CURVE, Pa. - Western Pennsylvania native Michael Ryan has been named as the new manager of the Altoona Curve, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Friday afternoon.
Ryan will be joined on the Curve coaching staff by hitting coach Kevin Riggs, who returns for his third season in Altoona, and new pitching coach Bryan Hickerson.
A native of Indiana, Pa., Ryan embarks on his first season managing at the Double-A level.
"It's such an honor to lead the Curve this year," Ryan said. "It's personal to me, to be so close to home and to be around family and friends. It's absolutely amazing. It's something that I'm very proud of, and truly honored that I get to be around my sons and my wife a lot more this year."
Ryan returns to Altoona, where he served as a coach during the 2012 season.
"The stadium is absolutely beautiful," Ryan said. "I am familiar with the city of Altoona, which I absolutely love. The passion that our fans have is great."
Most recently, Ryan managed with the Pirates' Class-A affiliate in Bradenton, leading the Marauders to a Florida State League championship in 2016.
"Our goal in this organization is to play our best baseball at the end of the year and finish better than how you started," Ryan said. "That's exactly what that group did. It was almost perfect at the right time going into the playoffs, and it just clicked."
Ryan began his managerial career in 2013 with the West Virginia Power, the Pirates' Class-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League, leading the club to an 82-58 overall record and a second-half Northern Division championship.
He returned to West Virginia for the 2014 season before earning a promotion to manage Bradenton in 2015.
Overall, Ryan has compiled a 280-269 record in four seasons as a minor league manager.
Drafted in the fifth round by the Minnesota Twins out of Indiana Area Senior High School in 1996, Ryan played 15 professional seasons, including five in the majors. The former outfielder spent four seasons in the big leagues with the Twins from 2002-05, and played for the Los Angeles Angels in 2010.
Ryan currently resides in Pittsburgh with his wife, Alicia, and their two sons, Brennan (8) and Blake (6).
Riggs joined the Altoona coaching staff in 2015, heading a Curve offense that posted the top batting average in the Eastern League that season and the second-best team average in 2016. Prior to joining the Pirates' organization, Riggs managed the Colorado Rockies' Double-A affiliate in Tulsa in 2013 and 2014. As a player, he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1990 out of East Carolina University and played eight professional seasons.
"In the back of my mind, I've always wanted to work alongside (Riggs)," Ryan said. "He has some managing experience, and to have a staff member on your staff with that is a plus. There will be a lot of things that I reach out to him with. Watching him as a hitting coach, he's one of our top guys in the organization."
Hickerson comes to Altoona for his first season coaching with the Pirates' organization in 2017. Selected by the Twins in the seventh round of the 1986 MLB Draft out of the University of Minnesota, Hickerson played five seasons in the majors, including four with the San Francisco Giants from 1991-94. He joined the Chicago Cubs in 1995 before finishing the year with the Colorado Rockies.
Ryan takes over for former Curve manager Joey Cora, who was named as the Pirates' third-base and infield coach in October. Cora spent one season in Altoona, leading the team to a 76-64 record and an appearance in the Eastern League playoffs in 2016.
Hickerson replaces former Curve pitching coach Justin Meccage, who has been named as Pittsburgh's new Minor League Pitching Coordinator.
The Curve open the home slate of their 2017 season at Peoples Natural Gas Field on April 13 against the defending-champion Akron RubberDucks. Fans can save 20% off 2017 Flex Books during a special sale through January 2.