K-Mets Announce 2017 Coaching Staff

Rivera returns for this season as Kingsport's skipper.

By Eric Cain / Kingsport Mets | April 25, 2017 12:49 PM ET

KINGSPORT, Tenn.- The Kingsport Mets released the 2017 coaching staff Tuesday afternoon that featured the return of Luis Rivera as manager and Ender Chavez as hitting coach while also welcoming Josue Matos, Daichi Arima, Robert Hillard and Brian Kownacki for their K-Mets coaching debuts.

Kingsport, the Appalachian League advanced-rookie affiliate of the New York Mets, brings back Rivera for his third tour of duty managing the K-Mets. Over the course of his first two seasons at the helm, the skipper produced a 67-69 win-loss record with an Appalachian League West Divisional Championship in 2015.

A part of the Mets organization since the 2010 season, Rivera served as the hitting coach for the Eastern League Champion Binghamton Mets (AA) in 2014 following a similar role in Kingsport in 2011. Sandwiched in between the two roles, Rivera served as the short-season hitting coordinator for the Mets lower-tier affiliates from 2012-2014.

As a player, Rivera was a minor league middle infielder for the Mets and Chicago Cubs organizations from 2005-2010 while peaking in the International League with the Buffalo Bisons, the former Mets AAA affiliate, in 2009. 

The manager will be reunited with a familiar face in hitting coach Ender Chavez as the former Pioneer League MVP comes back for his second season in Kingsport. During the 2016 campaign, Chavez mentored a unit that ranked fourth in average (.262.) and total hits (589) in the Appalachian League while also striking out the third-fewest times (513) throughout the year.

Prior to coaching in the Appalachian League, Chavez performed the same role for the Gulf Coast League Mets (R) from 2013-2015. During 2011-2012 seasons, the instructor served as the hitting coach for the Dominican Summer League Mets (R) after playing seven seasons of minor league baseball for the Colorado Rockies, Mets and Montreal Expos organizations.

As a player in the Mets organization, Chavez helped St. Lucie (A+) take home the Florida State League crown in 2002, while also playing and coaching in the Venezuelan League throughout his baseball career.

Beginning his first year in the Appalachian League, Josue Matos takes over as pitching coach in 2017 as former K-Mets instructor and Major League pitcher, Royce Ring, received the promotion to Brooklyn (Short-Season A) prior to the season. Matos enters his second season a part of the Mets organization as he spent the 2016 campaign with the GCL Mets.

During 2015-2016, the coach served as the assistant pitching coach for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rico Winter League and was also the pitching coach at Interamerican University in Puerto Rico from 2010-2013. Matos competed in the first two World Baseball Classic tournaments as a pitcher in 2006 and 2009 for Puerto Rico. 

The new Kingsport Mets pitching coach played in the minor leagues for the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies organizations from 1997-2005 while making it as high as Triple-A. From 2006-2011, Matos pitched in the Mexican League, Venezuelan and Puerto Rico Winter Leagues, Independent Atlantic League, United Baseball League and the Can-Am Association.

Daichi Arima takes over the role as the club's athletic trainer as 2016 K-Mets trainer, Giovanni D'Onza, will fulfill the same role in Brooklyn during the 2017 campaign. Arima enters his third season in the Mets Organization after spending a season in both the GCL and DSL in 2015-16. After receiving a Bachelor's degree in athletic training from the University of Nevada, Arima interned with the Pittsburg Pirates in the Dominican Republic during the 2013 season.   

Another addition to the 2017 coaching staff is reserved for mental skills coach Robert Hilliard who enters his first season in the Mets organization. Hilliard currently works as a student sport psychology consultant at West Virginia University after performing the same role for Ball State University from 2014-2015.

Hilliard graduated from Kalamazoo College with a psychology degree in 2013 and received a master's degree in physical education and sport psychology from Ball State in 2015.

Kingsport's final coaching staff member for the upcoming campaign is Brian Kownacki, who will serve as the club's strength and conditioning coach. Kownacki enters his first year in the Mets organization after graduating from Fordham University in 2013 with a Business Administration degree. Following the Bachelor's in Arts, Kownacki picked up a master's degree in exercise science from Southern CT State University.

As an undergraduate, the 2017 K-Mets strength and conditioning coach was a student-athlete for the Rams as Kownacki tallied a career batting average of .268 with 15 home runs and 115 RBIs in four years. Originally from Orange, Conn., Kownacki makes his home in Jupiter, Fla. during the offseason.

For more information regarding the 2017 Kingsport Mets, visit the clubs website at kmets.com.  

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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