The Gwinnett Braves changed their name to the Gwinnett Stripers on Dec. 8. The Stripers will feature the same coaching staff from the 2017 season. MATT KEMPNER / AJC
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Braves make changes to 2018 minor league coaching staff

The Braves announced their 2018 minor league coaching staff Friday. Twenty coaches are returning, including all the Triple-A Gwinnett staff, while the lower levels received a makeover.

Stripers manager Damon Berryhill returns for his second season after spending seven with the Dodgers. He spoke highly of his first year back in the Braves organization

“We’ve had a young team all season and guys performed all year for us, improved,” Berryhill said after the team finished the season 71-71. “Our young players, most of them have gotten an opportunity to play in the big leagues, and that’s our goal down here: to get those guys prepared to get up there and get their opportunity. And I think myself and the staff have done a good job preparing those kids.” 

Hitting coach John Moses and pitching coach Reid Cornelius remain in the same capacities. Nick Jensen will take over as trainer.

Chris Maloney will manage Double-A Mississippi, with former manager Luiz Salazar taking over the Advanced-A Florida FireFrogs. Maloney spent the past six years with the St. Louis Cardinals as a first base coach (2012-15) and third base coach (2016-June 2017). 

He’s won over 1,300 games in his minor-league career, including a string of success with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. His team won the Pacific Coast League in 2009. 

Dennis Lewallyn, after five seasons with the Braves organization, will be Mississippi’s pitching coach after holding the position with Florida in 2016. Lewallyn has coached for 36 years. 

Mississippi hitting coach Carlos Mendez also will jump from Florida to Mississippi. He served as FireFrogs hitting coach for the past four years. 

Salazar is 769-836 over 14 minor-league seasons, seven of which have been with the Braves. He’ll have new pitching and hitting coaches in Mike Maroth and Rene Tosoni, respectively.

Maroth has been with the Braves over the past two seasons as a minor league pitching rehabilitation coordinator. Tosoni is coaching for the first time after a seven-year major league career with the Twins and Brewers from 2007-13. Trainer Dave Comeau will serve his second season as trainer.

In Single-A Rome, Ralph “Rocket” Wheeler was named the new manager. He managed Florida from June 22 onward last season.

Wheeler, in his 26th season and 16th with the Braves, is 1,366-1,510 in his career. Pitching coach Dan Meyer and hitting coach Bobby Moore will stay on Wheeler’s staff. Vic Scarpone will be the trainer after spending last season with rookie-league Danville. 

Danville is receiving a new manager itself in Barrett Kleinknecht, who managed for the first time in the Gulf Coast League last season, leading the GCL Braves to a 31-28 record. Nestor Perez, who managed Danville a year ago, will take over the GCL Braves.

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