PEARL, MS -- In conjunction with the Atlanta Braves, the Mississippi Braves announced its 2017 field staff earlier today. Manager Luis Salazar returns to the Double-A Braves for his second season leading the Mississippi club. He'll be joined by two new members to the field staff: pitching coach Derrick Lewis and hitting coach Ivan Cruz. Kyle Damschroder also returns as the Double-A Braves trainer.
Salazar led the 2016 Double-A Braves to the Southern League Playoffs for the fourth time in M-Braves history. With an overall record of 73-65, the Braves entered the post-season via the wild card and claimed the South Division Title, falling just short of the Southern League Championship. Salazar joined the Braves organization in 2011 and managed the High-A club for five seasons at Lynchburg (2011-14) and Carolina (2015) before joining the M-Braves. 2017 will be Salazar's 14th season as a minor league manager. He has a career managerial record of 711-756. A native of Venezuela, Salazar followed seven minor league playing seasons with 13 years in the big leagues including stints with the San Diego Padres (1980-84, 87, 89), Chicago White Sox (1985-86), Detroit Tigers (1988) and Chicago Cubs (1989-92). He hit .261 with 94 home runs and 455 RBI over the course of his career.
Lewis moves up to the Double-A club after spending the past three seasons (2014-16) as pitching coach with the Braves High-A affiliate. 2017 will be Lewis' 14th season in the Braves organization. He joined the Braves organization in 2004 and spent four seasons with the GCL Braves (2004-07), three with the Danville club (2008-10) and three at Low-A Rome (2011-13). Lewis was selected by the Braves in the 20th round of the 1997 draft. He spent six years (1997-2003) in the Braves system before joining the Braves coaching staff in 2004.
Cruz joins the Mississippi Braves for his first season with the Double-A Braves in 2017 after spending the previous three campaigns at Rookie-Danville (2014-16). It'll be his fourth season in the Braves organization and his 22nd season in professional baseball. Cruz spent four seasons with the Padres (2010-13) and managed the 2010 Arizona League Padres. A native of Puerto Rico, Cruz was selected by Detroit in the 28th round of the 1989 draft. He spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues with the Yankees (1997), Pirates (1999-2000) and Cardinals (2002).
Damschroder enters his second season with the M-Braves and his seventh season in the Braves organization. Before joining the Double-A Braves last season, he spent three years at Low-A Rome (2013-15) and served two seasons as the trainer at Rookie-Danville (2011-12).
The Mississippi Braves open the 2017 season at Trustmark Park Thursday, April 6 against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Season tickets and mini plans are on sale now. Businesses looking for unique ways to advertise should explore opportunities with the M-Braves. For more information, call 888-BRAVES4 or stop by the M-Braves Front Office Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM.