Yakima Valley Community College pitching coach Tyler VonDracek has been hired to take the same role with the Wenatchee AppleSox, head coach Kyle Krustangel announced on Tuesday.
VonDracek previously coached in the West Coast League with the Cowlitz Black Bears last summer.
Additionally, Krustangel announced that former AppleSox player Jacob Prater will return to the team in 2019 as a volunteer assistant coach. Prater will assist both offensive and defensive strategy, Krustangel said.
VonDracek, like the AppleSox other assistant coach, Cash Ulrich, has spent the last four seasons on Krustangel’s Yakima Valley coaching staff. The trio hopes to replicate some of the recent success that they’ve had with the Yaks over the last few years with the AppleSox in 2019 and beyond.
“I have worked with Tyler for four years and he is a very knowledgeable, hard-working coach,” Krustangel said. “He is as loyal as they come and is a huge addition to the AppleSox. I expect him to have an immediate impact with our pitchers.”
After coaching alongside Krustangel and Ulrich for the duration of the Yaks’ 2019 season, VonDracek will join his fellow coaches in Wenatchee in late-May.
Since joining Yakima Valley College in 2016, VonDracek has been an instrumental part of the teams’ recent success. In his three years as an assistant pitching coach there, the team has posted a 3.09 ERA and won the NWAC in his first season. In 2019, he will move up to be the primary pitching coach.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to grow and learn this summer with an organization that has a fantastic reputation,” VonDracek said. “I can’t wait to go to work with a new crop of ballplayers from all around the country. Establishing new relationships with players and coaches within the team really excites me for the summer.”
VonDracek played at Yakima Valley College for two seasons (2011-13) and was a two-year starter. He went on to play at Whitworth University for his remaining two years. In his senior year, Whitworth won the NWC tournament and went to the NCAA Regional in Texas for only the second time in school history. VonDracek graduated from Whitworth with a degree in Kinesiology.
In the summer of 2015, VonDracek was the pitching coach of the Spokane Bandits AAA Senior American Legion team that was head coached by Krustangel. The team was 27 games over .500 and finished 3rd in the Washington State Tournament.
VonDracek played high school baseball for RA Long High School and was a two-time letter winner and All-GSHL in Longview, WA.
Prater has just begun his senior season at Seattle University and is pursuing a coaching career following his collegiate tenure. Through seven games, Prater is hitting .357 and is tied for second on the team with two stolen bases. He’s batted second and played second in all seven of the Redhawks games. Prater has reached base safely in all but one game and five consecutive.
The Wenatchee High School graduate played for the AppleSox in 2015, 2017 and 2018, and played every position except for center field, pitcher and catcher in that time. The utilityman hit a combined .289 in his AppleSox tenure, including a team-high .359 in 2017. Last year, Prater won the inaugural Tommy Watanabe Award, given to the player who best exemplifies our late former player’s passion for the game of baseball.
Fans will get an opportunity to meet VonDracek at next Monday’s AppleSox Hot Stove Party from 5:30-7 p.m. at Abby’s Legendary Pizza. RSVP today by calling 509-665-6900 or emailing email@example.com.