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Hickory Crawdads Coaching Staff Announced by the Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers announced the 2024 Crawdads coaching staff, with most of the staff that led the ‘Dads to the best winning percentage in the South Atlantic League returning.

Chad Comer will once again lead the team, with Drew Sannes serving as Hitting Coach, and Jay Sullenger and Justin Jacobs returning as bench coaches. Julio Valdez will be the new Pitching Coach, Alex Silcott is the Athletic Trainer, and rounding out the staff is Bryce Gist as the Strength and Conditioning Coach.

Comer is back for his second season managing the Crawdads. He served as the ‘Dads infield coach for the 2015 championship season and returned to be the team’s hitting coach in 2021. From 2016-18, he was a hitting coach for the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League before heading to their complex in Arizona to occupy a similar role. He then left the organization to serve as an assistant coach with University of Texas at Arlington in August 2019. He was a developmental coach for the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders in 2022. Comer, a catcher, was drafted by the Braves in 2011 and played two seasons in their system.

Julio Valdez comes to Hickory after serving as the Pitching Coach for the Low-A Down East Wood Ducks in 2023. He had previously worked in the same role for the Arizona Complex League Rangers (2022) and the Dominican Summer League Rangers (2020-2021). Valdez started his coaching career with his alma mater, Alabama State, in 2017 before becoming the Director of Pitching at the Texas Pitching Institute in El Paso. He spent two years at TPI before taking the same role at Baseball Rebellion in Durham, his final stop before joining the Rangers organization.

Sannes joined the Texas organization in 2022 to be a developmental coach for the Arizona League Rangers, his first professional coaching assignment. He came to the Rangers after serving as the head coach at North Iowa Area Community College in 2021. He originally joined that program as an assistant coach in 2019 and was promoted to interim head coach at age 24 in 2020 before his interim tag was removed for 2021. Sannes played two years of baseball as an infielder at the University of North Dakota (2015-16) and Concordia University, St. Paul (2018-19), transferring from North Dakota after the school’s baseball program was cut.

Sullenger enters his fifth season with the Texas organization and third as a coach for the Crawdads. He was originally slated to serve as a coach for the ‘Dads in 2020 but with the season’s cancellation he coached in the Fall Developmental League. In 2021, he managed the Arizona Rangers before joining the Hickory staff for the 2022 season. Prior to joining the organization, he headed up the Biola University (a NCAA Division II school in La Mirada, CA) baseball program for six seasons. He attended Liberty University, reaching the NCAA regional finals three times as a member of their baseball team. Following college, he spent a year with the Tampa Bay Rays working with their facility and event management department. He then joined the coaching staff at James Madison University, spending eleven seasons in various coaching roles.

Jacobs will be another familiar face in Hickory after playing for the team in 2018 and serving as a bench coach last season. In 2021, he was a member of the coaching staff for the Rookie-level Arizona League Rangers and the Fall Instructional League staff. Jacobs made his full-season coaching debut in 2022 as a developmental coach for the Class-A Down East Wood Ducks. He also spent a season as an assistant coach at George Washington University (2020-21) and another as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, Gonzaga University (2019-20). He got his first coaching experience during the 2018-19 college baseball season as an assistant at Spokane (Wash.) Falls Community College.

Alex Silcott comes to Hickory after spending the last two years as a rehab athletic trainer for the Rangers. He spent the 2021 season as the athletic trainer for the AZL Rangers. Silcott joined the Rangers following two seasons as an athletic trainer for the Orem Owlz, a former Rookie-level affiliate of the Angels. He also spent a season as a trainer for the GCL Orioles and completed internships with the Angels and FC Kansas City of the National Women’s Soccer League.

Bryce Gist will take over as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the ‘Dads. He comes over to the Rangers organization from Clemson, where he served as a Strength and Conditioning graduate assistant from August 2022 through the end of 2023.

The Crawdads will open their home season on Tuesday, April 9th.