With the start of the 2017 season just weeks away, the Milwaukee Brewers announced Thursday that Rick Sweet will return for his third season as manager of the Sky Sox for the 2017 season. Also returning to Sweet's coaching staff for their third season in Colorado Springs will be pitching coach Fred Dabney, athletic trainer Aaron Hoback and strength & conditioning coach Andrew Emmick. New to this year's staff will be coaches Al LeBoeuf and Ned Yost IV.
"The Sky Sox are thrilled to welcome manager Rick Sweet back to Colorado Springs as we begin our third season as the top affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers," said Sky Sox President and General Manager Tony Ensor. "As one of the game's winningest minor league managers, Sweet has brought tremendous leadership, experience and a familiarity with the Pacific Coast League to the Sky Sox over his first two seasons with the team. In addition, he's brought tremendous leadership to our clubhouse and has been a positive force in the community. In Fred Dabney, we're excited to bring back a tremendous coach with a proven track record in the Brewers organization. Aaron Hoback and Andrew Emmick also return as part of the best medical staff in professional baseball. The additions of Al LeBoeuf and Ned Yost IV will help us build on a successful 2016 season that saw us rank second in the PCL with 41 home wins and a second-place finish in the PCL American Northern division. This is an exciting day for our fans and we're looking forward to a great season in 2017," added Ensor.
Sweet, 64, became the 15th manager in Sky Sox history in 2015 as the Sky Sox compiled a record of 62-81. In 2016, he led the Sky Sox to a second-place finish in the PCL American North Division with a record of 67-71. The Sky Sox were especially dangerous at home as they compiled a record of 41-27 at Security Service Field and led all of professional baseball with 16 wins when trailing after six innings. The 2017 season will be his fourth in the Brewers organization after leading Triple-A Nashville to a record of 77-67 in 2014. Sweet spent the previous nine seasons in the Reds organization as manager of the Louisville Bats (2005-11) and as the Reds' catching coordinator (2012-13).
The 2017 season marks his 27th year as a minor-league manager, a managerial career that dates back to 1987. As one of the most successful managers in the game, he owns a 1,794-1739 (.508) career record while his 1,794 wins rank fourth-most among active minor league managers entering the upcoming season.
During Sweet's stint in Louisville from 2005-11, he became the franchise's all-time winningest manager with a 539-465 (.537) record. From 2008-10 his Bats won three straight International League West Division championships. He was named International League Manager of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and was Baseball America's 2010 Triple-A Manager of the Year. He was also recognized as Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year in 1994 while with Triple-A Tucson.
Sweet is a three-time Triple-A All-Star Game manager, having received the honor twice in the PCL with Tucson (1993) and Portland (2003), as well as with Louisville in the IL in 2009.
"I'm extremely excited to return to Colorado Springs as the manager of the Sky Sox," said Sweet. "Our staff and players have enjoyed playing in front of the great fans at Security Service Field the past two years and we're gearing up for a tremendous 2017 season. The Brewers organization is working diligently to make this a great year and our team should be right in the thick of it as we look to build off of a strong season in 2016."
Sweet previously managed in the Seattle (1987-88), Houston (1989-95), New York - NL (1997), Montreal (1998, 2000), San Diego (2001-03) and Detroit (2004) minor league systems. He also served with the Astros as first base coach in 1996 and with the Expos as field coordinator from 1999-2000.
The former catcher had a nine-year playing career (1975-83) including three seasons in the majors with San Diego (1978), New York - NL (1982) and Seattle (1982-83). Following his playing days, Sweet became bullpen catcher for the Mariners (1984) and then spent the next two years as an advanced scout with Seattle (1985-86).
Fred Dabney, 49, begins his third season as pitching coach for the Sky Sox and 14th overall season with the Brewers. He joined the organization as pitching coach at Class-A Huntsville in 2004, spent seven seasons in the same capacity at Brevard County from 2005-11 and spent three seasons with Triple-A Nashville as their pitching coach from 2012-14. During the 2010 season, Dabney served as interim bullpen coach for the Brewers from April 23 to May 23. He took the place of Stan Kyles, who underwent surgery in April. Prior to joining the Brewers, Dabney spent five seasons as a pitching coach in the Texas Rangers organization with the Rookie GCL Rangers (1999), Class-A Savannah (2000), Class-A Charlotte (2001-02) and Class-A Stockton (2003). While with Charlotte, he coached in the Florida State League All-Star Game both seasons. His staff posted a league-best 3.40 ERA in 2002 and ranked third with a 3.37 ERA in 2001.
Dabney played nine minor league seasons as a pitcher with Chicago-AL (1988-93), Cleveland (1994) and Chicago-NL (1995-96) and finished his career in Taiwan (1997). He was originally chosen by the White Sox in the 15th round of the 1988 draft after attending Seminole (OK) Junior College.
Al LeBoeuf, 56, enters his first season with the Sky Sox and eighth with the Brewers organization. Previously he served as a coach with the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers during the 2016 season, spent the 2014-15 seasons as a hitting advisor for the Brewers at the team's Maryvale complex, spent the 2013 season as a player development scout, was a coach for Triple-A Nashville in 2012 and a coach with Double-A Huntsville from 2010-11.
Entering his 28th year of coaching in the minor leagues, LeBoeuf began his career in 1989 in the Phillies organization (1989-2000). He earned Manager of the Year honors in 1996 with Class-A Clearwater and in 1997 with Double-A Reading. He served as hitting coach in the Mets organization in 2006 and was with the Blue Jays organization for three seasons from 2007-09. Prior to his coaching career, LeBoeuf was selected by the Phillies in the 28th round of the 1981 draft and spent eight seasons in their minor-league system.
Ned Yost IV, 34, begins his 10th season as a coach with the Brewers and his first with the Sky Sox. He previously spent five seasons as a coach with Class-A Brevard County from 2012-16, spent three seasons with Rookie Helena from 2009-11 and was an assistant coach with Helena in 2008.
Yost played in the Brewers system as an infielder for three seasons from 2005-07 after he was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2005. He is the son of current Kansas City Royals manager, Ned Yost.
Aaron Hoback enters his 11th season as an athletic trainer in the Brewers organization and his third with the Sky Sox. He previously served in the same capacity with Triple-A Nashville (2013-14), Double-A Huntsville (2010-12), Class-A Wisconsin (2009) and Rookie Level Helena (2007-08).
Andrew Emmick begins his third season with the Sky Sox and enters his ninth year with the Brewers organization. He served in the same role for Triple-A Nashville from 2010-2014 and Double-A Huntsville in 2009. Prior to joining the Brewers, Emmick spent three seasons in the Angels organization as strength and conditioning coach with Class-A Cedar Rapids (2006), Rookie level Tempe (2007) and Triple-A Salt Lake (2008).
The 30th season of Sky Sox Baseball begins April 6, 2017. For information about the Sky Sox and the 2017 season at Security Service Field, please call (719) 597-1449 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the latest Sky Sox news on Facebook or follow the team on Twitter at @skysox.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.