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Craig Bjornson was named the Astros bullpen coach on Oct. 22, 2013, for his second stint at that position. He also served as the Astros bullpen coach in 2012 before spending the 2013 season as the organization's minor league roving pitching instructor. Under his watch, the Astros 2016 bullpen corps led the American League in strikeouts with 617, which also marked a franchise record. Bjornson, a former pitcher in the Astros minor league system, has over 20 years of experience in professional baseball. He started his coaching career as a pitching coach for the Vermont Expos in 1999. Since then he's also spent time working in the Kansas City, Washington, Los Angeles (NL) and Colorado organizations (2000-11) as a pitching coach at the minor league level. He also spent four seasons as pitching coach for the Occidente Pastora de los Llanos of the Venezuelan Winter League (2000-03). Bjornson, a southpaw, pitched in high school for the Tucson High Badgers, a club that won the 1987 Arizona State Championship. He went on to Junior College at Arizona Western in Yuma, Ariz., and played for head coach John Stratton, a mentor to Bjornson. Following his time at Arizona Western, Bjornson transferred to Nicholls State University in Thibodeau, La., and later was signed by the Astros as a non-drafted free agent in 1991. His signing scout, Clark Crist, later coached Bjornson when he pitched for the Auburn Astros of the New York-Penn League. He pitched three seasons in the Astros farm system from 1991-93, making 81 appearances (27 starts), while posting a 3.0 walks-per-9.0 innings ratio, a 5.7 strikeouts-per-9.0 ratio and an overall 3.82 ERA. He pitched at Quad Cities in his final season of 1993.

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