Blake Lalli to Become Aces Manager for 2021 Season
RENO, Nev. - The 2021 Reno Aces coaching staff was announced today, with former Aces catcher Blake Lalli set to lead to the team in 2021. Lalli becomes the youngest-ever Aces manager, and the first to have played for Reno.
"Our fans know Blake as fierce competitor on the field whose leadership brought the Aces one win from a championship in 2014," said Aces president Eric Edelstein. "We welcome him and his coaches back as the next big step in playing professional baseball again in downtown Reno."
Lalli is the fifth manager in franchise history, coming after Chris Cron, Greg Gross, Phil Nevin and Brett Butler. The Pittsburgh native is the youngest manager in Aces history, and the first to have played for the Aces.
"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to manage the Reno Aces in 2021," said Lalli. "Reno is a city that I have great memories of, from being there as a player. I am so excited to get ack to Greater Nevada Field and get to work."
The 2021 staff will include pitching coach Jeff Bajenaru, returning to Reno after spending the 2019 season with the Aces. Newcomers to the staff include hitting coach Rick Short, extra coach Jorge Cortes and strength and conditioning coach Derek Somerville. Trainer Michael Powell will return as well, having been with the team in 2019.
Blake Lalli - Manager
Lalli is entering the third season (fourth year) of a fast-moving managerial career through the Diamondbacks' organization, opening the regular season at just 37 years old. In 2018, Lalli's Kane County Cougars went 72-66 in his first year as a manager.
In 2019, Lalli managed the Double-A Jackson Generals to a Southern League championship, after a wild card berth from a 78-57 regular-season record. While in Jackson, Lalli the former catcher coached championship series MVP Daulton Varsho, a catcher that made 37 big-league appearances with the Diamondbacks in 2020. With Jackson, Varsho hit .301 along with 18 homers and 58 RBI. Last month, Varsho was listed as one of Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects.
As a player, Lalli time with nine minor league teams in his 12-year career, including MLB stints with the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves. In his big league career, Lalli appeared in 32 games, racking up seven hits and five RBI.
From 2014 to 2015, Lalli appeared in 174 games for the Aces, batting .275 in 2014 and .260 in 2015. The Gardner-Webb product smacked six home runs and 59 RBI in his two years calling Greater Nevada Field home.
Jeff Bajenaru - Pitching Coach
Bajenaru returns for his second full season as the Aces' pitching coach, and 11th year in the Diamondbacks organization. In 2017 and 2018 with the Visalia Rawhide, Bajenaru was named California League Coach of the Year. As a player Bajenaru appeared in 14 big-league games over three seasons, winning a World Series ring with the Chicago White Sox in 2005.
Rick Short - Hitting Coach
Short enters his first season as the Aces' pitching coach, and 12th in the Arizona system. Short has been with Lalli since 2018, serving as hitting coach for the Kane County Cougars before the Jackson Generals in 2019. With Short at the helm in Jackson, the team led the league in home runs with 128 and finished third in OPS with .713. As a player, Short hit .319 in 1,163 MiLB games.
Jorge Cortes - Extra Coach
Like Short, Cortes comes to Reno after coaching under Lalli since 2018. Cortes has been in the Diamondbacks organization for six years. As a player, Cortes played for 16 seasons both in the US and internationally.
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