ZEBULON, N.C. - Joe Ayrault will return as manager of the Carolina Mudcats for the 2018 season, it was announced today by the Milwaukee Brewers. Ayrault will be joined by pitching coach Bob Milacki, hitting coach Sandy Guerrero, coach Edwin Maysonet , athletic trainer Jeff Bodenhamer and strength and conditioning specialist Jonah Mergen.
Ayrault, Maysonet, Bodenhamer and Mergen are all returnees to the Carolina staff; while both Milacki and Guerrero begin their first seasons with the Mudcats. Milacki takes over as pitching coach in place of Dave Chavarria who led the Carolina pitching staff during the 2017 season. Chavarria was announced as the new pitching coach of Milwaukee's Double-A affiliate, the Biloxi Shuckers today. Guerrero, meanwhile, enters the 2018 season as Carolina's new hitting coach, filling the vacancy left by 2017 hitting coach Dave Joppie as he was promoted to Milwaukee's Triple-A affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox for the new season.
Ayrault, 46, is back for his second straight season as manager of the Mudcats and his seventh overall as skipper of Milwaukee's Class-A Advanced affiliate. He previously managed the Class-A Advanced Brevard County Manatees (Florida State League) from 2012 through 2016 before leading the way for the Mudcats to a 73-65 finish last year.
The Sarasota, Florida native began his managerial career in the Cincinnati Reds organization (2007-2009) before joining the Brewers system in 2010 as skipper of the Pioneer League's Helena Brewers. In 2010, Ayrault went on to earn Pioneer League Co-Manager of the Year honors while leading Helena to a 41-34 record and the Pioneer League championship in his first season at the helm.
A former catcher, Ayrault was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the fifth round of the 1990 amateur draft and went on to spend his entire playing career (1990 - 1997) in the Atlanta organization.
Milacki, 53, is new to the Brewers system and enters his first year as Carolina's pitching coach. He most recently served the last three years as pitching coach of the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs (2015-2017) in the Washington Nationals organization. He began his coaching career in 2001 when he worked as pitching coach of the Class-A Hickory Crawdads in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization. He served in the same role with Double-A Altoona in 2002, before returning to Class-A Hickory for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Milacki then moved on to Class-A Advanced Lynchburg from 2005 through 2008, making the upcoming 2018 season a reunion of sorts as he returns for his second Carolina League run. Milacki later served as a pitching coach in the Philadelphia Phillies system from 2009 through 2014 (Class-A Lakewood 2009, Double-A Reading 2010-2012, Class-A Advanced Clearwater 2013-2014) before joining the Nationals' system in 2015.
Milacki was a second-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1983 and pitched professionally from 1984 through 2000. His major league debut came in 1988 and, overall, he appeared in 143 major-league games while pitching for Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City and Seattle. He went 39-47 and pitched to a 4.38 ERA over parts of eight major-league seasons. On July 13, 1991, Milacki threw the first six innings of a combined no-hitter for the Orioles in a 2-0 win versus the Oakland Athletics.
Guerrero, 52, is in his first year as hitting coach with the Mudcats, but is in his 16th season overall in the Brewers' organization. He previously coached in the same role with Double-A Biloxi between 2015 and 2017. Guerrero also served as hitting coach for the Double-A Huntsville Stars between 2003 and 2008 and as hitting coach with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds between 2009 and 2011. He additionally spent two seasons as Milwaukee's hitting coordinator from 2012 through 2013.
Before transitioning into his coaching career, Guerrero had a 19-year playing career that included stints in the minor leagues with Toronto and Milwaukee. He also played professionally in Mexico, Taiwan and the independent Northern League. A former infielder, Guerrero, played in the Brewers' farm system with Class-A Stockton (1986-88), Double-A El Paso (1989-90) and Triple-A Denver (1991-92).
Maysonet, 36, enters his second straight season with the Mudcats and his third year overall as a coach in the Milwaukee system after retiring as a player following the 2015 season. He was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in 2003 and first reached the Major Leagues in 2008. He played with the Astros from 2008 through 2009 and later appeared in 30 games with the Brewers in 2012.
Bodenhammer, 43, is in his second year with the Mudcats and his third straight as a team athletic trainer in the Brewers system. He previously spent 11 seasons in the Texas Rangers organization, including three seasons in the Carolina League with Myrtle Beach. While with Class-A Hickory in 2010, Bodenhamer was selected as the South Atlantic League Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS). Prior to joining the Texas farm system, Bodenhamer worked as the trainer for the Gulf Coast League Braves from 2003 through 2004. In 2008, he was also appointed head trainer at Newberry (NC) College, where he previously held the position of assistant trainer from 2000 through 2007. In 2000, he was the trainer for the Clemson University baseball team that reached the College World Series. He graduated in 1998 from Greensboro (NC) College, where he received a B.S. in physical education.
Mergen, 33, begins his second straight year with the Mudcats and eighth season in the Milwaukee organization, all of which with the club's Class-A Advanced club. Mergen has also worked in the strength and conditioning departments at NC State University, the UW-La Crosse and the National Strength and Conditioning Association World Headquarters. He graduated from St. Ambrose University with a dual degree in exercise science and Spanish in 2007. He received his master's from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in human performance in 2009.
Carolina's new season officially begins on Thursday, April 5 with Opening Night 2018 versus the Winston-Salem Dash at Five County Stadium. Individual game tickets for the 2018 season will go on sale on Monday, February 5. Currently, season ticket plans, group ticket packages and the latest Fishing License mini plans are all available now by visiting the Five County Stadium front office in Zebulon, by calling (919) 269-CATS (2287) and by visiting www.carolinamudcats.com/tickets.
The Carolina Mudcats are the proud Carolina League, Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. First established in 1991, the two-time Southern League Champion Mudcats are entering their 28th consecutive season of baseball at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, N.C. The 2018 season marks the first for the Mudcats under the ownership of the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.