Dayton, Ohio-The Dayton Dragons announced their 2017 coaching staff today, as assigned by the Cincinnati Reds.
Former Dragons infielder Luis Bolivar (BULL-uh-varr), a Midwest League All-Star in 2004, will serve as Dragons manager in 2017. Bolivar became the first former Dragons player to serve as a coach for the franchise when he filled the role of Dragons hitting coach for each of the last three seasons. He will become the Dragons ninth manager. He replaces Dick Schofield, who managed the Dragons in 2016.
Joining Bolivar on the Dragons 2017 coaching staff will be pitching coach Derrin Ebert, hitting coach Daryle Ward, and bench coach Kevin Mahar. The field staff will also include trainer Kyle Utne, and strength/conditioning coach Trey Strickland.
The addition of the bench coach is new for all Reds affiliates in 2017 as the coaching staffs for the Reds farm clubs increase from three to four full-time instructors. Jeff Graupe, Reds Director of Player Development, says the addition of the bench coach will allow for "more individual instruction and improved in-game teaching."
Dragons 2016 manager Dick Schofield will serve as the bench coach for the Reds Double-A affiliate, Pensacola. Corky Miller, who served as a coach for the Dragons for home games in 2015-16, will move into the role of Reds Minor League Roving Catching Instructor and work will catchers at all levels.
Luis Bolivar, Manager
Bolivar (BULL-uh-varr) will serve as a manager for the first time in 2017, though he has gained experience in the role of manager with the Reds Fall Instructional League program in Arizona. The 2017 season will be Bolivar's fifth year in coaching in the Reds system. He spent 2013 as the hitting coach with the AZL Reds in Goodyear, Arizona before joining the Dragons as hitting coach in 2014.
Bolivar played for the Dragons in 2003-'04 and represented the team in the 2004 Midwest League All-Star Game. On April 15, 2004, Bolivar blasted a "walk-off" home run for the Dragons as the club defeated Lansing at Fifth Third Field. It ranks as one of only 19 walk-off homers in franchise history.
Bolivar spent nine years in the Minor Leagues as a player and gained experience at every level of the Reds organization. He played at least 150 games at three different positions, working at second base, shortstop, and third base. He also saw action in left field, right field, and first base. On April 7, 2008 with the Chattanooga Lookouts, Bolivar became just the 11th player in Southern League history to collect six hits in one game. He completed his playing career in 2010. Bolivar, 35, resides in the Dayton suburb of Vandalia.
Derrin Ebert, Pitching Coach
Ebert, 40, will return to the Dragons in 2017 for his second season as pitching coach and his sixth year as a coach in the Reds organization. Ebert pitched professionally from 1994-2005, appearing briefly in the Major Leagues with the Atlanta Braves in 1999, when he made the big league club's Opening Day roster as part of a pitching staff that featured three future Hall-of-Fame starting pitchers in Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. Ebert earned a save in his Major League debut at the age of 22 on April 6, 1999 as a contributor to a Braves team that eventually won the National League pennant before losing in the World Series to the Yankees. As a Minor League pitcher, he reached double-figures in victories in three consecutive seasons in the Braves organization from 1995-'97. Ebert is a native of Anaheim, California and now lives in Litchfield Park, Arizona. He is a graduate of Arizona State University. Ebert appeared in the 2011 movie, Moneyball.
Daryle Ward, Hitting Coach
Ward, 41, joins the Dragons as hitting coach. The 2017 season will be Ward's second season in coaching and second year in the Reds organization. He served as the hitting coach for the AZL Reds in Goodyear, Arizona in 2016. Ward, the son of two-time Major League All-Star Gary Ward, enjoyed an 11-year big league playing career as a first baseman/left fielder, playing for six different clubs. He made his Major League debut in 1998 with the Houston Astros and also played for the Dodgers, Pirates, Nationals, Braves, and Cubs. Ward belted a career-high 20 home runs for the Astros in 2000. Ward transitioned into one of the top pinch hitters in baseball in the later years of his career. He led all of baseball in pinch hits and runs batted in as a pinch hitter in 2006 while finishing tied for first in pinch hit home runs. Following the completion of his Major League career in 2008, Ward spent parts of the next seven years as player in the independent Atlantic League before retiring at the age of 40 following the 2015 season. Ward played in 948 Major League games while his total number of games played in all of professional baseball was 2,318 over a 22-year career. Ward is a native of the Los Angeles area and now makes his off-season home in Riverside, California.
Kevin Mahar, Bench Coach
Mahar, 35, rejoins the Reds organization after a three-year stint as a hitting coach in the system from 2013-15. He coached the hitters at Billings for two seasons before spending a year with Daytona, then was out of coaching in 2016. Mahar, a former outfielder/first baseman, played professionally for seven seasons and reached the big leagues with the Texas Rangers in 2007. He was signed by the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in 2004 out of Indiana University and completed his playing career in 2010 in the Phillies organization. Mahar was selected as a California League full-season all-star in 2005 with Bakersfield when he batted .315 with 17 home runs. Mahar grew up in Midland, Michigan, home of the Midwest League's Great Lakes Loons. He currently resides in Jasper, Indiana.
The Dragons open their 18th season in the Midwest League on Thursday, April 6 at 7:00 p.m. against the Lake County Captains at Fifth Third Field. Call the Dragons at (937) 228-2287 for information on season tickets, group outings, party decks, or luxury suites.
Luis Bolivar career statistics: http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=boliva001lui
Derrin Ebert career statistics: http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=ebert-001der
Daryle Ward career statistics: http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=ward--001dar
Kevin Mahar career statistics: http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=mahar-001kev