COLUMBIA, S.C. - Former South Atlantic League Manager of the Year Jose Leger will return as skipper of the Fireflies in 2017, the New York Mets announced today. Leger piloted Columbia through the Inaugural Season in 2016 after having managed the previous South Atlantic League affiliate of the Mets, the Savannah Sand Gnats, in 2015. The 2017 season will mark the 34-year-old's third managing at the class-A level.
The dugout will feature three other familiar faces. Jonathan Hurst (Pitching Coach), Joel Fuentes (Hitting Coach) and Kiyoshi Tada (Athletic Trainer) also return to Columbia in 2017. Tanner Miracle rounds out the coaching staff as the new Strength and Conditioning Coach.
"We are thrilled to welcome back Jose and the entire coaching staff from last season and are excited to have Miracle join the staff as well," Team President John Katz said. "Jose is one of the top young managers in baseball and an outstanding person as well."
This will be Leger's eighth season managing in the Mets minor league system. The native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was named South Atlantic Manager of the Year after guiding the 2015 Sand Gnats to a Mets organization-best 84-53 overall record. Even despite seeing 13 different Fireflies hit the disabled list in 2016, Leger still managed Columbia to a 67-73 overall mark in its inaugural season in 2016. He was also the skipper of the advanced-rookie level Kingsport Mets from 2012-2014 and the Dominican Summer League Mets in 2010 and 2011.
Hurst and Fuentes both return for their second seasons in Columbia. 2017 marks the 12th and 11th seasons respectively for Hurst and Fuentes coaching in the Mets organization. Hurst, a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, pitched for the Mets in 1994, two years after making his major league debut with the Montreal Expos in 1992. Fuentes spent three years playing in the San Francisco Giants organization from 1997-1999. The former infielder grew up in Puerto Rico before playing collegiately at Southeastern Illinois College.
2017 will be Tada's second season in Columbia; he spent 2015 as the Athletic Trainer for the Mets short-season A affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones. The Aichi, Japan, native was also with the Kingsport Mets from 2012-2014 with Leger and Hurst. Miracle is the newest member of the Fireflies staff. From 2015-2016, Miracle - who hails from Olathe, Kansas - was the Director of Strength and Conditioning Operations for the Webber International University baseball team in Babson Park, Florida. He begins his first season in the Mets organization.
Season ticket packages are now available for the 2017 season. Reserve your seats by calling the Fireflies Ticket Office at 803-726-HITS or visiting www.ColumbiaFireflies.com for more information. 2016 season ticket members can renew their package by contacting their ticket account manager or by calling the ticket office. Plans start as low as $99.
Individual tickets for select Fireflies home games in 2017 are not yet available. All single-game tickets will go on sale in early 2017.
About the Columbia Fireflies
The Columbia Fireflies are the South Atlantic League affiliate of the New York Mets. Winners of Ballpark Digest's Best New Branding and Logo Award in 2016, the Fireflies play games across the southeast and mid-Atlantic regions, including against in-state rivals in Charleston and Greenville. The team partnered with the city of Columbia and Hughes Development to construct Spirit Communications Park, a multi-use outdoor sports and entertainment venue at the center of the BullStreet development. The Columbia Fireflies are owned by Hardball Capital, owners of the Fort Wayne TinCaps of the Midwest League and the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League. For more information, visit www.ColumbiaFireflies.com, or follow the Fireflies on Twitter (@ColaFireflies), Facebook (facebook.com/columbiafireflies) and all popular social media platforms.
About Spirit Communications Park
Spirit Communications Park, the 2016 Ballpark Digest Ballpark of the Year, is a 365-day per year multi-use sports and entertainment venue located in the heart of downtown Columbia, South Carolina. Spirit Communications Park is the home ballpark for the Columbia Fireflies, the South Atlantic League affiliate of the New York Mets. Designed for baseball, concerts, football, soccer and a host of other activities, the venue seats approximately 9,000 for sporting events and up to 15,000 for major outdoor concerts. With 16 luxury suites and a 7,000 square-foot Club Level Lounge, Spirit Communications Park also hosts everything from business meetings to wedding receptions, and everything in between. The venue is open 365 days a year and serves as a public park, with a wrap-around concourse representing 1/3 of a mile for walkers and joggers. For more information, visit www.SpiritCommunicationsPark.com.