MIDLAND, Mich. - John Shoemaker's two seasons with the Great Lakes Loons in 2011 and 2012 endeared him to fans and the surrounding community. "Shoe" will make his return to Dow Diamond in 2018 as the team's manager, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced Monday. It will be his 42nd season in the Los Angeles organization and 25th season as a minor league manager.
"The Dodgers and the Loons have had a great 11-year relationship with a lot of exciting baseball players and baseball games," Shoemaker said. "I'm looking forward to returning to the Midwest League for the 2018 season. Midland has a great fan base and the beautiful Dow Diamond, along with a terrific front office staff. Every player who goes to the Loons is always really excited about the facilities that are there."
Shoemaker spent last season with the Rookie-level AZL Dodgers. Drafted by the Dodgers in the 35th round of the 1977 draft, the 61-year-old has been with the club ever since, as a player (1977-80), manager, coach and coordinator. During his two seasons in the Loons' dugout, Shoemaker compiled a 139-140 (.498) record before he was appointed the Dodgers' "Captain" of Player Development in 2015.
Back for a second stint as the team's pitching coach will be Bobby Cuellar. After helping the Loons win their first Midwest League Championship in franchise history in 2016, the veteran coach spent last year in Utah with the Ogden Raptors. It will be Cuellar's fourth season with the Dodgers organization.
Jair Fernandez will be entering his third season with the Dodgers organization and his second with the Loons as the team's hitting coach. Seth Conner is set to begin his first year coaching with the Dodgers and will serve as the team's assistant coach. The 25-year-old Missouri native played five minor league seasons as a first baseman where he appeared in 187 games and batted .244 over his career.
In 2017 under the guidance of manager Jeremy Rodriguez , the Loons finished one game under .500 at 69-70. Rodriguez was the youngest manager in franchise history at 27 years old. While the former catcher won't be back in Midland in 2018, he will remain with the Dodgers organization as the manager of the Ogden Raptors in the Pioneer League.
The Dodgers also announced the other managers for their minor league affiliates today: Bill Haselman at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Scott Hennessey at Double-A Tulsa, Drew Saylor at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, Rodriguez at Rookie-advanced Ogden and Mark Kertenian with the Rookie-level Arizona League Dodgers.
A number of former Loons managers and coaches will work with other Dodgers minor league affiliates during the upcoming season: Haselman (Triple-A manager), Bill Simas (Triple-A pitching coach), Luis Matos (Triple-A coach), Connor McGuinness (Single-A pitching coach), Rodriguez (Rookie-level manager), Fumimasa Ishibashi (Rookie-level coach).
The Great Lakes Loons have been the Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the team's inception in 2007. Dow Diamond serves as the team's home and also houses the Michigan Baseball Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, and ESPN 100.9-FM. For tickets or information about the Loons, call 989-837-BALL or visit Loons.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.