2023 Blue Rocks Coaching Staff Released
The Washington Nationals today announced their 2023 field staff for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, headlined by the return of four familiar faces. Mario Lisson will return at the helm as the manager of the 2023 Blue Crew, after leading the team for the first time in 2022. Pitching coach Mark
The Washington Nationals today announced their 2023 field staff for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, headlined by the return of four familiar faces.
Mario Lisson will return at the helm as the manager of the 2023 Blue Crew, after leading the team for the first time in 2022. Pitching coach Mark DiFelice, development coach Mark Harris and strength & conditioning coach Brandon Pentheny round out the returning field staff for the upcoming season for the Blue Rocks, which is in their third season as a Washington Nationals affiliate. Micah Franklin joins the staff as hitting coach, after spending the 2022 season in Harrisburg (Double-A). In addition, the ‘Rocks will welcome a new trainer for the first time since 2021, as Don Neidig heads to Harrisburg and Kirby Craft will make the move to Wilmington after spending last season with the Fredericksburg Nationals (Single-A). Finally, the Blue Rocks will welcome Paul Sirena as the team’s first Performance Analyst.
Lisson, 38, returns to Wilmington in his second season as field manager. However, this is Lisson’s third overall season on the Riverfront, having also spent the 2007 campaign as an infielder with the club. That year, Lisson batted .285 with 132 hits, which included 27 doubles, 8 homeruns and 61 RBI in 118 games played (110 games at third base). He was named to both the Carolina League’s mid-season and postseason All-Star teams.
The Caracas, Venezuela native is the 18th different manager in Blue Rocks’ history, and is just the second internationally-born skipper (along with Cambridge, Ontario, Canada native Scott Thorman, 2019).
Lisson signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Kansas City Royals on April 1, 2002. He spent the first 10 years with the Royals, until moving to the Mexican League in 2013. He spent the 2014 season with the San Francisco Giants (Richmond, Double-A), 2015 with the Nationals (Harrisburg, Double-A and Syracuse, Triple-A), 2016 in the Mexican League, and then back with the Nationals in 2017 (Harrisburg, Double-A and Syracuse, Triple-A).
In 2018, Lisson transitioned into coaching as he was named the manager for the GCL Nationals, and managed the team for two seasons. He was set to manage the Nationals Low-A Hagerstown Suns in 2020, before the season was canceled. In 2021, he was assigned to manage the new Single-A Fredericksburg Nationals.
DiFelice, 46, will serve as the Blue Rocks’ pitching coach again in 2023. Originally drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 15th Round of the 1998 MLB June Draft, the Havertown, PA, native, spent 14 seasons in professional baseball as a pitcher, including three Major League seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. There, he appeared in 77 games out of the bullpen, going 5-1 with a 3.79 ERA. He began his coaching career in 2018 as the pitching coach for the Clinton LumberKings (Miami Marlins).
Franklin, 50, will serve as the hitting coach, after serving in the same capacity in Harrisburg in 2022. Drafted by the New York Mets in the third round of the 1990 amateur draft, Franklin made his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1997. The San Francisco, CA, native also spent time playing overseas in both Japan and Korea, before joining the Seattle Mariners as a scout in 2015. Franklin has served as a hitting coach in the Diamondbacks organization, first with the Hillsboro Hops in 2017, and then with the Kane County Cougars the following year. In 2022, Franklin joined the Washington Nationals and was assigned as the hitting coach for Harrisburg.
Harris, 64, will return as the development coach for the Blue Rocks in 2023. A first-round draft selection of the New York Yankees (25th overall) in the 1978 MLB January Draft, the Bristol, VA, native, spent three seasons as an infielder in the Yankees minor league system. Harris joined the Nationals player development staff as a coach in 2011. Following a few years of scouting for the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies, Harris joined the Kansas City Royals as a roving hitting coach in 2007. He spent the 2008-10 seasons as the Royals’ minor league infield coordinator. Once he joined the Nationals in 2011, he served as hitting coach for Potomac (2011), Hagerstown (2012), Potomac (2013), Harrisburg (2014-15), Auburn (2016-19), and the FCL Nationals (2021).
Craft is entering his 10th season with the Washington Nationals, and first as the athletic trainer for the Blue Rocks. Craft spent the last two seasons serving in the same position in Fredericksburg.
Pentheny will also return for his second year as Wilmington’s strength & conditioning coach for the 2023 season.
Rounding out the 2023 staff is the addition of the team’s first performance analyst, Paul Sirena, in his first year with the Nationals.