CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Appalachian League announced its league-wide coordinators for the upcoming 2021 season. Ray Burris and Bob Keller will serve as pitching coordinators, and Homer Bush and Dave Hansen will be the hitting coordinators this summer. The quartet brings decades of coaching and playing experience to the 10-team national team development league that will feature the nation’s premier rising college freshman and sophomores.
The four coordinators will work with all 10 of the teams throughout the season, traveling to each of the Appalachian League cities. While with a team, the coordinators will manage individual and small-group workouts, as well as analyze data and video with athletes to give each of the league’s players additional personal instruction.
“We are really excited about the opportunity to bring these four experienced coordinators into the league this summer,” said Appalachian League President Dan Moushon. “These men have been around baseball for a long time and will provide more opportunities for our players to develop their game by learning from baseball veterans during their time in the Appalachian League.”
Ray Burris arrives to the Appalachian League as pitching coordinator with decades worth of experience in the same role. In addition to a lengthy 15-year big-league playing career, Burris has also spent the better part of the last three decades coaching in both the Major and Minor Leagues. He has worked in the Philadelphia Phillies organization since 2013, most recently as the club’s rehabilitation pitching coach. His coaching career began with a two-year stint as the bullpen coach for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1990-91, followed by a year in the same role with the Texas Rangers in 1992. Burris later worked in the minor league systems for the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers organizations as well. On the field, the 6-foot-5 righty took the mound 480 times, pitching 2,188.2 innings for seven teams from 1973-87. He recorded 47 career complete games and won 10 or more games in four different seasons. Burris was drafted in the 17th round of the 1972 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs for whom he would play the next seven years. He also saw action with the New York Yankees (1979), New York Mets (1979-80), Montreal Expos (1981-83), Oakland Athletics (1984), Brewers (1985, 1987) and Cardinals (1986).
World Series champion and seven-year MLB veteran Homer Bush will take on the role of hitting coordinator this summer. Prior to retiring in 2005 due to recurring injuries, the East St. Louis, Ill., native was a .285 career hitter in the big leagues and saw action with four different teams. Bush hit over .300 in each of his first three MLB seasons, including a breakout year in 1999 with the Toronto Blue Jays when he hit .320 with 55 RBI and stole 32 bases in 128 games. Drafted in the seventh round of the 1991 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres, Bush was traded to the New York Yankees in 1997, making his big-league debut later that year and helping the club win the 1998 World Series. He spent four seasons in Toronto, finished the 2002 campaign with the Florida Marlins and spent one more year as a Yankee before retiring in 2005 due to recurring injuries. Following his playing career, he has worked as the hitting coach for the Eugene Emeralds in the Padres organization, the Director of Youth Programs for the Texas Rangers and as a hitting instructor for several youth initiatives conducted by the MLB. Bush is also the author of “Hitting Low in the Zone: A New Baseball Paradigm.”
Dave Hansen will also serve as a hitting coordinator as a 15-year Major League veteran and later the hitting coach for three different big-league clubs. As a player, Hansen made his living as a pinch hitter, recording 138 career hits off of the bench which ranks sixth all-time in MLB history. He also holds the record for most pinch-hit home runs in a season with seven during the 2000 campaign. Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 1986 MLB Draft, Hansen spent 11 seasons in LA in stints from 1990-96 and 1999-2002. He also played for the Chicago Cubs (1997), Hanshin Tigers in Japan (1998) and spent parts of the 2003 and 2004 campaigns suiting up for both the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. Hansen’s coaching career began shortly after as the minor league hitting coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2007-10. He then moved up to the Major League level, eventually serving as the hitting coach for the Dodgers (2011-12), Mariners (2013) and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2014-17). Most recently, he worked three seasons as the minor league hitting coordinator for the San Francisco Giants.
Bob Keller joins Burris as a pitching coordinator with over 25 years of experience spanning both the amateur and professional ranks. Most recently the Director of Alabama Operations for the Knights Knation Baseball club team, Keller previously spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons as an area scout supervisor for the Seattle Mariners. The majority of the Long Beach, Calif. native’s coaching career has come at the collegiate level, beginning with a seven-year stint at Georgia State from 1995-2001. From there, Keller moved to Birmingham-Southern for three seasons before taking the pitching coach position at Michigan in 2005. He would spend six years with the Wolverines with his staff finishing in the top two of the Big Ten in overall team ERA three of his last four seasons. Keller’s next stop took him to Dallas Baptist for a season where he helped lead the Patriots to a 42-20 record and the program’s first NCAA Super Regional appearance. He then joined the coaching staff at South Alabama from 2012-17. During his tenure, the Jaguars won three Sun Belt Conference championships and made three NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Appalachian League is a USA Baseball national team development opportunity for the nation’s top rising college freshman and sophomores as part of the Prospect Development Pipeline (“PDP”), the collaborative effort between MLB and USA Baseball to establish a development pathway to the Draft for amateur baseball players in the United States.