The Atlanta Braves pride themselves on continuity, and they continue to prove that by inviting back all four managers in the top levels of the minor leagues.
Pat Kelly will be back in AAA Richmond in 2005. Kelly led the Braves to the International League Championship in 2004 in his second season in the organization. The former Braves minor league catcher has also worked in the Blue Jays and White Sox organizations.
Longtime Brave Brian Snitker will be the manager of the new AA team in Mississippi.
Snitker passed the 1000-win mark last season for his minor league managerial career. He will be in his fourth straight season in AA for the Braves as a skipper. Snitker was the Atlanta bullpen coach in 1985 and from 1988-90.
Randy Ingle, also a Brave for life, will head back to Myrtle Beach for his fourth straight season. Ingle played in the Braves system as an infielder from 1979-87 before beginning his coaching career. He led Myrtle Beach to a 75-63 record in 2004. Ingle was the Southern League Manager of the Year in 1997.
Rocket Wheeler heads back to Rome for his third season. Wheeler won the Sally League title during Rome's inaugural season in 2003. With a younger club in 2004, Wheeler led Rome to a 70-70 record. Wheeler came to the Braves after 26 years in the Toronto Blue Jays organization as a player, coach, or manager in the minor leagues.
A few changes with the pitching coaches for 2005. Mike Alvarez, who was the Roving Pitching Instructor last season, will replace Guy Hansen in AAA Richmond. Alvarez was in AA Greenville two seasons ago and was a longtime AAA pitching coach with the Royals in the early 90's.
Great news in Mississippi as Kent Willis will be the pitching coach for the new AA team there. Kent has been with the Low-A team in both Macon and Rome for the past six seasons. He lives in Jackson, Mississippi, so the Braves are allowing Kent to work at home. But he deserves the promotion to AA. He has done a fabulous job over the years with our young pitchers at a very important level of Low-A.
Dave Schuler, who coached in AA last season, will be a pitching coach at the Braves complex in Orlando.
Bruce Dal Canton will go back to Myrtle Beach for his 7th season with the Pelicans. Dal Canton has been with the Braves since 1982 as a coach. He was the pitching coach in Atlanta in 1987-1990. Dal Canton also pitched for the Braves in the mid-70's. He played in the big leagues for 12 seasons with the Royals, Pirates, White Sox, and Braves.
And replacing Willis in Rome will be Jim Czajkowski, who has spent the past three seasons as the pitching coach in Danville.
As for the hitting coaches, Rick Albert will once again be in Richmond. Albert has been in the Braves organization since 1972 as a player, coach, or manager. Phil Wellman heads back to AA in Mississippi. He was a Braves minor leaguer from 1984-86 before finishing up in the Twins and Pirates systems.
The legendary Bobby Moore will be back in Rome for his fifth season in Low-A. Moore has been in the Braves system as a coach for nine seasons. Former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Franklin Stubbs, who has been the roving hitting instructor for the last few seasons, will stay in Myrtle Beach as their hitting coach. Jack Maloof, who has coached in Myrtle the last few years, will now be the rover.
Guru Jay Williams returns as the trainer in Richmond. Nebraska's own Mike Graus will head to Mississippi. The Single-A trainers have swapped places, with DVD Drew Van Dam going from Rome to Myrtle Beach and Mike Dart heading to Rome.
Bill Shanks can be reached at email@example.com
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