The Fort Wayne TinCaps will be managed by Francisco Morales this year, the San Diego Padres announced today.
“I’m excited to be joining the Fort Wayne community and to work with the TinCaps family,” Morales said in a press release. “I feel blessed to have the opportunity to manage, especially at a place with such a great ballpark and front office. I can’t wait for the season to get here. I’m ready to go.”
Morales was the hitting coach of the Double-A San Antonio Missions last year. Prior to joining the Padres organization, he coached three seasons in the Cleveland Indians system and four seasons in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. He was the hitting coach of the South Bend Silver Hawks from 2008 to 2010.
Morales played 12 seasons in the minor leagues, for the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Montreal Expos, and two independent-league teams. He also played 11 games in the Mexican League. When he was a Cubs farmhand, he played 19 games with the Peoria Chiefs, batting .204 with 3 HR and 11 RBI.
Morales replaces Michael Collins, who managed the TinCaps to a 63-76 regular-season record and the second round of the Midwest League playoffs last year. Collins will manage the Lake Elsinore Storm, San Diego’s High-A affiliate in the California League, this year.
Joining Morales on the TinCaps coaching staff are Burt Hooton and Lance Burkhart.
This will be Hooton’s third season as Fort Wayne’s pitching coach. Hooton is a veteran of 15 major-league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers. Before joining the Padres organization in 2013, he served as a pitching coach for the Houston Astros, at the major-league and Triple-A levels.
Burkhart will be Fort Wayne’s hitting coach. His older brother, Morgan Burkhart, was the TinCaps’ hitting coach the past two seasons, and will serve in that same capacity for the Double-A San Antonio Missions this year. Lance Burkhart was manager of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League last year, and was hitting coach of the Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers the previous four years.
Lance Burkhart’s 13-year minor-league playing career included two stints in the Midwest League. He batted .282 with 17 HR and 64 RBI in 58 games with the 2000 Beloit Snappers. He also played three games with the 2003 Clinton LumberKings, going 2-for-9 in 12 plate appearances.