Manager Mark Budzinski, pitching coach Rigo Beltran and athletic trainer Bobby Ruiz will all return to Lynchburg in the same role for the 2016 season. They will be joined by hitting coach Larry Day and strength and conditioning coach Juan Acevedo, as announced by the Cleveland Indians organization Monday.
Budzinski led the Hillcats to a 72-68 record last season, which topped the Northern Division overall standings and marked the most wins for Lynchburg since 2012. Toward the end of the season, the Hillcats caught fire with a 27-10 record from July 21 toAugust 29 to surge into a playoff spot before dropping the Northern Division Championship Series to Wilmington.
Budzinski has seen both minor league teams that he has managed make the playoffs. In 2014, Budzinski guided the Class-A Lake County Captains to the Midwest League Championship Series in his first season as a minor league skipper. Budzinski’s squad also finished strong that year, posting a 38-31 record in the second half of the regular season to secure a postseason berth. The team then swept South Bend and Fort Wayne in the first two rounds of the playoffs to advance to the Championship Series before falling to the Kane County Cougars in three games.
After playing at the University of Richmond, Cleveland selected Budzinski in the 21st round of the 1995 draft. Budzinski played professionally for 11 seasons, and he spent the 1997 campaign in the Carolina League as an outfielder for the Kinston Indians. After spending time in the Indians, Cubs and Brewers systems, Budzinski made his Major League debut with the Cincinnati Reds on August 3, 2003. He appeared in four games before returning to Triple-A.
Beltran joined the Hillcats midseason last year after Tony Arnold became the pitching coach for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. Beltran helped the pitching staff register a league-best 2.57 ERA in the month of August, which included an incredible 28 consecutive scoreless innings notched by Hillcats relievers. Lynchburg pitchers struck out 184 batters in August while only walking 73. A 26th-round draft pick in 1991,
Beltran pitched in the Major Leagues between 1997 and 2004 for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Montreal Expos. Beltran is entering his third season as a coach in the Indians system after seven years as a coach for the Cincinnati Reds’ farm teams. Beltran also coached in Lynchburg in 2010 for the lone season the Hillcats were affiliated with the Reds.
Larry Day will serve as the Lynchburg hitting coach for 2016 after holding the same position for the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers last season. Prior to that, Day served as an assistant coach at Ohio University in 2014 as well as an assistant at Vanderbilt from 2009 to 2013.
Following his career at the University of Connecticut in which he earned All-Big East catcher in 2007, the New York Yankees drafted Day in the 50th round. Day played two years in the Yankees system, making it to the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs before moving into coaching.
Ruiz enters his sixth season in the Indians system and his third at the Advanced-A level after serving as the athletic trainer for the Carolina Mudcats in 2014 before the affiliate moved to Lynchburg.
Lynchburg opens the 2016 season at home against Winston-Salem Thursday, April 7, at 6:30 p.m. Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 434-528-1144 or by stopping by the Front Office Monday-Friday 9am–5pm.