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Iapoce gets big league call with Rangers

Spent past 10 years as Minor League hitting instructor

ARLINGTON -- Anthony Iapoce is a native of Queens, N.Y., who played baseball at Lamar University and had an 11-year professional career end with the Gary SouthShore Railcats of the Northern League.

The last 10 years have been spent as a hitting instructor in the Minor Leagues with the Marlins, Blue Jays and Cubs. On April 4, he will be in a Major League dugout for the first time as the Rangers' new hitting coach.

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"As we get closer and I'm on the line for the national anthem, it will probably hit me for the first time," Iapoce said Thursday after his hiring was announced by the Rangers. "The last 21 years have been time-consuming, going through four different organizations trying to get here. It's an exciting time for myself and my family … there are a lot of emotions and a lot of people to thank."

Iapoce was a surprise pick for the job. He has never been in the Major Leagues and has never been connected to the Rangers. But general manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers heard good things about Iapoce from their scouts and Minor League personnel who watched him from afar.

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He was on their list when they went looking for a replacement for Dave Magadan and found he was highly regarded with the Cubs. Iapoce spent the last three years with the Cubs as a special assistant overseeing their Minor League hitting program. The Cubs have produced some of the best young hitters in the game in the last few years, including Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber.

"Anthony is going to be an outstanding Major League hitting coach," Cubs hitting coach John Mallee said. "His knowledge of the swing, approach and ability to communicate to all different types of people is really special. He will connect immediately with the players and staff and bring knowledge, energy and a passion to win. He will be greatly missed in Chicago. He is ready for this new chapter and should be a Ranger for years to come."

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said he sees Iapoce as being an "offensive coordinator" as much as a hitting coach -- not only working with hitters individually but as a group on a team approach to scoring runs.

That means preparing for the opposing pitcher and making in-game adjustments, while calling for situational hitting and aggressive baserunning.

"We talked about it last year, how do you show up to score runs and beat the other team?" Banister said. "How do you put together an approach to beat the starting pitcher that night and make adjustments during the game?"

"Everybody wants to talk about hitting and approach," Iapoce said. "I think of it as outscoring the other team, whether it's outslugging them or getting on base, bunting, situational hitting, winning a game 1-0. It's all about executing a run-scoring culture."

The Rangers were third in the American League with 751 runs scored last season. While they have their own highly-regarded group of young hitters coming up through the system, Iapoce will be working with a veteran lineup next season that includes Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Shin-Soo Choo, Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus.

That could be a little different than working with top prospects.

"It comes down to making a connection and talking with them," Iapoce said. "These guys have a history of sustained success. I want to get to know these guys on a personal level and what they want to do to get better. Great players want to get better.

"It's a great opportunity. I've watched these guys on TV and [saw] the passion they had in the playoffs. It is a really exciting lineup and a really exciting team."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.
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