For the City Times
Following a season in which the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters set a new franchise record for wins in a season, general manager John Fanta is excited to announce the coaching staff that will join returning Field Manager Craig Noto in the dugout for the 2016 season.
Pitching Coach John Halama will be returning for his 2nd season and will be joined in the dugout by newcomers Kirk Shrider and Devin DeYoung.
“It’s a convenience to have experienced and dynamic coaches leading the way and I’m very pleased with the staff that we’ve assembled for 2016,” said Fanta. “John Halama brings a big-league resume to impart knowledge to our pitchers, and Kirk Shrider and Devin DeYoung both come from scouting and player development backgrounds that will be invaluable resources for all of our incoming players as they embark on the Northwoods League season.”
John Halama will enter his second season as the Rafters pitching coach this summer and brings a wealth of knowledge to share with the Rafters hurlers. Under his direction last summer, Jake Johansmeier (Eastern Illinois) set the new single season record for wins in a season, with seven. He also helped Jack Riley earn league recognition as he was named to the South Division All-Star Team. Halama was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 23rd round of the 1994 MLB Draft and made his major league debut with the Astros in 1998. During his major league career, the left-handed Halama spent time with the Astros (1998), Seattle Mariners (1999-2002), Oakland Athletics (2003), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2004), Boston Red Sox (2005), Washington Nationals (2005), and Baltimore Orioles (2006). In his career he amassed 911 innings pitched, struck out 492 and posted a 56-48 record with a 4.65 ERA. Following his big league playing career he spent five seasons playing independent professional baseball.
In midseason 1998, Halama was sent to the Seattle Mariners along with Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillen in the trade that brought Hall of Famer Randy Johnson to Houston. Halama won 41 games for the Mariners in a four-year span, including a career-high 14 victories during the 2000 season. Halama was also a member of the 2001 Mariners team that finished the season with a 116-46 record.
Prior to his big league career Halama attended St. Francis College and played at Bishop Ford High School in New York. He is a native of Brooklyn, New York.
Noto on Halama: “We’re blessed to have a guy of John’s caliber back for another year in Wisconsin Rapids. John did an incredible job in helping our pitchers grow last summer and I’m excited to have him back to lead and develop our staff in 2016. There is a lot of young talent coming in and they couldn’t be in better hands than with John. ”
Kirk Shrider begins his first season with the Rafters after finishing his first year as an assistant coach at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. Shrider is no stranger to summer collegiate baseball as he has previously worked with the Southern California Outlaws of the Western Baseball Association and in the Gold Coast Collegiate League (Florida). Prior to entering the collegiate coaching ranks Shrider spent eight years as a high school baseball coach (Bellflower High School 2005-2008, and Mayfair High School 2001-2005). Shrider also spent a number of years working as a professional baseball scout, including three years for the Milwaukee Brewers (1993-1995).
Noto on Shrider: “When you talk about a baseball lifer with a great resume, Kirk epitomizes it. His 25+ years of MLB scouting and coaching experience is a huge addition for us. His knowledge of hitting and infield play are outstanding and our players are in for a great summer under his guidance. His dedication to player development and overall knowledge of the game are great assets for this team.”
Devin DeYoung will begin his first season as an assistant coach with the Rafters as well. In 2015, he began his coaching career with the Rockland Boulders in the Can-Am League under manager Jamie Keefe. Devin is a native of Harvey, Illinois and played his collegiately at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois where he was a Region Four All-Star. In 2011, he transferred to the three-time NAIA World Series Champion Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. After college he began his coaching career with the Rockland Boulders.
During the 2015 season the Boulders broke many offensive records on their path to becoming Can-Am League Champions. Devin has also spent time working under Assistant General Manager, Bill Bryk, of the Arizona Diamondbacks, scouting amateur and professional players.
Devin, who makes his home Saint John, Indiana with his wife Samantha and daughter Ella, continues to work with many amateur, collegiate, and professional players on mechanics and the mental side of the game.
Noto on DeYoung: “Devin is an energetic, dedicated and knowledgeable young coach who had an opportunity to learn under a good friend of mine, former Major League pitcher Bobby Jones, last summer in the Can Am League as a bullpen coach. His background as a professional player and coach along with his desire to want to help young men further themselves through the game, make him a great addition to this organization. Devin will work with the catchers and outfielders on a day to day basis as well as assist Kirk with the hitters.”