PEARL, MS - The Mississippi Braves are proud to announce that athletic trainer, T.J. Saunders has been named the Southern League Athletic Trainer of the Year for the 2018 season. The PBATS' Minor League Athletic Trainers of the Year Awards are presented annually to one athletic trainer of each of the 16 leagues in Minor League Baseball, as well as one award for the Dominican Summer League. The awards are voted on by fellow peers.
Mark O'Neil, President of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) had this to say, in regards to the annual awards, "these athletic trainers have had such a huge impact on their organizations, at all different levels. To win an award voted on by your peers is a true honor. I hope that all of these extremely talented athletic trainers take a few minutes to step back and truly appreciate how great of an achievement this is. Overall, this is extremely well-deserved by all winners."
"It is an honor to be selected as the Athletic Trainer of the Year. There are excellent Athletic Trainers working with each team in this league, and to have them select me as the Athletic Trainer of the Year is a great honor. I am proud of and thankful for this award they have bestowed upon me," Saunders said.
O'Neil went on to say, "I couldn't be happier to award these great athletic trainers for their hard work. The Minor League athletic trainers across baseball do an important job that often can go less noticed. None of us at the Major League level would be able to do our jobs without the hard work throughout all of our entire organizations. And this starts in the Minor Leagues. These winners are the future of MLB athletic training and we know the game is in great hands."
Saunders, 44, began his athletic training career in professional baseball in 2002 as trainer with the Canton Coyotes in the independent Frontier League. From 2003-2009, Sunders spent his time working as a staff athletic trainer at the Appalachian Therapy Center in Knoxville, TN (2003-2007) and as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at the University of Tennessee (2007-2009). Saunders returned to professional baseball in 2009 as the trainer for the Gulf Coast League Tigers and went on to spend the next eight years with various affiliates of the Detroit Tigers organization. Saunders time with the organization was highlighted by being named Eastern League Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2015 as the athletic trainer for the Detroit Tigers Double-A affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves.
Saunders joined the Atlanta Braves organization in 2017 as the athletic trainer for the Mississippi Braves (Double-A Affiliate of the Atlanta Braves). Saunders graduated from Florida State University in 2001 where he earned a bachelor's degree in sports medicine. He earned his master's degree in exercise physiology from the University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN) in 2009. Saunders is a certified athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist, and has been a member of NATA since 2001 and NSCA since 2004. Saunders is also a member of the Southeast Athletic Trainers Association and the Tennessee Athletic Trainers Society. Saunders currently resides in Lakeland, FL during the off-season.
The Mississippi Braves are the Double-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Since the inaugural 2005 season, over 125 M-Braves have gone on to Major League Baseball. The M-Braves have made postseason play four times and went on to win the Southern League Championship in 2008. Stop by Trustmark Park or call 888-BRAVES4 Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For the latest news and updates, visit mississippibraves.com or connect with @mbraves on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.