ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — University of New Mexico baseball volunteer assistant coach Tony Cappuccilli has accepted a position with the Los Angeles Dodgers after helping the Lobos stay one of the top hitting teams in the nation over the previous three seasons.
The Huntington Beach, California, native will be working as a hitting advisor for the Dodgers and will be based out of Phoenix – starting his new position Aug. 19.
“I’m very grateful to have had this the opportunity to be at UNM and be surrounded by a great staff and a winning tradition,” said Cappuccilli, who coached on the 2016 Mountain West Tournament and 2017 Mountain West regular-season champion Lobo teams. “It was a great move for me to make, but I think this is a good time for me to try something new. I want to continue to have an impact on an organization, but now at a different level.”
Cappuccilli said he’ll be working along with the Dodgers’ hitting coaches at Camelback Ranch (the Dodgers’ spring training and rookie team home) through mid-October.
“The organization is very collaborative and they like to hear opinions from numerous angles,” Cappuccilli said. “I’m going to be another voice in that process and hopefully bring something to the table with the organization’s younger hitters.”
UNM coach Ray Birmingham said he’s pleased for Cappuccilli – but it’s tough to lose his presence in the program.
“I’m going to miss that guy,” Birmingham said. “While he’s a good coach, he’s just as good – if not a better – human being. The Dodgers have hired a good one.”
For Cappuccilli, he said he’ll always remember the number of people who asked how the UNM program was such a dynamic offense (the Lobos finished in the top 12 in batting average nationally in each of his three seasons at UNM).
“Anytime we would be doing camps or anything like that, I’d always be asked ‘How do you guys always hit and have an offense like that?'” Cappuccilli said. “The biggest thing I took away from UNM is that we worked at it and worked harder than anybody else. There’s no quick fix. From an overall baseball standpoint, we worked harder than anyone with our hitting and that led to really good offensive numbers. When I was at other places, we worked on hitting – but nothing like I did at UNM and with Coach Birmingham.”
As for what he’ll miss the most – it’s those times behind the scenes where it was just baseball talk with coaches and the players.
“We have so much experience with Coach Birmingham, Buddy (Gouldsmith) and (Ken) Jacome,” Cappuccilli said. “Having that much experience, when you sit around and talk baseball you learn a lot. That’s where a lot of the growth develops as a coach – talking about the game and figuring out new ways to do this. I’ll also miss the players, getting a chance to be around them on a daily basis and watch them improve.”