ZEBULON, N.C. - The Milwaukee Brewers today released Minor League coaching and training staffs and announced that Joe Ayrault will once again return as manager of the Carolina Mudcats for the 2020 season. Ayrault is Carolina's all-time winningest manager and is back for his fourth consecutive season with the Mudcats.
ZEBULON, N.C. - The Milwaukee Brewers today released Minor League coaching and training staffs and announced that Joe Ayrault will once again return as manager of the Carolina Mudcats for the 2020 season. Ayrault is Carolina's all-time winningest manager and is back for his fourth consecutive season with the Mudcats. Ayrault will lead an entirely new coaching staff with pitching coach Nick Childs, hitting coach Bobby Spain, coach David Tufo and development coach Michael O'Neal all additionally joining the Mudcats this season.
Like Ayrault, the Brewers additionally announced that both athletic trainer Matt Deal and strength and conditioning specialist Jonah Mergen will also return to the Mudcats for the 2020 season. Childs, Spain and Tufo, however, are all in their first seasons as coaches with the Mudcats. O'Neal is also in his first season as a coach, but returns to Carolina after pitching for the then-Atlanta Braves affiliated Mudcats during the 2016 season.
"We're really excited to see Joe back as our manager once again this season," said Joe Kremer, Mudcats Vice President and General Manager. "We saw him make history last season while becoming our organization's all-time wins leader and we can't wait to see him lead our club once again during our 30th anniversary season."
Ayrault, 48, has led the Mudcats to a 203-212 (.489) record over the last three seasons, and is 500-591 (.458) over eight seasons overall as manager of Milwaukee's Class-A Advanced affiliate. He previously managed Milwaukee's Class-A Advanced club, the Brevard County Manatees of the Florida State League from 2012 through 2016 before transferring with the Brewers to the Mudcats and the Carolina League in 2017.
Ayrault's 203 managerial victories are the most on Carolina's all-time managerial wins list. He is also tied for the most games managed in team history having totaled 415 games as skipper in Carolina; tying him with current Cincinnati Reds Manager David Bell who managed the Mudcats from 2009 through 2011.
A native of Rochester, MI, Ayrault is entering his 11th consecutive season as a manager in Milwaukee's farm system overall and 14th consecutive season as a manager in Minor League Baseball. He began his managerial career in the Cincinnati Reds organization in 2007 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; reaching the majors with Atlanta in 1996.
Spain is Carolina's new hitting coach for the 2020 season and makes the jump to the Mudcats from the rookie level Arizona League where he served in the same role for the Brewers Blue squad last season. The 34-year-old Spain takes over in Carolina for former hitting coach Bobby Bell. Spain originally joined the Brewers after working as the hitting coach for the independent American Association's Gary SouthShore Railcats from 2016 through 2018. A native of Colorado Springs, Colo., Spain played four seasons of professional baseball including three seasons in the Pirates system from 2007 through 2009 (2007 State College Spikes, 2008 Hickory Crawdads, 2009 West Virginia Power) before finishing his playing career with the Frontier League's Traverse City Beach Bums in 2010.
Childs joins the Mudcats as the club's new pitching coach, taking over for Cam Castro who was promoted to Milwaukee's roving coaching staff as pitching coordinator after one season with Carolina in 2019. A native of Cherry Creek, Colo., Childs most recently worked at the University of Northern Colorado where he was the Associate Head Baseball Coach, Pitching Coach and Recruiting Coordinator for the UNC Bears in 2019. The 32-year-old Childs has additionally coached at Regis University (Pitching Coach 2017-2018), the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (Pitching Coach and Lead Assistant) and Colorado State University (Pitching Coach 2011-2013 and Head Coach 2013-2014). Childs earned his Master's degree in Sports Administration from the University of Northern Colorado. He is in his first season with the Mudcats and first in the Brewers system.
Tufo, like Childs, is also entering his first season with both the Mudcats and Brewers as he becomes Carolina's new coach for the 2020 season. The 33-year-old Tufo takes over for previous Carolina coach Fidel Peña, who will now manage the Dominican Summer League Brewers/Blue Jays team in 2020. Tufo comes to the Milwaukee organization from the University of Portland where he served as the program's volunteer assistant coach since the 2016 season. Before his time with Portland, Tufo also spent two years as the associate head coach at Menlo College from 2014 through 2016. A native of San Bruno, Calif., Tufo also served as the director of baseball operations at Santa Clara University from 2013 through 2014, head coach of the Forest City Owls in 2013, head coach of the Fayetteville SwampDogs in 2014 and his initial stint with Menlo as assistant coach from 2010 through 2013. Tufo earned his Bachelor's of Arts in Economics from Willamette University in Salem, Ore., and holds a Master's of Science in Recreation and Sport Sciences from Ohio University.
O'Neal is entering his first season as a development coach in the Brewers system, but is coincidentally returning to Carolina after pitching for the then-Atlanta Braves affiliated Mudcats during the 2016 season. A native of Columbus, Ga., O'Neal appeared in 27 games with the Mudcats in 2016 while totaling 36 strikeouts and 16 walks over 41.0 innings pitched. O'Neal also reached Double-A that same season after appearing in two games with the Mississippi Braves. His professional playing career also included stops with the Florence Freedom (Frontier League) in 2014, the Gateway Grizzlies (Frontier League) in 2015 and both the Fargo-Morehead Redhawks (American Association) and Rockland Boulders (Can-Am League) in 2017. The 27-year-old O'Neal was most recently a volunteer assistant with the baseball program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville before joining the Brewers and Mudcats. He has also worked as a pitching trainer at Driveline Baseball in Kent, Wash., a pitching coach at both Pacelli High School (Columbus, Georgia) and Yorktown High School (Yorktown Heights, New York). O'Neal pitched at Auburn University and graduated with a Bachelor's in Exercise Science in 2014.
Deal is in his second year with the Mudcats and his sixth as a team athletic trainer in the Milwaukee system. A native of Evergreen Park, IL, Deal graduated from Marquette University with a degree in Athletic Training in 2015. He was originally hired by the Brewers in 2015 and spent his first season in the organization with the Dominican Summer League Brewers before joining the Arizona League Brewers in 2016 and the Pioneer League's Helena Brewers in 2017.
Mergen begins his fourth straight year with the Mudcats and tenth season overall in the Milwaukee organization, all of which with the club's Class-A Advanced club. A native of McFarland, WI, Mergen has also worked with the Greeneville Astros and in the strength and conditioning departments at NC State University, UW-La Crosse and the National Strength and Conditioning Association World Headquarters. He first graduated from St. Ambrose University with a dual degree in exercise science and Spanish in 2007, before receiving his master's from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in human performance in 2009.
The Mudcats will celebrate 30 years of baseball in North Carolina when they begin the upcoming 2020 season by hosting the Winston-Salem Dash on Thursday, April 9 at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, NC. Season ticket packages, group ticket packages and the latest mini plans for the upcoming 2020 season are all available now by visiting the Five County Stadium front office in Zebulon, by calling (919) 269-CATS (2287) and by visiting carolinamudcats.com.
About the Carolina Mudcats
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 30th consecutive season of baseball at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, N.C. The Mudcats are owned and operated by the Milwaukee Brewers.