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Phillies Announce 2024 IronPigs Coaching Staff

Anthony Contreras returns to manage the IronPigs for a third season
February 5, 2024

Allentown, Pennsylvania (February 5, 2024) – The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Phillies, have announced their coaching staff for the 2024 season. Anthony Contreras (Manager) returns to manage the IronPigs for a third consecutive season alongside fellow returnees Joe Thurston (Hitting Coach, 3rd Season), Ryan Buchter (Pitching

Allentown, Pennsylvania (February 5, 2024) – The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Phillies, have announced their coaching staff for the 2024 season.

Anthony Contreras (Manager) returns to manage the IronPigs for a third consecutive season alongside fellow returnees Joe Thurston (Hitting Coach, 3rd Season), Ryan Buchter (Pitching Coach, 2nd Season), Andrew Dodgson (Athletic Trainer, 2nd Season), Makenna Behrens (Assistant Athletic Trainer, 2nd Season), and Mike Lidge (Strength & Conditioning Coach, 5th Season). Tyler Higgins (Pitching Coach) and Chris Adamson (Bench Coach) will each be coming to Allentown for their first season on the IronPigs coaching staff in 2024.

Anthony Contreras, Manager

Contreras begins his third season at the helm of the IronPigs. Contreras guided Lehigh Valley to an 80-66 record in 2022, the first 80-win season for the ballclub since 2018 and second consecutive winning season (first time since 2017-’18). Through his two years as manager, Contreras has accumulated a record of 156-138. Contreras oversaw a group that contributed greatly to the 2023 Phillies as well, as 16 different IronPigs were promoted to Philadelphia at various points of the season and three players (Orion Kerkering, McKinley Moore, Weston Wilson) made their Major League debuts. Prior to his arrival with the IronPigs in 2022, the Los Gatos, California native spent the previous seven seasons as a manager within the San Diego Padres minor league system. In his playing days, Contreras was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the ninth round of the 2005 MLB Draft out of San Jose State. Contreras spent his first three seasons in the Giants system before joining the Padres organization for six years, advancing as high as Triple-A in 2010 (Portland) and Tucson (2011-‘13). He finished his playing career with a .257 batting average, 177 doubles, 22 home runs, and 281 RBIs in 729 games.

Joe Thurston, Hitting Coach

Thurston resumes his role as hitting coach for the IronPigs for a third consecutive summer. Thurston oversaw one of the most potent offensive groups in the International League in 2023 as the squad set franchise records in: Homers (213), runs scored (857), stolen bases (180), walks (697), OBP (.360), SLG (.462), and OPS (.822). The Fairfield, California native played for the Phillies during the 2006 season and spent time in the Phillies minor league system during the 2007 and 2012 seasons, playing for the IronPigs during the 2012 season. Prior to 2022, Thurston spent four seasons with the Seattle Mariners organization, serving as hitting coach for the hitting coach for the Arkansas Travelers (AA) in 2021, First Base Coach for the Mariners in 2020, hitting coach for Everett (Short-Season A) in 2019, and hitting coach for Modesto (High-A) in 2017 and 2018. Before joining the Seattle organization, Thurston spent one year as a coach in the Cincinnati Red Organization. His 16-year (1999-2015) playing career spanned parts of seven seasons in the big leagues with the Dodgers, Phillies, Red Sox, Cardinals, and Marlins.

Ryan Buchter, Pitching Coach

After serving as Assistant Pitching and Bullpen Coach with the IronPigs in 2023, Buchter returns to the IronPigs in 2024 to lead the pitching staff. 2023 was Buchter’s first coaching post after a seven-year Major League career that saw him pitch for six different teams. He pitched two seasons for San Diego and Oakland, while pitching one season each with Arizona, Kansas City, Los Angeles (AL), and Atlanta, making his Major League debut with the Braves in 2014. Buchter spent 14 seasons in the minor leagues, where he pitched for nine different organizations. Buchter appeared in 285 Major League games, going 17-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 259 strikeouts.

Tyler Higgins, Pitching Coach

Higgins begins his coaching career after a 12-year playing career which saw him reach as high as Triple-A stateside in addition to playing internationally in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes. Now transitioning into a coaching career, Higgins’ first coaching post is as a pitching coach with the IronPigs. Higgins was drafted twice, once in the 47th round (did not sign) by the Texas Rangers in 2009 and then in the 23rd by the then Florida Marlins in 2011 where he signed. Higgins played 12 professional seasons, reaching Triple-A for the first time with Tacoma in 2018 and again with El Paso in 2018, 2019, and 2022. Higgins played in Japan for the Orix Buffaloes from 2020-2021, going 4-5 with a 2.46 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 87.2 innings. Over the course of his minor league career, Higgins posted a 19-24 record and 3.85 ERA, accumulating 423 innings and 369 strikeouts.

Chris Adamson, Bench Coach

Adamson joins to Triple-A Lehigh Valley as bench coach, the same role he filled in 2023 with High-A Jersey Shore. This will be Adamson’s fourth season in the Phillies organization as a coach. He was slated to manage the BlueClaws in 2020 before the cancellation of the MiLB before managing the team in 2021. He then skippered the FCL Phillies in 2022 and then returned to Jersey Shore in 2023 serving as bench coach. Born in Sydney, New South Wales Australia, Adamson played collegiately at Angelo State from 2008-2010 and then professionally for the Adelaide Bite of the Australian Baseball League from 2011-2015, totaling 123 games. He pulled double duty during his final two seasons as a catcher and bench coach for the club before he transitioned to fulltime bench coach during the 2016-2017 season. He was promoted to manager of the Bite in 2017-2018 and still retains that role through the 2023-2024 ABL season.

Andrew Dodgson, Athletic Trainer

Dodgson begins his sixth season as an athletic trainer in the Phillies organization and second season with the IronPigs. Prior to joining the IronPigs in 2023, Dodgson spent the 2022 season with the Reading Fightin Phils (AA) and previously was with Jersey Shore in 2020 and 2021. Dodgson’s first two seasons with the Phillies organization was in 2018 and 2019 with the Gulf Coast League Phillies (Rk). Dodgson has degrees in athletic training from the University of South Florida and sports management from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Makenna Behrens, Assistant Athletic Trainer

Behrens returns as the IronPigs assistant athletic trainer for a second consecutive season. Behrens served as an athletic trainer at the University of Tennessee in 2021 and has her master’s degree in athletic training from the University of Idaho.

Mike Lidge, Strength & Conditioning Coach

Lidge will be joining the IronPigs for his fifth season in Allentown. Lidge has served as the IronPigs strength & conditioning coach in 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023. 2024 Marks the eighth season for Lidge in the Phillies organization after spending four years (2013-2016) with the San Francisco Giants. Previously, Lidge has served as the Strength and Conditioning Coach with Reading (AA, 2018) and Clearwater (A, 2017). Lidge received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign before receiving a Master of Science in Exercise Science from Northeastern Illinois University.

2024 Lehigh Valley IronPigs Coaching Staff

Manager: Anthony Contreras

Hitting Coach: Joe Thurston

Pitching Coach: Ryan Buchter

Pitching Coach: Tyler Higgins

Bench Coach: Chris Adamson

Athletic Trainer: Andrew Dodgson

Assistant Athletic Trainer: Makenna Behrens

Strength & Conditioning Coach: Mike Lidge

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The IronPigs are presented by Capital Blue Cross.