WENATCHEE — When it came to filling the Wenatchee AppleSox’ pitching coach position, manager Ed Knaggs decided to keep it the family.
Knaggs and the AppleSox have tapped A.J. Proszek, a West Coast League alum and current Community Colleges of Spokane pitching coach, to replace longtime Sox pitching coach Rob Hippi, who retired after the Sox’ 2012 WCL championship campaign.
Like former Gonzaga assistant coach Knaggs and countless other AppleSox alumni and former coaches, Proszek has ties to the Zags — he played for the Spokane-based university in 2008 and 2009.
“He was a Gonzaga kid so I’ve known him for a long time,” Knaggs said. “Initially we were looking for another coach Hippi — a guy with a bunch of experience — but coach Proszek was always in the back of my mind. … He played for the (former WCL team) Spokane Riverhawks, so we played against him. Finally one day it just kinda hit me.”
Proszek, 25, is a native of Chewelah and was a 38th-round pick by the San Francisco Giants in 2009. He spent three seasons as a Giants farmhand, reaching the High A minor-league level.
“There’s some inexperience, but spinning in a positive light, being young he’s going to relate to these players, and he just finished playing pro ball which all of these guys want to do,” Knaggs said. “And he’s not long out of the college scene these guys are in. He seems to have a really good rapport with his pitchers. I’m excited we’re able to give him the opportunity. It’s neat to keep it in the Zags family.”
The five-time WCL champion AppleSox will start the 2013 season in June.