LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – The Atlanta Braves announced today the Gwinnett Stripers’ coaching staff for the 2021 season. Matt Tuiasosopo has been named the seventh manager in Gwinnett history, and will be joined by pitching coach Mike Maroth (second season), hitting coach Carlos Mendez (first season), coach Wigberto Nevarez (first season),
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – The Atlanta Braves announced today the Gwinnett Stripers’ coaching staff for the 2021 season. Matt Tuiasosopo has been named the seventh manager in Gwinnett history, and will be joined by pitching coach Mike Maroth (second season), hitting coach Carlos Mendez (first season), coach Wigberto Nevarez (first season), athletic trainer T.J. Saunders (first season), and strength coach Paul Howey (second season).
Tuiasosopo and Nevarez, both promoted from Class-A Rome, are technically the only newcomers to the Stripers staff in 2021. Mendez and Saunders were slated to join Maroth and Howey as members of the Gwinnett coaching staff for 2020, but all four were instead assigned to the Braves Alternate Training Site at Coolray Field following the cancellation of the Minor League Baseball season.
Entering his second year as a manager in the Braves organization overall, the 34-year-old Tuiasosopo will be both the youngest manager in Gwinnett history and the first former Gwinnett player to manage the team. As an outfielder and first baseman with Gwinnett from 2016-17, he batted .221 with 19 home runs and 73 RBIs in 178 games.
Tuiasosopo spent 2020 as a key member of the Braves Alternate Training Site coaching staff after the shutdown of what would have been his second season managing Rome. He made his managerial debut with the R-Braves in 2019, earning Atlanta’s prestigious Bobby Cox Award for minor league manager of the year. Tuiasosopo enters 2021 with a career record of 65-74 in 139 games.
Selected by Seattle in the third round of the 2004 draft out of Woodinville (Wash.) High School, Tuiasosopo played a 14-year professional career in the Mariners (2004-11), New York Mets (2012), Detroit Tigers (2013), Toronto Blue Jays (2014), Chicago White Sox (2014-15) and Braves (2016-17) organizations before retiring in 2018. He saw Major League time in parts of five seasons, logging 155 games with Seattle (2008-10), Detroit (2013), and Atlanta (2016).
Maroth, 43, enters his second season as Gwinnett’s pitching coach and sixth year in the Braves organization. In 2019, his Stripers staff led the International League in ERA (4.29), WHIP (1.35), fewest runs allowed (641), fewest earned runs allowed (580), and fewest home runs allowed (134), helping the club capture the IL South Division title.
Maroth joined the Braves in September 2015 and served as the minor league pitching rehabilitation coordinator (2016-17) and Advanced-A Florida pitching coach (2018) before being elevated to Gwinnett in 2019. Prior to his time with Atlanta, the Orlando, Fla. native spent four seasons as a pitching coach in the Detroit Tigers organization, including stints with Advanced-A Lakeland (2012-14) and Triple-A Toledo (2015). Selected by the Boston Red Sox in the third round of the 1998 draft out of the University of Central Florida, Maroth went on to a 13-year professional career and spent parts of six seasons in the Majors with the Tigers (2002-07) and St. Louis Cardinals (2007).
Mendez, 46, enters his first season as Gwinnett’s hitting coach and 14th year in the Braves organization. Mendez has spent his entire coaching career in Atlanta’s system, serving as a hitting coach with seven different clubs including Rookie-level Danville (2008-10, 2014), Class-A Rome (2011-12), Rookie-level GCL Braves (2013), Advanced-A Lynchburg (2014), Advanced-A Carolina (2015-16), Advanced-A Florida (2017), and Double-A Mississippi (2018-19).
Prior to beginning his coaching career in 2008, Mendez batted .296 over a 16-year minor league playing career (1991-2007) as a first baseman and designated hitter with the Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, and Braves organizations. Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Royals in 1991, the Caracas, Venezuela native went on to reach the Majors for a 26-game stint with the Orioles in 2003. He played his final three seasons with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate in Richmond, Va., and was a key member of the Governors’ Cup championship club in 2007.
Nevarez, 29, enters his first season as a coach with Gwinnett and fourth year coaching in the Braves organization. Atlanta’s 20th-round pick out of Lubbock (Texas) Christian University in 2014, Nevarez played a four-year career as a catcher in the Braves’ minors, reaching as high as Advanced-A Florida in 2017. The San Juan, Puerto Rico native began his coaching career with the Gulf Coast League Braves in 2018 and joined Rome’s staff in 2019.
Saunders enters his first season as Gwinnett’s athletic trainer and fifth year in the Braves organization. He spent three years with Mississippi from 2017-19 and was named the Southern League Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2018. Prior to joining the Braves, he logged eight seasons with the Detroit Tigers organization (2009-16), including stints with the Rookie-level GCL Tigers (2009), Short-A Connecticut (2010), Class-A West Michigan (2011-13), and Double-A Erie (2014-16). In 2015, he was named Eastern League Athletic Trainer of the Year.
Howey enters his second season as Gwinnett’s strength coach and his fourth year in the Braves organization. He began his career with the Seattle Mariners, serving as the strength coach for Class-A Clinton for three seasons from 2015-17. Upon joining Atlanta in 2018, he was assigned to Double-A Mississippi, where he went on to be named the Southern League Strength Coach of the Year.
The Gwinnett Stripers open the 2021 season in the newly-formed Triple-A East League on Tuesday, May 4 at Charlotte. Opening Night at Coolray Field is set for Tuesday, May 11 at 7:05 p.m. vs. Louisville. Secure your 2021 tickets now by purchasing a Season Membership at GoStripers.com/memberships.