Former Cubs and Angels infielder Jose Nieves will join the Dragons as manager in 2013. Tony Fossas will rejoin the Dragons as pitching coach. The Dragons 2013 hitting coach will be announced at a later date. The Reds also announced that Tyler Steele will return to the Dragons for his fifth season as athletic trainer.
Delino DeShields, the Dragons manager in 2011-'12, will serve as the manager of the Reds' Double-A affiliate, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, in 2013. Dragons 2012 coaches Alex Pelaez and Tom Browning will also return to the Reds organization in 2013 with other affiliates.
Nieves and Fossas combine for 34 years of professional baseball playing experience including 17 years in the Major Leagues. They also combine for seven years of coaching experience in the Reds organization.
Nieves (nee-AY-ves) brings three years experience as a manager in the Reds organization to the Dragons. He managed the Reds' Arizona League club in Goodyear in each of the last two seasons after serving as manager of the Reds affiliate in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2010.
"Jose Nieves is a tremendous worker who is devoted to developing our young players," said Jeff Graupe, Reds Assistant Director of Player Development. "Jose's experiences in the game allow him to relate to players of all ages and his high baseball IQ is shown through the quality of his in-game managing."
Nieves enjoyed a five-year Major League playing career as a shortstop and second baseman. He spent parts of three seasons with the Chicago Cubs from 1998-2000. He spent the 2001-'02 seasons with the Anaheim Angels and was a member of the Angels 2002 World Series championship team. Nieves played in 212 Major League games. His big league managers included Mike Scioscia, Don Baylor, and Jim Riggleman, and he was a teammate of Yankees manager Joe Girardi while with the Cubs.
Nieves, 37, also played in the Minor Leagues for 13 seasons from 1995-2008, appearing in 790 games. He spent the 1996 season in the Midwest League with the Rockford Cubbies prior to the Dragons arrival. Nieves was born in Venezuela and now makes his home in the Phoenix area.
Fossas (FOSS-us) returns to the Dragons after serving as the Dayton pitching coach for three seasons from 2009-'11. He was the pitching coach at Billings in 2012 where his staff finished second in the Pioneer League in team earned run average. In 2011 with the Dragons, Fossas oversaw a pitching staff that emerged as the best in Dragons history. The 2011 Dragons hurlers broke the all-time Midwest League record for strikeouts in a season and broke the franchise record for best ERA while leading the league in ERA, strikeouts, shutouts, and fewest runs allowed.
Over his four seasons in the Reds organization, Fossas has been instrumental in the development of pitching prospects Robert Stephenson, Daniel Corcino, Chad Rogers, Ismael Guillon, Drew Hayes, and many others. With Billings in 2012, Fossas worked with most of the same pitchers who will compete for spots on the 2013 Dragons pitching staff.
DeShields guided the Dragons to a club record 83 victories in 2011 (83-57) when the team led all of professional baseball in stolen bases and posted the Minor Leagues' best second half record of 48-22. The 2011 Dragons became just the second Midwest League team in the last 43 years to lead the league in most runs scored and fewest runs allowed. DeShields, along with Fossas and the 2011 Dragons, were in first place for the final 68 days of the season on the way to their third division title in club history. DeShields finished his Dragons tenure with a record of 143-135, making him the second winningest manager in franchise history.
The Dragons open their 14th season in the Midwest League on April 4 at West Michigan with opening night at Fifth Third Field set for April 11.