Smokies' Harper named to Futures Game staff

KODAK, Tenn. (Team release) -- Tennessee Smokies manager Brian Harper has been named to the U.S. Team coaching staff in the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz.

Harper will serve on a staff, led by U.S. Team manager Mike Piazza, that included four other Minor League managers – Tony Beasley of the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals), Brett Butler of the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks), Doug Dascenzo of the San Antonio Missions (Padres) and Rick Sweet of the Louisville Bats (Reds) – and one pitching coach – Ross Grimsley of the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants).

Harper, who led the Smokies to a First-Half Southern League North Division Championship, is in his first season at the helm of the Smokies. He has led to Smokies to a league-best 51-34 record in 2011. Harper spent the past 10 years within the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2001-07) and San Francisco Giants (2008-10) organizations, as a manager or coordinator.

Harper came to the Smokies after leading the San Francisco Giants’ Class A San Jose Giants to the 2010 California League Championship. He also spent two years in the Giants’ organization as its roving minor league catching instructor (2008-09). Prior to this time with the Giants, he was in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s minor league system, managing its rookie league team in the Arizona League (2001-05) and the Class AAA Salt Lake Bees (2006-07).

Harper’s major league career spanned from 1979-95 and included a World Series appearance with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985 and World Series championship with Minnesota Twins in 1991. He hit .295 in 1,001 big league games and caught behind the plate for a total of seven teams.

This is the second straight year that a Smokies manager has participated in the XM All-Star Futures game, as former Smokies manager, and current Iowa Cubs skipper, Bill Dancy was named to the U.S. Team coaching staff in 2010.

Now in its 13th year, the XM All-Star Futures Game features the top Minor League prospects competing in a nine-inning contest as part of Taco Bell All-Star Sunday. The game will begin at 6:00 p.m. (ET)/3:00 p.m. (MT) and can be viewed live on ESPN2, ESPN2 HD and MLB.TV. Sirius XM, the Official Satellite Radio Partner of Major League Baseball, will provide play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game on MLB Network Radio XM 89 in addition to its other comprehensive live coverage from Arizona. Taco Bell All-Star Sunday is the first of three days of All-Star events at Chase Field, culminating with the 82nd All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 12th.

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