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Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tony Franklin, Tommy Phelps to return to Thunder

(Trenton, NJ)- The Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, announced on Thursday that Tony Franklin will be returning to Trenton as Manager for the sixth consecutive season.

Franklin will be joined in the dugout once again by pitching coach and former Major Leaguer Tommy Phelps
who returns for a fourth season. The coaching staff will include new additions,Hitting Coach Tom Slater, Coach Luis Dorante and Athletic Trainer Scott DiFrancesco. Strength and Conditioning Coach Kaz Manabe will return to the Thunder for a second season.

“Tony Franklin is an absolute professional and he’s been a great asset to the Thunder and our community," said Thunder General Manager Will Smith. " I can’t wait to welcome him back to Trenton in 2012. We all hope he can lead the Thunder to our third League championship.”

Franklin guided the Thunder to back-to-back Eastern League Championships in 2007 and 2008 and another Eastern League Championship Series appearance in 2010. Last year's squad did not make the Eastern League playoffs. Franklin owns a career managerial record of 997-906 including a record of 405-323 with Trenton (records include post-season).

The 2008 Eastern League Championship was Franklin’s third title as manager. In 1993, he led South Bend (Single-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) to the Midwest League Championship. Prior to his time in Trenton, Franklin spent most of the last 11 years as the Minor League Infield Instructor for the San Diego Padres. His managerial career began with the White Sox organization as the manager for Geneva (NY) of the New York-Penn League in 1982.

Franklin spent four seasons in Geneva, making the playoffs in 1985. After one season with Wytheville (Appalachian League), he guided the White Sox affiliate in the Florida State League, the Sarasota White Sox, to a playoff appearance in 1989. Franklin spent two years as the skipper of the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League, including 81 wins in 1991 and a berth in the Championship Series.

He and his wife, Haiba, have three children Derrick, Wayne and Shelby.

Tommy Phelps will return for his fourth season as the pitching coach for the Thunder. Phelps pitched for the Florida Marlins in 2003 and 2004 including a 2003 season in which he went 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 27 games (seven starts). He was part of a Marlins team that won the World Series over the Yankees. Phelps pitched in 29 games for Milwaukee in 2005 and went 7-4 with a 4.45 ERA in 2006 with Columbus (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees). Phelps was originally an eighth round pick by Montreal in the 1992 draft.

Hitting Coach Tom Slater has been a Manager in the Yankees organization for the past three seasons. Last year, he led Staten Island to a 45-28 record and the New York-Penn League championship. He managed the Gulf Coast League Yankees the previous two seasons. Prior to joining the Yankees, he served as Head Coach at Auburn University, going 115-113 and seeing 15 players drafted by Major League clubs over the four year span. His previous coaching experience includes a stint as assistant coach at Florida (2004), three years as the head coach at Virginia Military Institute (2001-03) and assistant coach positions at St. Christopher's School in Richmond, VA and Marshall University.

Coach Luis Dorante spent the last four years in the Pirates organization, serving as the Latin American Field Coordinator in 2011. From 2008-2010, he was the Pirates Bullpen Coach, having joined the Major League staff on November 20, 2007. He served the Florida Marlins in the same capacity during the 2005 campaign.

Dorante’s managerial career began with the Montreal Expos in the Gulf Coast League in 1995. The former Harrisburg Senators skipper returns to the Eastern League for the first time since the 2001 season. In 11 seasons as a minor league manager, Dorante led his team to the playoffs four times and compiled a record of 671-696. Primarily a catcher during his playing days, Luis also made appearances at first base, third base and in the outfield during his six-year minor league career.

Athletic Trainer Scott DiFrancesco has been in the Yankees organization for five years after spending last year with Tampa, the previous three with Charleston and a 2006 internship at the Yankees complex in Tampa, FL. He has a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Ball State University.

Kaz Manabe returns to the Thunder as the Strength and Conditioning Coach. He had spent the previous two season with Charleston. A native of Japan, Manabe graduated from Hiroshima University and earned his Master degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Northridge.

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