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Coaching Staff

  MANAGER: ROCKET WHEELER
Rocket Wheeler Rocket Wheeler begins his first year as the skipper of the Mudcats and 14th overall season as a manager in the Braves system in 2016. He previously managed the Gulf Coast League Braves from 2011 to 2014, the Mississippi Braves in 2011, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans from 2006 to 2010 and the Rome Braves from 2003 to 2005.

His assignment to the Mudcats marks his second stint as manager of the Braves' High-A affiliate. He earned Baseball America Minor League Manager of the Year honors in 2008 after leading the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to a franchise record 89 regular season wins. He also won the Carolina League Manager of the Year award that same season. The Braves named Wheeler their Minor League Manager of the Year in 2003 after he lead Rome to the South Atlantic League Championship.

Wheeler previously spent 26 seasons (1977-2002) in the Toronto Blue Jays organization as a player, coach and manager.

In 1999, Wheeler was named Florida State League Manager of the Year (Dunedin Blue Jays) and in 1996 while at St. Catharine, Wheeler was awarded the inaugural Bobby Mattick Award for excellence in player development after being named the Manager of the Year in the New York-Penn League.

A 13th-round draft pick in 1977, Wheeler played six seasons in the Blue Jays farm system and began his coaching career in 1981 while also a full-time player at Florence.

 

 
  PITCHING COACH: DERRICK LEWIS
Derrick Lewis Derrick Lewis returns to Carolina for his second straight season as the Pitching Coach of the Mudcats. Lewis is in his 13th overall season as a pitching coach within the Braves system and his third as the organization's High-A pitching coach.

Lewis entered the coaching ranks with the Braves in 2004 and has worked as a pitching coach ever since. He previously spent three seasons (2011-13) with the Class-A Rome Braves, three seasons (2008-10) with the rookie-level Danville Braves and four seasons (2004-07) with the Gulf Coast League Braves.

In 2009, Lewis' Danville Braves pitching staff ranked first in the Appalachian League with a 3.05 ERA, 604.2 innings pitched and 26 saves and was second with 582 strikeouts.

His affiliation with the Braves dates back to 1997 when Atlanta selected Lewis in the 20th round of the June free agent draft. He spent six years (1997-2003) as a pitcher in the Braves minor league system and was selected by the Braves organization as the Myrtle Beach Pitcher of the Year in 1999 when he finished second in the Carolina League in ERA. For his career, he posted a 31-37 record with a 4.04 ERA in 161 minor league games.

 

 
  HITTING COACH: CARLOS MENDEZ
Carlos Mendez Carlos Mendez enters his second straight season as Hitting Coach of the Mudcats in 2016. This year also marks his ninth overall season in the Braves organization. Mendez opened the 2014 season as the hitting coach of the rookie-level Danville Braves before being assigned to the same role with the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats that same season. He has been the Hitting Coach of Atlanta's High-A club ever since.

Mendez originally joined the Braves in 2008 as a hitting instructor for the rookie-level Danville Braves, a position he held through the 2010 season. From 2011 to 2012, Mendez served as the Rome Braves hitting coach and he spent the 2013 season with the Gulf Coast League Braves in the same role.

Mendez, a career .297 hitter at the minor-league level, played 16 seasons with five different organizations (Kansas City, Detroit, Oakland, Baltimore and Atlanta) from 1991-2007. During his 16-year career, Mendez often ranked in the top ten in several offensive categories and he was also named to several All-Star teams.

In 2003, Mendez spent nearly four months with the Baltimore Orioles over two stints and played in 26 games for the club. In 1994, he led the Midwest League (Single-A) with a .355 batting average. Mendez was originally signed by the Kansas City Royals as a non-drafted free agent in 1991.