mayaguez in their 14-7 win over Los Gigantes de Carolina. You can see the box score here.
Vargas batted .318 with 11 HR and 36 RBI in 41 games with the 2012 Snappers. Ortiz batted .249 with 12 HR and 84 RBI in 151 games with the 2011-12 Snappers. Rosario batted .296 with 12 HR and 70 RBI in 95 games with the 2012 Snappers.
Two minor-league catchers suspended
Two minor-league catchers were each suspended 50 games after testing positive for methylhexaneamine, a banned performance-enhancing substance. Both are former Midwest League players.
David Wendt, a Tampa Bay Rays farmhand, batted .220 in his brief, 13-game stint with the 2010 Bowling Green Hot Rods. Bryan Henry, formerly an Arizona Diamondbacks farmhand but currently a free agent, batted .259 in 23 games with the 2012 South Bend Silver Hawks. The latter player is not to be confused with Minor League Baseball’s other Bryan Henry, who pitched 90 innings for the 2008 Silver Hawks.
Rule changes tentatively approved
There are three notable rule changes expected to be implemented in Major League Baseball this year. Here’s the skinny, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark:
Baseball owners approved a rule change last week … that would allow coaches and managers to bring interpreters to the mound this season for conferences with foreign-born pitchers who don’t speak fluent English.
That was one of several rules changes that were voted on and tentatively approved at last week’s MLB owners meetings. The changes now must be approved by the players’ union in the coming weeks in order for them to be implemented for this season.
Two other notable rules that are expected to go into effect this season:
• Teams will be permitted to have a seventh coach in uniform, in the dugout, during games. Previously, clubs were allowed to have just six coaches dressed for a game. But with numerous teams adding a second hitting coach this year, clubs pushed for permission to have a seventh coach in uniform, and owners agreed.
• The fake-to-third, throw-to-first pickoff move now would be considered a balk. Baseball’s Playing Rules Committee voted last year to outlaw the trick move, but the union vetoed that change temporarily, pending further discussion. MLB has the ability to implement that change unilaterally for this season, but is hopeful the players will agree to the new rule so it can be implemented jointly, sources said.