Pitching coach Rigo Beltran and athletic trainer Bobby Ruiz will return to Lynchburg in the same role for the 2017 season, while former Hillcat player Tony Mansolino will manage the squad. They will be joined by hitting coach Kevin Howard. The Indians will announce the team's strength and conditioning coach at a later date.
Mansolino played for the Hillcats in 2007 and 2008, logging 136 games during that time. The 26th-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates reached as high as Double-A before retiring in 2010. After his playing career ended, the Vanderbilt product immediately joined the Cleveland Indians player development staff as a hitting coach in short-season Mahoning Valley. He served as a hitting coach at four different levels within the organization, including Double-A Akron in 2015 before making his managerial debut with the Low-A Lake County Captains last year. Mansolino led the Captains to a 72-68 record in that one season.
Beltran became the Hillcats pitching coach midway through the 2015 campaign before serving in that capacity for the entire 2016 season. Beltran also coached in Lynchburg in 2010 for the lone season the Hillcats were affiliated with the Reds. A 26th-round draft pick in 1991, Beltran pitched in the Major Leagues between 1997 and 2004 for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Montreal Expos. Beltran is entering his third season as a coach in the Indians system after seven years as a coach for the Cincinnati Reds' farm teams.
Howard played 12 professional seasons after being drafted in the fifth round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2002. He posted a career .284 average with 93 home runs in 1,059 games in the Minors. Howard spent parts of five seasons at the Triple-A level, including 2009 when he hit .326 with 40 extra-base hits in 91 games with Las Vegas. Howard began his professional coaching career last year as the hitting coach for Mahoning Valley.
Ruiz enters his seventh season in the Indians system and his fourth in the Carolina League after being the athletic trainer for the Carolina Mudcats in 2014 before the affiliate moved to Lynchburg.
After leading the team to the playoffs in both of his seasons in Lynchburg and being named the 2016 Carolina League Manager of the Year, Mark Budzinski will manage Double-A Akron in 2017. Meanwhile, last year's hitting coach Larry Day has been assigned to manage the Lake County Captains.
Season tickets and book ticket packages are on sale now. Individual game tickets, featuring $6 general admission, will go on sale soon. The Hillcats begin the 2017 season at home in a rematch of the 2016 Mills Cup Championship Series. Lynchburg will host the Myrtle Beach Pelicans Thursday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m. The Hillcats have made the playoffs a franchise-record five straight seasons.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.