The Fresno Grizzlies will have a new manager this season. In 2019, they may have a new major-league affiliate.
Rodney Linares, seen as a rising star in the Houston Astros organization, will assume the Grizzlies’ managerial reins after spending the last three seasons leading Double-A Corpus Christi, a source with knowledge of the situation said. A formal announcement is expected later this week.
Linares replaces Tony DeFrancesco, who compiled a 234-194 (.547) record during three seasons in Fresno highlighted by the 2015 Pacific Coast League title and Triple-A National Championship. DeFrancesco departed the Astros organization last September and has reportedly been hired by the New York Mets to manage Triple-A Las Vegas.
The 40-year-old Linares has spent 11 seasons as a minor-league manager, advancing from short-season rookie league to Double-A. He won two California League championships with the Lancaster JetHawks (2012 and ’14) and was named Texas League manager of the year in 2015.
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A native of Brooklyn, New York, Linares is currently managing Gigantes del Cibao of the Dominican Winter League. He is believed to be the first Spanish-speaking manager in the Grizzlies’ 21-year history.
The 2018 season also marks the fourth and final year of the Grizzlies’ player development contract with the Astros. With San Antonio joining the PCL in 2019, replacing the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, many baseball observers expect the Astros to shift their Triple-A affiliate to Texas.
The Grizzlies are also expected to be under new ownership this season. However, the deal has yet to be finalized.