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Bianchi, Steffy Return to Peeples’ Staff


Lancaster, PA — The Lancaster Barnstormers have added former Detroit Tigers minor league coach and one-time big league hurler Mark Johnson to their staff for the 2022 season.

Johnson, 46, will become Lancaster’s first full-time pitching coach since Scott Patterson in 2017.

He will join manager Ross Peeples, hitting coach Jeff Bianchi and first base coach/director of baseball operations Troy Steffy in the dugout for the upcoming season.

Following a nine-year playing career (1997-2005) during which the former Houston first round draft choice reached the big leagues with the Tigers in 2000, Johnson spent 15 seasons coaching at various levels of the Detroit system.  The Ohio native served as the pitching coach at Class AA Erie since 2019, but his contract was not renewed for 2022 following a regime change at Comerica Park.

Johnson signed with the Astros out of the University of Hawaii for the 1997 season and was subsequently traded to the Miami Marlins as the player to be named later in a deal that sent Moises Alou to Houston.  After one season with Class AA Portland, he was again dealt, this time in a package that brought third baseman Mike Lowell from the New York Yankees to the Marlins.

Detroit selected him in the Rule V Draft in December 1999, and he opened the 2000 season with Detroit.  After going 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA in nine appearances, including three starts, the right-hander was sent to Class AAA Toledo.

He had later stints in Class AAA with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers but returned to the Tigers after one season with each.  He retired as a player following the 2005 season and was hired by the Tigers as a coach with their NY-P League affiliate in Oneonta.

“Mark is a veteran coach who has coached in affiliated ball the last 15 years,” said Peeples.  “We have been looking for a pitching coach, and I think he will bring a lot of quality to our staff and be a big value in game situations.”

“I am excited to be a part of the Barnstormers,” said Johnson.  “I am looking forward to the start of the season.”

Bianchi, 35, returns for his second season working with the Barnstormers hitters and fielders.  The Lancaster native oversaw an offense in 2021 that averaged 6.7 runs per game, third best in the Atlantic League.  The team also finished third in extra base hits (394) while pacing the circuit in walks (609).

Drafted by Kansas City in the second round in 2005, the Lampeter-Strasburg alumnus had his best season with the Royals in 2009, batting a combined .308 with nine homers and 70 RBI for Class A Wilmington and Class AA NW Arkansas.  Three years later, he moved to the Milwaukee system and hit .325 between Class AA Huntsville and Class AAA Nashville, leading to his first Major League promotion.

The right-handed batting infielder would play a portion of four seasons in the Major Leagues, batting .215 over 165 games.  Bianchi retired as a player following a Class AAA stint with the Colorado Rockies in 2016.  He served as a scout for the Brewers from 2017-20 before joining the Lancaster staff in 2021.

“JB is my guy,” said Peeples.  “I love the way he goes about his business each and every day.  His approach to learn and focus on details is a great asset to our team on the field and in the locker room.”

“I am thrilled to be back for another season with the Barnstormers,” Bianchi said.  “Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed the relationships I made with the players and watching them grow in their abilities.  Furthermore, working alongside Ross Peeples every day was an honor.  I can’t wait to get rolling to hopefully bring another championship to Lancaster.”

Steffy, an area resident, has been with the Barnstormers since taking on a part-time role in 2017.  The former trainer, scout and agent became a part of the full-time staff in 2019.  He coaches first base at home and in York and runs the baseball operations at the stadium from field and clubhouse maintenance to clinics to amateur tournaments.

About the Lancaster Barnstormers

The Lancaster Barnstormers are headed into their 18th year in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.  Home games are played at Ballpark Digest’s two-time Best Ballpark in MLB Partner League Baseball – Clipper Magazine Stadium in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Please call 717.509.HITS (4487) or visit www.lancasterbarnstormers.com for more information.

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB)

With teams throughout the Mid-Atlantic, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent over 1,000 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 44 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 24-year history. For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.