Jesus Rafael Azuaje Tovar
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 177 lb.
Jesus Azuaje played baseball for 15 years and later became a coach.
He was signed by the Cleveland Indians originally in 1991. In 1992, he hit .281 for the DSL Indians. He came stateside in 1993 with the Burlington Indians, hitting .280/~.357/.409 with 19 steals in 21 tries; he went 5 for 11 with two walks in a brief stint with the Kinston Indians as well. He led the Appalachian League's second basemen with a .986 fielding percentage. He made the Appalachian League All-Star team at second base for his fine combination of offensive and defensive skills.
In 1994, Jesus batted .282/.384/.378 with 21 steals in 28 tries for the Columbus RedStixx; he led South Atlantic League second basemen with a .974 fielding percentage. He was the player to be named later that winter in a deal with Paul Byrd, Dave Mlicki and Jerry Dipoto to the New York Mets for Joe Roa and Jeromy Burnitz.
In 1995, the Venezuelan infielder split time between the St. Lucie Mets (.239/~.319/.281 in 91 games), the Binghamton Mets (.198/~.289/.256 in 24 games) and the Norfolk Tides (6 for 14, 2 BB in his AAA debut). Azuaje split 1996 between the Binghamton Mets (.237/~.354/.325 in 86 games) and the Capital City Bombers (2 for 3, 2B). In 1997, he played for Binghamton (.278/~.364/.384 in 100 games) and Norfolk (.306/~.393/.457 in 22 games).
Azuaje repeated with Binghamton and Norfolk in '98, hitting .278/~.362/.393 for the former (with 15 steals in 16 tries) in 110 games and .212/~.257/.303 in 10 games for the latter.
Brewers and Tigers Chains
Azuaje signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for 1999 and hit .281/~.390/.411 for their Huntsville Stars affiliate. He drew 70 walks while only striking out 26 times in 391 AB and stole 34 bases in 42 tries. For 2000, he was in the Detroit Tigers organization, batting .217/.295/.306 in 61 games for the Toledo Mud Hens, his only full yeatr at AAA. His glovework remained excellent as he fielded .979 in 52 games at shortstop, his primary position.
Azuaje next plied his trade in the independent leagues. In 2001, he hit .286 and slugged .438 in 59 games for the Camden Riversharks and .228/?/.266 in 46 for the Allentown Ambassadors. He hit .258 and slugged .404 as the Camden shortstop in 2002. In 2003, he returned to Camden and batted .283, slugging .404.
Jesus moved on to Italy's Serie A1 in 2004 with T&A San Marino. He hit .330/.394/.436 in 24 games, mostly at third base. He hit .410/.500/.550 with 6 runs in 5 games in the 2005 European Cup. He tied Jairo Ramos Gizzi for 3rd in total bases (11), was 4th in hits (9), tied for 3rd in runs (6, tied with Ronald Jaarsma, Harvey Monte and Ralph Milliard), was 5th in average and slugging and tied for 6th in OBP. In 2005, he batted .306/.406/.388 and helped San Marino make it to the finals, where they fell in 7 games. Azuaje fell to .262/.335/.321 in his third season in San Marino and retired, 15 years after his first baseball contract had been signed.
While still an active player in the summers, Azuaje began coaching in the Venezuelan Winter League with the Cardenales de Lara. In 2007, he coached for the VSL Mariners, then was promoted to the Pulaski Mariners in 2008. The 2009 Mariners Media Guide mistakenly lists him with both Clinton and Everett for 2009; either would be a promotion from 2008. He has been announced as the hitting coach for the Clinton LumberKings in 2009 replacing Eddie Menchaca. Menchaca who was originally announced for Clinton was reassigned to Pulaski. In 2010, Azuaje managed the AZL Mariners and returned in 2011. He opened 2011 as the interim manager for the LumberKings while Menchaca was on paternity leave. After that season, he was named the Mariners' Latin American field coordinator. There is no record of his professional activities in 2013. Azuaje worked in the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization in 2014 as their Latin American field coordinator. Azuaje moved to the Kansas City Royals' chain as a hitting coach for the Burlington Royals in 2015-2016 and Lexington Legends in 2017-2019. He was slated to return to Lexington in 2020 before the minor league season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Azuaje served as the hitting coach for the Columbia Fireflies in 2021-2022. He also worked as a coach for the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League following the 2021 season.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|2010||AZL Mariners||Arizona League||20-36||4th||Seattle Mariners|
|2011||Clinton LumberKings||Midwest League||4-8||--||Seattle Mariners||--||replaced by Eddie Menchaca on April 19|
|AZL Mariners||Arizona League||25-31||9th||Seattle Mariners|
- 2009 Mariners Media Guide
- SABR Database
- Pat Doyle's Professional baseball player database
- 1994-2007 Baseball Almanacs
- Italian Baseball and Softball Federation