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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter


Phillies Press Release :


Lester Straker, the Dominican Summer League Phillies White pitching coach, has been selected as the 2023 recipient of the John Vukovich Award, the club announced today.


            The 63-year-old Straker joined the Phillies organization in 2004 and has been on the DSL Phillies staff since 2016. This season, the DSL Phillies White pitching staff went 42-13 with a 2.71 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 483 strikeouts, 198 walks and 14 saves. The team threw two no-hitters, ranked first in the league in ERA, WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.44) and was tied for first in wins. Straker originally started with the organization as a pitching coach for the Venezuelan Summer League Phillies and stayed in that role until 2015. During his time with the organization, the Venezuela native has helped guide the VSL Phillies to two championships (2006 and 2012) and the DSL Phillies White to one (2022). Additionally, he assisted in the development of left-handed pitcher Ranger Suárez, who played for the VSL Phillies from 2012-14.


            “Lester exemplifies the best characteristics and qualities of this award’s namesake,” said Preston Mattingly, Phillies director of player development. “His hard work, knowledge of the game and dedication are supported by his 40-plus years in the industry. He has been integral in the development of our Latin American pitchers from our academy in the Dominican Republic all the way up to Philadelphia. We are fortunate to have Lester in the Phillies organization."


            A former pitcher, Straker spent the first 10 years of his professional career in the minor leagues with the Cincinnati Reds (1977-83), Oakland Athletics (1984) and Minnesota Twins (1985-86) before making his major league debut with Minnesota in 1987. He played two seasons with the Twins, going 10-15 with a 4.22 ERA in 47 games (40 starts). Straker, a World Series champion in 1987, also pitched in the Mexican League (1990 and 1993), Venezuelan Summer League (1992 and 1994), Italian League (1991) and Taiwan League (1995-96) before joining the coaching ranks. He spent four years as a pitching coach in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system and one year in the Atlanta Braves system prior to his time with the Phillies.


            “It is an honor to be this year's recipient of the John Vukovich Award,” Straker said. “Over my more than 40 years in baseball, I have had the privilege to coach many players and work alongside many coaches, and each one of them has played a role in making this possible. This is truly humbling. John represented everything it means to be a Phillie. I am thankful for everyone in the Phillies organization for this recognition.”


The 2023 John Vukovich Award will be presented on the field on Tuesday, Sept. 26, prior to the 6:40 p.m. game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The award was established in 2007 to honor Vukovich, the longest-tenured coach in Phillies history (17 seasons) and one of the most respected persons to ever wear a Phillies uniform. It is presented annually to an instructor in the Phillies organization who embodies the characteristics of the award’s namesake: loyalty, dedication, competitiveness, knowledge, honesty and a terrific work ethic. Vukovich, who spent 30 of his 41 years in baseball with the Phillies, passed away in March 2007.


Past winners of the John Vukovich Award have been Ramon Henderson (2007), Bill Dancy (2008), Roly deArmas (2009), Mike Compton (2010), Greg Legg (2011), Carlos Arroyo (2012), Manny Amador (2013), Sal Rende (2014), Steve Schrenk (2015), Larry Bowa (2016), Doug Mansolino (2017), Rafael DeLima (2018), Ernie Whitt (2019), Orlando Muñoz (2021) and Marty Malloy (2022). The award was not given in 2020.

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