Rafters Announce 2015 Coaching Staff
Nine-Year Major League Veteran John Halama Named Pitching Coach
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are excited to announce the 2015 coaching staff that will join field manager Craig Noto in the dugout this summer. Former big league left-handed pitcher John Halama will be joined by newcomer Jesse Marsh (Marist University) and returner Brandon Hohl (Lewis University) on the coaching staff this summer.
“Both John Fanta (GM) and I have put a lot of time and effort into assembling our staff for the upcoming season,” said field manager Craig Noto. “A few important things we wanted to address with developing the staff were experience, professionalism, organization, personality, and knowledge. I believe we have achieved those with this group. As a staff we are looking forward to getting to work with this group and winning the daily battles needed to be a good team.”
John Halama will begin his first season as the Rafters pitching coach this summer and will bring a wealth of knowledge to share with the Rafters hurlers. 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: “John Halama’s resume speaks for itself. John’s eight plus years at the MLB level in various roles is a great resource for our pitchers to come into and further develop. He is a great person who has a wealth of experiences to share with our ball club as a whole, not just the pitchers. He’s humble, caring, intelligent and most of all hard-working. John will challenge our pitchers physically and mentally to better them every day.”
Marsh will begin his first season with the Rafters but is very familiar with Rafters field manager Craig Noto, as he spent two seasons with him while at LIU Brooklyn. Marsh is in his second season with the Marist University baseball program. In his current post, Marsh handles the day to day operations of the defense and assists with hitting for the Red Fox. He also works extensively in recruiting, camps, and clinics.
Prior to his current post at Marist and two year stint at LIU Brooklyn, Marsh was an assistant at his alma mater SUNY New Paltz for three years. At New Paltz, Marsh was the lead assistant in charge of recruiting, hitting, and the infielders. As a player, Marsh competed at New Paltz from 2007-2008, serving as team captain during his senior year. He ranks second all-time in single-season assists and started in all 40 games his senior year. Prior to New Paltz, Marsh played for two years at Dutchess Community College. He is a native of Marlboro, New York.
Noto on Marsh: “Coach Marsh is a self-starter who is highly organized and knowledgeable in all aspects of the game. His level of professionalism as a young coach is a huge asset for us and he will spearhead the day to day on-field progress of our position players.”
Brandon Hohl is back for a second season as an assistant coach after joining the Rafters mid-season a year ago. Hohl will again work with the hitters and will coach first base. Hohl, who has seen his career with the Rafters evolve from a player to coach, will return for his fourth season overall in Wisconsin Rapids.
Hohl joined the Lewis University baseball coaching staff as a volunteer assistant in the fall of 2014 where he oversees the day-to-day activities of the infielders and assists with the hitters. Last summer he played for the Windy City Thunderbolts of the Frontier League before joining the Rafters mid-season.
As a player, Hohl attended the University of Illinois from 2010 to 2013 where he was a four year starter at third base and spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons at the hot corner for the Rafters. While with the Rafters he set the career doubles and walks records (since broken) and started in over 130 games for the team. He still holds the team record for most games played in a season, when he appeared in all 70 contests in 2012 and won the Rawlings Gold Glove award the same year. Hohl earned his degree in communications from Illinois and is originally from Mokena, Illinois.
Noto on Hohl: “Brandon has both the background as a player and coach in the Northwoods League to help our players adapt to the rigors of the schedule. It’s a huge benefit for our players in terms of speaking with someone who has been through the grind of a Northwoods League season. On top of that he has a great feel for teaching the game and I have high expectations for him in helping to support Jesse every day.”
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2015, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (BOS) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com.