Hessman promoted to hitting coach at Erie

Minor League home run king served in same position at West Michigan

January 11th, 2018

DETROIT -- Three years after Mike Hessman's playing career ended, the former Tigers farmhand and Minor League home run king is climbing the farm system once more. He'll be the new hitting coach at Double-A Erie, the Tigers announced Thursday as part of their Minor League staff appointments.

Hessman, 39, who served as hitting coach at Class A West Michigan last year, replaces Phil Clark, who was promoted from the SeaWolves staff to assistant hitting coach in Detroit under new manager Ron Gardenhire and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon.

Most of the coaching staffs in the Tigers system remain unchanged. Jeff Pico and Brian Harper stay on with Triple-A Toledo as pitching and hitting coach, respectively, under new manager Doug Mientkiewicz. Pitching coach Willie Blair stays in Erie under new manager Andrew Graham, who was promoted earlier this offseason from Class A Advanced Lakeland. Santiago Garrido, who pitched in Erie for parts of the last two seasons, will serve as an extra coach.

New Lakeland manager Mike Rabelo, who won Midwest League Manager of the Year honors at West Michigan last year, inherits pitching coach Mark Johnson and hitting coach Tim Garland, while Francisco Contreras makes the jump from Gulf Coast League hitting coach to the Florida State League team.

New West Michigan manager Lance Parrish will keep pitching coach Jorge Cordova but get two new coaches, both familiar names from their playing days. Former Major League infielder Mariano Duncan takes over Hessman's old spot as hitting coach after spending the last seven years coaching in the Cubs farm system. John Vander Wal, also a former big leaguer, jumps from the scouting ranks into coaching to serve as a third coach for the Whitecaps.

Ace Adams and Rafael Martinez stay on as coaches at Class A Short Season Connecticut under returning manager Gerald Laird.

On the instructor side, the Tigers are keeping most of their staff intact save for a couple changes. Former big league shortstop John Valentin joins the organization as infield coordinator, while Scott Fletcher will serve as a hitting coordinator alongside Bruce Fields.