MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The Atlanta Braves have announced that the Myrtle Beach Pelicans coaching staff will remain intact for the 2008 season, with manager Rocket Wheeler at the helm for a third consecutive season. Also returning are longtime pitching coach Bruce Dal Canton, who will mark a decade on the Grand Strand, and hitting coach Rick Albert who returns for a second season with the Pelicans. The trio will be joined by first-year trainer Greg Hall.
Wheeler has guided the Pelicans to an overall record of 131-148 in his two seasons as manager, including a 59-80 record in 2007. Wheeler's 2006 Pelicans posted the third best record in the Carolina League (72-68) and posted franchise records for highest team batting average (.257), most walks drawn (484), most stolen bases (152), most sacrifice bunts/flies (87), most wins in one-run games (34), and most wins in extra-inning games (11).
"As an organization, we are extremely fortunate to have Rocket, Bruce and Rick returning to guide the Pelicans in 2008," said Pelicans general manager North Johnson. "Not only are they great ambassadors of the game on the field, their interaction with our fans in the community and ongoing relationship with the Pelicans' front office creates one of the truly special situations in all of baseball."
Prior to his role with the Pelicans, Wheeler spent three seasons as the manager of the Rome Braves, the Braves' Class A entrant in the South Atlantic League. Wheeler's Braves claimed at least 70 wins in each of his three seasons, and captured the SAL title in 2003. Following his final season in Rome in 2005, Rocket was added to the Braves Major League coaching staff, where he served on the bench through the postseason. Before coming to the Braves, Rocket spent 26 years as either a player, coach or manager with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Rocket played college baseball at the University of Houston where he majored in Health and Physical Education. In 1977, after his playing days as a Cougar, he was selected in the 13th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. In January of 2006 he was inducted into the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. As a player for the Kinston Eagles in 1979 he played nearly every position.
Dal Canton has been a staple in the Pelicans' dugout, serving as the only pitching coach the franchise has had in its nine-year existence. 2008 will mark Dal Canton's 10th year with the Pelicans, and 41st overall season in professional baseball. "DC" as he is affectionately known in Myrtle Beach, has guided more than 30 pitchers to the Major Leagues in his nine years with the club.
Dal Canton has been a fixture in the Braves organization since joining the club as a roving minor league instructor in 1982. His 25 years of service included a four-year stint -- 1987-1990 -- as the pitching coach in Atlanta. Prior to joining Myrtle Beach in 1999, Dal Canton worked with the Danville 97's (Class A) in the same capacity. He served as pitching coach with the Greenville Braves (Double-A) from 1994-97, which included a Southern League Championship in 1997. Dal Canton, 60, was pitching coach for the Richmond Braves from 1991-1993. He served the same role in Savannah (Class A) in 1983, Greenville (Double-A) in 1984 and Richmond (Triple-A) from 1985-86.
Over a 12-year Major League career beginning in 1967, Dal Canton compiled a 51-49 record as a spot-starter with the Pirates, Royals, Braves and White Sox. Dal Canton attended California University of Pennsylvania and West Virginia University, earning a B.S. degree in Education and a master's in Biology. Bruce and his wife, Helene, reside in Carnegie, Pa.
Albert returns to Myrtle Beach for his second season in 2008. Under Albert's leadership, the Pelicans boasted a .255 team batting average in 2007, just two points off the franchise record of 257 which was set in 2006. Prior to his joining the Pelicans, Albert spent four seasons as the hitting coach for the Richmond Braves (Triple-A). In 2005, Albert led the Braves to the second-highest batting average in the league (.280).
Before his arrival in Richmond, Albert served five years as the manager for the Gulf Coast League Braves. In 2000 Albert was tabbed as the Manager of the Year in the GCL. The 53-year-old, who hails from West Seneca, N.Y., has been a player, coach or manager within the Braves system since 1972. His previous managerial stops include Burlington (1988), Anderson (1983-84) and Pulaski (1982). Albert was a coach for Richmond (1987, 2003-06), Durham (1994), Eugene (1996), Bradenton (1978-81, 1989-91) and the Gulf Coast League (1992-93, 1995).
Hall joins the Pelicans staff for his first season in 2008, after serving in the same capacity with Rome (Class A) in 2007. Hall takes over for Ricky Alcantara, who has been promoted to the same position with the Mississippi Braves (Double-A).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.