QUINCY -- After serving three years as an assistant coach and one as a co-coach of the Quincy Gems, Rick Fraire is now the head coach of the summer baseball team.
"Quincy's my home away from home," Fraire said.
Gems owner Jimmie Louthan made the announcement in a press release Friday afternoon. Fraire, the head coach at Fabens (Texas) High School, was part of the Gems' Western Division championship team in 2016 and the Prospect League champions in 2014.
Louthan experimented with co-coaches last season. Adam Hightower, an assistant coach at John Wood Community College, handled most of the on-field coaching and decision making. Fraire was in charge of much of the off-field responsibilities.
The Gems went 21-39 last season, its worst record since the franchise was started in 1996 as a member of the Central Illinois Collegiate League. Quincy's last winning record was 39-20 in 2014.
Louthan has decided to return to a more conventional staff, with Aaron Meyer joining the team as an assistant coach. He is now a student assistant at Missouri State, where he recently finished a successful college career. Meyer also played for the Gems in 2015, and he holds the Prospect League record for batting average after hitting .423 in 2016 for the Dupage Drones. He was named the Mike Schmidt Player of the Year in the Prospect League in 2016.
"It's not the coaches' faults that we had 349 walks last year," Louthan said, referring to the Prospect League record that the Gems' pitching staff set last summer. "(The co-coaching setup) was not what I thought it would be, so we'll move on."
Fraire, who turns 32 on Monday, was the third-base coach for the Danville Dans of the Prospect League in 2013, an assistant coach for the Diamond Valley Sabers in the Southern California Collegiate League in 2012, and an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for four years at the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, N.M. Fraire has coached more than 25 players selected in the Major League Baseball Draft and countless more who are playing professional baseball.
"I've been a part of the Gems for five years, and I have a good relationship (with Louthan)," Fraire said. "We're kind of like family."?"He knows the team better than anybody," Louthan said. "It's his turn to take it over. He's 100 percent dedicated to the Gems, and it's his turn to try it. He's already been helping us get the team ready."
Fraire's influence already can be seen by six pitchers from Texas who have agreed to play for the Gems this summer.
"We've been working on (the roster) since late August," Fraire said. "We've been getting kids from different places and using some of the connections that we've had before. We're going to be pretty solid."
Fraire is a native of El Paso, Texas, and played at Bates College and Sul Ross State University.