Revs Coaching Tree Continues to Blossom
For several years now, former teammates of Mark Hendrickson encouraged the 6-foot-9-inch pitcher to get into coaching. Former skipper Buck Showalter was noted as trying to push Hendrickson into the coaching ranks as early as 2012. So the fact that Hendrickson was recently named the pitching coach of the Aberdeen Ironbirds, Low-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, is not surprising. The fact that Hendrickson’s pro career did not begin in baseball, most certainly is.
His career began on the hardwood, after hearing his name called in the same draft as Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and Steve Nash—Hendrickson was chosen by the 76ers in the second round, 31st overall. To illustrate the contrast between the two sports, Hendrickson spent four seasons in the NBA…he was drafted six times by Major League Baseball, finally signing with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997. He made his NBA debut at age 22. After five seasons in the minors, he cracked into the MLB at age 28.
The longevity of his baseball career cannot be matched. In ten MLB season Hendrickson logged over 1,100 innings, pitching for the Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Dodgers, Marlins, and Orioles. As a tall lefty, he was a valuable asset to his teams, but his experience, mentality, and temperament may have made him even more valuable to his teammates, who nicknamed him “Big Smooth.”
Hendrickson came to York in 2014, proving to himself and Revolution fans that he still had fuel left in the tank. He posed a career-low 1.54 ERA in 55 appearances out of the bullpen, earning 9 saves, and striking out 34. He also tossed four perfect innings in the playoffs. Hendrickson has long been a York County resident, giving him the opportunity to pitch at home that season.
Hendrickson’s many years in the game paved the way for his new career.
“The Orioles reached out to me, and with the relationship I have with the organization, it’s something I was curious about, because most of my career was about teaching whether it was kids or fellow players,” Hendrickson told BlogtoBlog. “I was fortunate to experience so much during my career that I believe can translate into coaching and relating to players of all abilities.”
Salvador Paniagua caught Mark Hendrickson in 2014, but his career with the Revs is far more storied. He first played in York in 2011, and after six years in a Revs uniform cemented himself as the longest-tenured position player in franchise history.
He knew he wanted to be a coach when his playing career concluded, as noted in a BlogToBlog 2014 profile, and his coaching dreams came to fruition this offseason when he was named an assistant coach for the Bristol Pirates, Rookie League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Paniagua grew up in the Dominican Republic, playing baseball on rocky, dirt fields. As a teenager he was spotted by a scout for the New York Mets, who recommended that he join a baseball academy in Santo Domingo. The decision paid off for Paniagua who after about a year and a half was plucked up by the Red Sox organization as an international free agent.
Paniagua went on to play five years in the Red Sox organization, his best year coming with High-A Lancaster (CA) in 2013, hitting .286, with 13 home runs, and slugging .542. He blasted a career-high 23 home runs in the United League in 2010, following a two-year stint in the Mets organization.
He then came to York, where he went on to play in 405 games in a Revolution uniform, trailing only Andres Perez on the all-time list. He was named an Atlantic League All-Star in 2013, and was penciled in at catcher on the Revs 10th anniversary team, hitting more home runs (14) and driving in more runs (54) than any other catcher. He also holds the best fielding percentage by a Revs catcher (.993) doing so in both 2014 and 2015. His 2015 season was also highlighted by a walk-off grand-slam to down Bridgeport, September 4.
The duo of Hendrickson and Paniagua join 14 other former Revs to move onto coaching positions, highlighted by Chad Tracy who is the manager of the Inland Empire 66ers, and is assisted by former Revs teammate Michael Wuertz who serves as the pitching coach.
Check back with us next week for a complete roster breakdown and season preview. We will announce the final group of signings on “Revs Hot Stove Weekly presented by Shipley Energy”, Tuesday at 6 PM on SportsRadio 1350 WOYK.