Valenzuela becomes eighth manager in Hot Rods history
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The Bowling Green Hot Rods have announced the team’s 2023 coaching staff.
The team will be led by Rafael Valenzuela Jr. in his first year with the club.
Valenzuela, 35, becomes the eighth manager in Hot Rods history.
The Nogales, Arizona native earns his fourth managerial assignment after skippering the 2019 GCL Rays and the 2021 FCL Rays, who finished 42-15 and won the league championship.
He was named the FCL manager of the year for 2021 and returned to the FCL Rays in 2022, finishing with a league-best 39-16 record.
Other coaching stops for Valenzuela included serving as a coach for the GCL Rays in 2016 and 2017 while also serving as the Durham Bulls third base coach in 2017.
In 2018 he coached the Princeton Rays, as well.
As a player, Valenzuela played left field and the corner infield positions over four seasons where he eventually reached AA with the Houston Astros.
He was taken by the Kansas City Royals in the 25th round of the 2006 Amateur Draft, instead electing to play at Cochise College in 2007 before playing at the University of Arizona and signing with the Astros as a free agent.
Fans can follow Valenzuela on Twitter at the handle: @RafyValenzuela.
Skeeter Barnes, 65, returns to the Hot Rods as the bench coach for his third season.
Bringing over a decade of coaching experience as the Rays’ Outfield and Baserunning Coordinator, Barnes also managed the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays, a former member of the Midwest League, in 2006 and the Lakeland Tigers, Florida State League, in 2000.
Other coaching stops include the Toledo Mud Hens, West Michigan Whitecaps, Indianapolis Indians, Orlando Rays, and Montgomery Biscuits.
Barnes enjoyed a successful playing career, logging over 350 MLB games with the Reds, Tigers, Expos, and Cardinals. His number was retired by the Nashville Sounds in the early 1990′s.
R.C. Lichtenstein returns as the Hot Rods pitching coach after a decade away from Bowling Green.
Lichtenstein was the first pitching coach in Bowling Green history from 2009–2011 before making stops with the Montgomery Biscuits (2012-2019) and the Charleston RiverDogs (2021-2022).
Before arriving in Bowling Green in 2009, Lichtenstein coached with the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays (2005-2006) and the Vero Beach Devil Rays (2007-2008).
He’s also coached in Australia and in the Arizona Fall League.
The University of Illinois at Chicago product was also in the stands for the Hot Rods 2021 High-A East Championship win.
Paul Rozzelle returns to the Hot Rods as the hitting coach for his second season.
Rozelle spent eight seasons at the helm of the Catawba Valley Community College Men’s Baseball team, where he was the school’s winningest coach in program history with 228 wins.
While at CVCU, Rozzelle was awarded the NJCAA Southeast District Coach of the Year Award, as well as the Diamond/American Baseball Coaches Association Southeast Coach of the Year.
Prior to Catawba Valley, Rozzelle had stints with the Morgantown Militia, the Statesville Owls, and the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series.
Paul also played collegiate golf at Appalachian State University and is from Hickory, North Carolina.
The Hot Rods new Athletic Trainer in 2023 will be Ruben Santiago.
Santiago begins his eighth season as an athletic trainer with the Rays. He’s spent last season with the Charleston RiverDogs following 2021 where he worked for the FCL Rays.
Ruben has also spent three seasons with the Princeton Rays and two with the Gulf Coast League Rays to round out his time with Tampa Bay.
In 2016, Santiago worked for the Toros del Este, a member of the Dominican Winter League.
Garrett Hudson joins the Hot Rods staff as the new conditioning coach.
Hudson joined the Rays organization in 2022 and was with the FCL Rays after spending three years as a performance coach in New Hampshire for Wasserman Strength.
He holds a master’s degree in exercise science from Merrimack College.
The Hot Rods begin their quest for a third-straight championship on April 6 on the road while Bowling Green opens their home schedule on April 11 against the Rome Braves.
Season tickets are on sale now and fans can secure their seats today by calling 270- 901-2121, visiting the Bowling Green Ballpark box office during normal business hours, or going to www.bghotrods.com.
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