York completes coaching staff, signs returning slugger
(February 7, 2023, York, Pa.) — The York Revolution has finalized its coaching staff while re-signing a top run producer to its lineup to kick off the 2023 preseason signings. Former Revs lefty Joe Harris returns to the organization as pitching coach, while veteran coach Derek Wolfe joins the staff as hitting coach. Star first baseman Nellie Rodriguez is the first player signing for the upcoming season in a series of moves announced by Revs manager Rick Forney live on Monday’s season premiere of Revs Hot Stove Weekly presented by Shipley Energy on SportsRadio 98.9 FM & 1350 WOYK.
Harris takes over the pitching staff of his hometown team, returning to the organization with whom he spent parts of the 2014 and 2015 seasons pitching out of the Revs bullpen. Originally from Douglassville, PA, Harris relocated to York County during his playing days and has built his coaching resume in the years since.
The lefty began his pro career in the American Association with the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, regularly competing against Forney’s Winnipeg squads. Harris combined to go 18-13 with a 2.41 ERA in his first four seasons in Fargo, prompting a late-season acquisition by the Revs during their 2014 playoff run. Harris spent the bulk of the 2015 season with the Revs before returning to Fargo and shortly thereafter turned his attention toward a coaching career. Having spent several years doing lessons and leading travel programs, Harris has most recently spent the past two years coaching at his alma mater, Division II Wilmington University, helping guide the Wildcats to a conference title with the tenth-ranked pitching staff in the nation.
“He’s a perfect fit,” remarked Forney. “He’s super hungry. He loves the game, and he’s very passionate about it. The energy is infectious. He’s ready to work, and that’s what we want. He wants to work, plus he’s a hometown guy. We couldn’t possibly find a better fit. I’m thrilled to have him with us, and I think he’s going to do a fantastic job.”
Harris last appeared on the mound in 2021 after a six-year hiatus, making an eight-appearance cameo with the Charleston Dirty Birds. As a starter, he threw the first professional pitch from Major League Baseball’s experimental mound distance of 61’6” on August 3, 2021, and two weeks earlier took a shutout into the fifth in a start against the Revs at PeoplesBank Park. Over the course of his six-year career, Harris went 20-18 with a 3.36 ERA in 202 appearances. He becomes the first full-time pitching coach on staff for the Revs since 2019.
Wolfe brings a lifetime of baseball coaching experience to Forney’s staff, having also competed against Forney’s Winnipeg clubs the past four years in the American Association. Wolfe spent the past three years with Sioux City, where he was hitting coach for two years after one season as bench coach. His first season in the Association was spent as third base coach with Gary SouthShore in 2018. The Florida native continues to spend his spring seasons as hitting coach at Seminole State (FL) College, a top D1 Junior College program.
Wolfe has held a wide range of roles at numerous levels in the game. He has been a college head coach, beginning his career at Hiwassee (TN) College in 1995. He spent six years as a Division I assistant at the University of Central Florida, while spending summers leading teams in the Florida Collegiate Summer League. The Florida native has also spent several years guiding successful prep and high school teams and operates his own training and mentor business for athletes, Wolfe’s PATH.
“Derek is a tireless worker, very good communicator, super nice guy,” commented Forney. “All the players I’ve talked to that had been with him said the same thing, that they really enjoyed being with Derek and the preparation before games with him. He really blends well to everyone’s needs and is always available. He’s very much into analytics and I think has a lot to offer these guys. I’m thrilled to bring him to our staff.”
Rodriguez returns to York for his third season, having already cemented himself as one of the top power-hitters in franchise history. He’ll enter the 2023 season tied for sixth in Revs history with 51 home runs, while ranking fifth in slugging (.531), third in walks (177), and first in on-base percentage (.427). Rodriguez ranked fifth in the league with 26 long balls last season (fourth-most in Revs history) while setting a new league record with an incredible 108 walks. He also earned a spot on the league’s Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team as the top first baseman, with a club record .994 fielding percentage.
“He’s a really good run producer, and every good offensive team needs one,” said Forney. “Nellie’s that guy. He represents the organization really well, and when we’re building this roster, we want to make sure we’re building it not just with good players but also with good people. For me that’s super important. He’s had nothing but great things to say about York. He loves it here, loves the fanbase and the front office. He’s very much looking forward to coming back, and we’re thrilled to have him.”
Rodriguez was an Atlantic League All-Star and the team’s Player of the Year during his first season in York in 2021, batting .316 with 25 home runs and 81 RBI. He ranked sixth in the league in home runs and finished in the top 10 in RBI despite spending a month away while playing in the Mexican League. He is now one of two players in Revs history to post multiple 25-homer seasons, joining Chris Nowak, who did it in 2011-12.
The 28-year-old spent his first eight seasons in the Cleveland organization, where he was a top run producer, reaching Triple-A Columbus in 2017 and 2018. Rodriguez was the Carolina League MVP in 2015, pacing that circuit with 17 home runs a year after slamming 22 bombs for Lake County, tying for the Midwest League lead. At the Double-A level, Rodriguez was an Eastern League All-Star for Akron in 2016. A 15th-round draft choice in 2012 out of George Washington High School in New York City, Rodriguez played for 16U and 18U USA National teams during his prep days. He enters the 2023 season with 197 home runs in his pro career.
Forney is scheduled to announce more player signings on the next episode of Revs Hot Stove Weekly presented by Shipley Energy on Monday, February 13, at 6 p.m. live on SportsRadio 98.9 FM & 1350 WOYK, 989woyk.com, and The New WOYK app.
About the York Revolution: The York Revolution Professional Baseball Club is a member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The Revolution was Atlantic League Champions in 2010, 2011, and 2017. The 2023 season is the team’s 16th. Located at 5 Brooks Robinson Way, PeoplesBank Park hosts all Revolution home games, in addition to myriad events through the entire calendar year. For tickets or more information, please call 717-801-HITS (4487) or visit the Revolution online at www.YorkRevolution.com.
About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB): Celebrating its 25th Anniversary season in 2023, the Atlantic League is Major League Baseball’s first Professional Partner League, a player gateway to the major leagues, and a leader in baseball innovation. ALPB has sent more than 1,200 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 45 million fans to its family-friendly ballparks throughout its 25-year history. Please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.
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