The Atlanta Braves announced their 2012 minor league coaching staffs today, including one new manager and three skippers managing at a different affiliate level. In addition, Lee Elia will serve as a Special Assistant to Player Development and Rick Slate will be the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator.
The Gwinnett Braves (AAA) return their entire coaching staff as manager Dave Brundage will lead the Club for his sixth season, while pitching coach Marty Reed serves his second season and hitting coach Jamie Dismuke returns for his fourth campaign. Trainer Mike Graus will be entering his 20th season with the Braves and his seventh with the Triple-A Club.
The Mississippi Braves (AA) will feature a new manager as Aaron Holbert joins the organization from the Cleveland Indians, where he spent the last four seasons as a manger in their farm system. Holbert, who led three of his last four teams to the playoffs, was at the helm for the Kinston Indians (A) from 2010 to 2011, and from 2008 to 2009 he managed the Lake County Captains (A). In 2011, Holbert garnered Carolina League Manager of the Year honors after leading his team to the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Pitching coach Mike Alvarez returns to the Club for his second season, while hitting coach Garey Ingram will serve as the Double-A hitting coach for his third season. Trainer Ricky Alcantara is returning for his fifth campaign at Mississippi.
The Lynchburg Hillcats (A) return their entire coaching staff as Luis Salazar will manage the team for his second season and his 10th season overall as a minor league manager. Also returning to the Hillcats for their second season is pitching coach Derek Botelho, hitting coach Bobby Moore, and trainer Ty Cobbs.
Randy Ingle, who will be entering his 21st season as a manager in the Braves organization, joins the Rome (A) Braves coaching staff after managing the Danville (Rookie) Braves in 2011, and previous to that spending five seasons (2006-10) at the helm of the Rome (A) Braves. Returning for their second season to the Rome staff is pitching coach Derrick Lewis and hitting coach Carlos Mendez. In his fourth season as a trainer in the organization, Brandon Harris returns to Rome for his second season.
The Danville (Rookie) Braves will feature a new manager, as Jonathan Schuerholz, who is in his second season as a minor league manager, will be at the helm after managing the Gulf Coast League Braves in 2011. Hitting coach Rick Albert, a staple in the Braves organization since 1972, is in his first stint with the Danville Braves. Returning to the Danville staff for their second season is Gabe Lukert as pitching coach and Kyle Damschroder as the trainer.
Ralph "Rocket" Wheeler will be in his first season as the Gulf Coast League (Rookie) Braves Manager, and his 10th season overall as a skipper in the organization. Returning to the staff for his second season is pitching coach Vladimir Nunez. Nunez has been a member of the Braves organization since 2008 and spent the 2008 to 2010 seasons pitching for the Gwinnett Braves. In 2008 and 2009 he had brief stints with the Major League club. Hitting coach D.J. Boston joins the GCL staff from the Danville Braves where he spent the 2011 campaign, his first season in the organization. Joe Toenjes, in his third season with the organization, will again serve as the trainer.
Lee Elia, who has spent more than 50 years in professional baseball as a player, coach and manager, will serve his first season as Special Assistant to Player Development in 2012. In 2011, Elia served as a Special Assistant to the General Manager Frank Wren and as a Major and Minor League Instructor and previous to that he served as a special assistant to the general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers for two seasons and previous to that he served as a special assistant to the general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers for two seasons from 2009 to 2010. The former infielder played for the White Sox and Cubs in 1966 and 1968, and served as a coach for the Phillies, Yankees, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, and Orioles in addition to his time as a Major League manager. Elia piloted the Cubs from 1982 to 1983 and the Phillies from 1987 to 1988.
Rick Slate joins the organization as the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator from the New York Mets, where he was the Major League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for eight seasons from December of 2002 to the end of the 2010 season. Previous to his stint with New York, Slate served nine seasons (1993-2001) in the same role with the Florida Marlins. Slate began his professional career as the Marlins minor league strength and conditioning coordinator and spent one year (1992) in that role prior to his promotion to the Major League club.