Former Nogales High School and Arizona infielder Rafael Valenzuela recently began his third season as a manager in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system, his second leading the organization’s rookie team in the Gulf Coast League.
He managed Tampa Bay’s GCL team in 2019 and was slated to manage the Rays’ short-season Class-A affiliate in Fishkill, N.Y., last season but COVID-19 canceled the season.
Valenzuela, who played primarily second base for Arizona coach Andy Lopez from 2008-10, graduated from Nogales in 2006 and opted to play his freshman season at Cochise College in 2007 despite being drafted out of high school by the Kansas City Royals.
Valenzuela, 33, signed with the Houston Astros as a free agent after his Arizona career concluded. He played four seasons at first and third base in the Houston organization, reaching the Double-A level in 2013 before finishing his playing career with a .283 batting average, 13 home runs and 81 RBI in 165 total games.
— Marcel Ali Renteria (@AliMarcel2) June 25, 2021
He is one of 10 former players who are active head coaches or managers, five of whom are affiliated with professional baseball. The other four are Terry Francona (Cleveland Indians manager), Casey Candaele (Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A manager), Clark Crist (Pulaski, Va., River Turtles manager of the Appalachian League) and Jack Howell (Anaheim Angels Class-A manager).
FORMER ARIZONA ATHLETES WHO ARE HEAD COACHESList of head coaches of various sports and different levels who competed at Arizona. *-Denotes did not finish career at Arizona. Compiled by AllSportsTucson.com.
|Candace Abrams||2000-04||Clarendon (Texas) JC||Softball||2020|
|Amy Baray-Rocha||1999||Salpointe Catholic HS||Softball||2015|
|Adia Barnes||1995-99||Arizona||Women's hoops||2016|
|Marcus Bell||1996-99||Eagar Round Valley HS||Football||2011|
|Heidi Bomberger-Bruschi||1993-97||Attleboro (MA) Feehan HS||Volleyball||2020|
|Matt Brase||2003-05||Haiti National Team||Men's hoops||2017|
|Robert Bonillas||1995-98||Desert View HS||Football||2012|
|Tod Brown||1990-94||New Mexico||Baseball||2022|
|Casey Candaele||1980-82||Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A||Baseball||2021|
|Jackie Coburn||2002-05||Scottsdale Horizon HS||Softball||2013|
|Troy Cooke||1982-84||Show Low HS||Boys hoops||2020|
|Clark Crist||1977-80||Pulaski (VA) River Turtles||Baseball||2021|
|Jay Dobyns||1982-84||Tanque Verde HS||Football||2020|
|Britt Echols*||2001||Sahuaro HS||Baseball||2020|
|Byron Evans||1983-86||South Mountain HS||Football||2020|
|Terry Francona||1977-80||Cleveland Indians||MLB||2013|
|Tanya Farhat-Villarreal||1994-97||West Bend (WI) Slinger HS||Softball||2015|
|Brenda Frese||1989-93||Maryland||Women's hoops||2002|
|Jason Hisey||1988-91||Canyon del Oro HS||Baseball||2019|
|Jack Howell||1983||Anaheim Angels Single-A||Baseball||2021|
|Krista Humphreys||1993-96||Corona (CA) Centennial HS||Softball||2015|
|Stacey Iveson||1986-89||Israel National Team||Softball||2019|
|Mark Keel||1979-82||Silverdale (WA) Central Kitsap HS||Football||2000|
|Steve Kerr||1983-88||Golden State Warriors||NBA||2014|
|Michael Klyce||2004-08||Los Angeles Locke HS||Football||2017|
|David Landrith||1980-83||Pusch Ridge HS||Baseball||2019|
|Andy Litten||1999-03||Scottsdale Horizon HS||Football||2021|
|Hunter Long||2013-15||Douglas HS||Football||2019|
|Michael Lopez||2009-12||Big Spring (TX) Howard JC||Baseball||2020|
|Paige Maggio||2013-16||Mountain View HS||Girls soccer||2018|
|Brandon Manumaleuna||1997-00||Lawndale (CA) Leuzinger HS||Football||2020|
|Jennifer Martinez||2008-09||Abraham Baldwin (GA) JC||Softball||2017|
|Scott McKee||1999-02||Sahuaro HS||Football||2009|
|Craig McMillan||1984-88||Santa Rosa (CA) JC||Men's hoops||2000|
|Richard Mercado||2002-04||Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei HS||Baseball||2019|
|Leighton Milton||1992-93||Hollywood (CA) HS||Football||2020|
|Edwin Mulitalo||1995-98||Southern Virginia||Football||2018|
|Ronnie Palmer||2005-08||Monterrey Peninsula (CA) JC||Football||2020|
|Josh Pastner||1996-00||Georgia Tech||Men's hoops||2016|
|Jose Portilla||1996-97||Heritage Academy||Football||2017|
|Jody Pruitt||1990-93||Peoria Sunrise Mountain HS||Softball||2011|
|Rebekah Quiroz||2002||Pima CC||Softball||2019|
|Danielle Steinberg||2005-09||Colorado||Women's tennis||2018|
|Gina Snyder||2018-19||Manatee (FL) Squeeze||Softball||2020|
|Jason Stewart||1997-99||Encinitas (CA) San Dieguito HS||Boys hoops||2014|
|Damon Stoudamire||1992-95||Pacific||Men's hoops||2016|
|Rafael Valenzuela||2008-10||Tampa Bay Rays Rookie League||Baseball||2019|
|Luke Walton||1999-03||Sacramento Kings||NBA||2019|
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.