01/16/2019 2:35 PM
CLEBURNE, Texas (Jan. 16, 2019) – The Cleburne Railroaders announced Wednesday the completion of manager Brent Clevlen’s coaching staff with the addition of John Rodriguez as hitting coach and Mike Jeffcoat as pitching coach. All three members of the staff are former Major Leaguers.
“I’m thrilled to have Mike and John on board for this upcoming season,” Clevlen said. “With their combined knowledge and experience at all levels of the game, I’m confident we’re going to work well together and produce a winning ball club.”
Rodriguez spent parts of the 2005 and 2006 seasons at the game’s highest level with the St. Louis Cardinals, helping the Cardinals to a World Series title in 2006. The native of New York, New York retired in 2013 following an 18-year professional career that took him through five Major League organizations, two independent circuits, and leagues in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Mexico. The outfielder notched 1,661 hits, including 245 home runs, and finished his career with a cumulative batting average of .283.
“I’m tremendously honored to put on a Railroaders uniform,” Rodriguez said. “The chance to be reunited with Josh Robertson and Brent while building something new is really exciting for me. I’m ready to form a special bond with the players and bring a championship to Cleburne right away.”
Rodriguez’s final two professional seasons came in the American Association as a member of the Wichita Wingnuts in 2012 and 2013. Over the course of those two years, the left-handed hitter bludgeoned opposing pitchers to the tune of a .335 combined batting average, producing 44 doubles, 35 home runs, and 167 RBI. In 2013, Rodriguez and Clevlen led Wichita to the American Association Championship Series, where they fell to the Gary SouthShore RailCats. Rodriguez was selected as a 2013 American Association All-Star.
Rodriguez had a well-earned reputation as one of the league’s best clutch hitters, posting a .395 average in 13 career American Association playoff games while recording more walks than strikeouts.
The 40-year old Rodriguez is currently the Head of Baseball Operations and the Head Hitting Instructor at the Yorkville Baseball Academy in New York City. He and his wife Evelyn have five children, sons Abie, Isiah, Jay Jay, and daughters Kayla and Madison.
Jeffcoat brings a wealth of experience to the Railroaders as both a player and coach. Originally a 13th round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians out of Louisiana Tech, the native of Pine Bluff, Ark., made his MLB debut in 1983, the first of three seasons he would spend with Cleveland. Jeffcoat was traded to the San Francisco Giants early in the 1985 season, and then later signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent prior to the 1987 campaign. It was with the Rangers that Jeffcoat put together some of his best seasons as a professional, including in 1989, when he went 9-6 with a 3.58 ERA in 22 starts. After six seasons in Texas, Jeffcoat finished out his major league career in 1994 by making four appearances for the Florida Marlins.
Over the course of 15 pro seasons, Jeffcoat produced 110 wins to 85 losses, compiling a 3.98 ERA in more than 1,700 career innings.
“I feel so thankful for this wonderful opportunity,” Jeffcoat said. “I’m incredibly excited to be a part of the organization here in Cleburne and work alongside Brent and these players. I can’t wait to get involved in the community and help put a winning product on the field.”
Jeffcoat comes to Cleburne after 16 seasons as head coach at Texas Wesleyan, where he built the Rams into one of the most consistently successful programs in the NAIA. Jeffcoat inherited a program in 2002 that hadn’t produced a 40-win season in more than 20 years, a mark that the Rams would reach five times under his guidance. With more than 500 career victories, Jeffcoat is the all-time winningest coach in Texas Wesleyan history, including eight appearances in the Regional/NAIA National Championship Opening Round Tournament.
Jeffcoat, 59, resides in Godley with his wife, Elaine. He has a daughter, Haley, and two granddaughters, Olivia and Caroline.
The 3rd season of Railroaders baseball and the club’s pursuit of its first division title kicks off with a four-game home series against the Sioux Falls Canaries, beginning on Thursday, May 16. For information on partnerships, season tickets, group outings, and party packages, call the Railroaders main office at (817) 945-8705, or visit the Railroaders official website at www.railroaderbaseball.com.