DUNEDIN, FL- The Dunedin Blue Jays have announced their on-field coaching staff for the 2017 season with an announcement on the team's pitching coach to come soon. John Schneider will manage the Blue Jays in 2017, moving up from the same position with the Lansing Lugnuts, Toronto's Class-A affiliate. Hitting Coach Corey Hart returns for his second season with Dunedin looking to build off a successful 2016 that saw the Blue Jays offense finish as one of the most prolific scoring teams in the Florida State League. Coach Michel Abreu will bring a wealth of professional baseball experience to the Dunedin dugout staff. Ryan Maedel will serve as the team's strength coach and Shawn McDermott will return as the team's athletic trainer.
2017 will be John Schneider's ninth season managing a Blue Jays affiliate and first with Dunedin. After a six-year playing career in the Toronto system during which he reached as high as the AAA-level as a catcher, Schneider retired in 2007 and became a catching instructor for the organization. He served as a hitting coach for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in 2008 before being named their manager in 2009. After two seasons in the GCL, he became the youngest manager of the Vancouver Canadians in franchise history in 2011, leading the team to the Northwest League championship. He returned to manage the GCL Blue Jays in 2012-2013, spent the 2014-2015 seasons with Vancouver, and eclipsed 250 career Minor League victories in 2016 with the Lansing Lugnuts.
Schneider takes the place of 2016 manager Ken Huckaby, who led Dunedin to the second half FSL North Division championship in 2016 and a 76-59 overall record. Huckaby will continue to coach in the Blue Jays system in 2017.
Following a strong 2016 season that saw the Blue Jays offense finish second in the FSL in runs scored, triples, home runs, and runs batted in, hitting coach Corey Hart returns for his second season with Dunedin. A veteran of eight minor league seasons as a player, Hart coached in the Brewers organization from 2006-2009 and with Marlins affiliates from 2010-2015 before joining Dunedin in 2016.
Mark Riggins joins the Dunedin coaching staff in 2017, bringing an extensive resume of coaching experience to the Blue Jays organization. Riggins first began coaching in 1984, ascending through the St. Louis Cardinals minor league affiliates before being named their Major League pitching coach for the 1995 season. From 1996-2007, he was the Cardinals minor league pitching coordinator. He took the same position with the Chicago Cubs from 2008-2010 and served as the Cubs Major League pitching coach in 2011. From 2012-2015, he was the minor league pitching coordinator for the Cincinatti Reds and was named their Major League pitching coach to begin the 2016 season.
Coach Michel Abreu will begin his professional coaching career in the Dunedin dugout this season following a 13-year playing career in the minor leagues and foreign leagues. An accomplished hitter, Abreu won the 2006 Eastern League (AA) batting championship, the 2009 Puerto Rican League MVP, the 2012 Mexican League batting title, and the 2013 Japanese Pacific League homerun crown.
The Blue Jays open the 2017 on the road against the Clearwater Threshers on Thursday, April 6th. Their first home game is Saturday, April 8th against Clearwater at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin. For more information, please contact Daniel Venn at (727) 733-9302 or through e-mail at Daniel.Venn@BlueJays.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.