The York Revolution has hired Paul Fletcher as the team's new pitching coach, it was announced by Manager Mark Mason on Monday.
Fletcher joins returning third-base coach Enohel Polanco on Mason's coaching staff for the 2014 season.
Fletcher replaces John Halama as the Revs' pitching coach. A former major leaguer, Halama did not return after a single season with York. In Halama's lone season on the job in 2013, York posted a 4.32 team ERA, and led the Freedom Division in strikeouts with 935.
Fletcher's pro career began in 1992 when he was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 24th round of the Major League draft, after a college career at the University of Tennessee, where he was an all-Southeastern Conference selection in 1991, breaking school records for wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched. After initially breaking into the pro ranks in the Royals' farm system, the left-hander pitched for Ohio Valley of the Frontier League, earning a contract from there with the Chicago White Sox organization. Fletcher later returned to the Frontier League, where the former starter pitched for the Springfield Capitals as a closer to cap his five-year playing career, before making the transition to pitching coach with that team in 1997.
In three years as pitching coach in Springfield, Fletcher helped guide the Capitals to two league championships while producing future Major League pitchers Jason Simontacchi and Matt Duff. Fletcher also spent one season as manager in Springfield in 2000, winning a first-half title.
Fletcher left pro baseball for a time to open the NorcrossSportsTrainingAcademy in Norcross, Ga. During that time, he also coached travel teams and high school teams. As pitching coach at The Lovett School, Fletcher's teams won two state titles and finished runner-up twice, while producing four area pitchers of the year and one state player of the year, leading the region in team ERA, and sending 32 players to the college level, 22 of which were pitchers.
Fletcher also helped start the Sunbelt Collegiate Wood Bat League in which his teams have won a pair of championships, while producing eight players that went on to be drafted, six of whom were pitchers.
In addition, Fletcher, 44, has continued to maintain strong ties in pro baseball as a part-time scout for the New York Mets, having successfully signed more than 15 players to Major League contracts.
"I'm thrilled to be getting back on the field at the pro level," Fletcher said. "It's something I've wanted to do for a few years now. I've been doing the scouting side of it here in the Atlanta area, but I feel I'm better suited to be on the field. It's a great opportunity, and I'm looking forward to being in York."
Fletcher's background is similar to that of his manager's. Revs skipper Mark Mason also came to York following a successful path through the Frontier League as a pitching coach and manager, as well as becoming a instructor himself.
"Paul is an experienced pitching coach and he's an excellent teacher," Mason said. "He is a great fit for what we need. I'm looking forward to him working with our pitching staff. If I was pitching in York this year, I'd be excited to have the opportunity to work with him. He will be a very positive addition."
Several current Major and Minor League players work out at Fletcher's facility in Georgia, including Jeff Francoeur, Nick Swisher, Jordan Schafer, Alex Wood, Justin Maxwell and Minor League Player of the Year Byron Buxton.
"I want to help our players get that next opportunity and get the most out of it," Fletcher said. "My goal is to make it work for them, as well as for York, and help us win ballgames at the same time."