FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- After leading the TinCaps to the Midwest League Championship Series in 2017, the majority of the team's coaching staff, including manager Anthony Contreras and pitching coach Burt Hooton, will be back in Fort Wayne in 2018. The San Diego Padres, the TinCaps' parent club, announced their full-season affiliate coaching staffs on Thursday.
Contreras, who enters his third campaign as the skipper in Fort Wayne, and Hooton, who's returning to the Summit City for a sixth season, will be joined in the dugout for a second straight year by fielding coach Jhonny Carvajal and athletic trainer Allyse Kramer, as well as first-year hitting coach Jonathan Mathews and new strength coach Sam Hoffman.
"I'm excited to return to Fort Wayne and build off the success we had last season," Contreras said. "We're looking forward to developing another group of highly talented prospects."
The 34-year-old manager will be only the third in Fort Wayne's history to lead the team for three seasons. He's set to join just Doug Dascenzo (2007-09) and Randy Ready (2004-06). Both Dascenzo and Ready have since coached in the major leagues.
With the youngest roster in the Midwest League in 2017 (one that included three players as young as 17), the TinCaps had their biggest ever turnaround from the first half of the season (26-44) to the second half (42-28) when they earned a playoff spot. The team overcame injuries and player promotions to claim the Midwest League Eastern Division championship, the organization's third in its 25-year history.
Hooton, who will be 68 on opening day, was already the longest-tenured coach the franchise has ever had. No one else has served on the team's staff for more than four seasons. Under Hooton's guidance in 2017, TinCaps pitchers set a Midwest League record for strikeouts in a season (1,307).
"The Padres are very excited about the 2018 TinCaps season," said Sam Geaney, San Diego's fourth-year Director of Player Development. "Following up on the success of '17, we're looking forward to sending a youthful and talented group of players to Parkview Field to be developed by this staff into future Padres."
San Diego's farm system is regarded as one of the best in baseball (most recently ranked No. 3 by MLB.com). The next batch of elite prospects expected to come through Fort Wayne in 2018 includes left-handed starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore , who was the No. 3 overall pick in last year's MLB Draft.
"It will be an absolute pleasure to work with Anthony again," said TinCaps President Mike Nutter. "He's a tremendous leader and communicator, and someone I'm fortunate to call a friend. Likewise, Burt and his wife Ginger have become great friends and Burt's credentials speak for themselves. We're also thrilled to have Jhonny and Allyse return, and can't wait to work with Jonathan and Sam, and for them to witness the amazing support we have from our fans."
Carvajal was particularly instrumental in the development of the team's young infielders in 2017. Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. , who was just 18, set a franchise record for home runs in a season (21) as he rose to become one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Hudson Potts , who was also 18, led third baseman in the league in fielding percentage (.962) and hit 20 homers of his own.
Kramer, Fort Wayne's first female athletic trainer, helped keep the team impressively healthy for most of the season. When injuries to starting first baseman Brad Zunica and catcher Marcus Greene Jr. arose in August, both were able to return in time for the playoffs.
From last year's staff, hitting coach Doug Banks and strength coach Jay Young have both been assigned to San Diego's Advanced-A affiliate, the Lake Elsinore Storm.
Meanwhile, Mathews and Hoffman may be new to the TinCaps but are no strangers to the Padres or the Midwest.
Mathews was on San Diego's big league staff in 2017 as a coach who worked with the team's outfielders. The Iowa native was previously a coach in the Arizona Diamondbacks' farm system. For the D-Backs, Mathews served as a hitting coach for the Midwest League's Kane County Cougars in 2016 and South Bend in '14.
Hoffman, who's from Wisconsin, was the strength coach for the Padres' Short-Season A affiliate, the Tri-City Dust Devils, last year.
This new group of coaches won't have their roster finalized by the Padres until the close of spring training at the end of March.
Fort Wayne is scheduled to begin its 20th season of affiliation with San Diego on Thursday, April 5, at Lake County. The TinCaps will kick off their 10th season at Parkview Field with opening day set for Saturday, April 7 (6:05 p.m.) against Lake County.
Season tickets and tickets for group outings are currently on sale, while single-game tickets are set to go on sale February 21. For more information, fans can visit TinCaps.com or call 260-482-6400.
2018 Fort Wayne TinCaps Coaching Staff
Manager: Anthony Contreras
Pitching Coach: Burt Hooton
Hitting Coach: Jonathan Mathews
Fielding Coach: Jhonny Carvajal
Athletic Trainer: Allyse Kramer
Strength Coach: Sam Hoffman
More notes on the 2018 TinCaps Coaching Staff
- Contreras: The only former Fort Wayne player to return to the team as manager… Played for the Wizards in 2008… An infielder, drafted by the San Francisco Giants out of San José State in 2005 (9th round)… Played in San Francisco's organization from 2005-2007 and then in the San Diego Padres' organization from 2008-13, reaching as high as Triple-A… Began coaching career in 2014 and became manager of the Rookie-Level Arizona League Padres… Managed the Short-Season A Tri-City Dust Devils to the Northwest League Finals in 2015…
- Hooton: Pitching Coach for the TinCaps since the 2013 season… This will be his 43rd year in professional baseball… Second overall pick of the 1971 Draft out of the University of Texas at Austin… Selected by the Chicago Cubs… Pitched for the Cubs (1971-75), Los Angeles Dodgers (1975-84), and Texas Rangers (1985)… National League All-Star, MVP of the National League Championship Series, and World Series champion in 1981… Threw a no-hitter for the Cubs against the Philadelphia Phillies in his fourth career start on April 16, 1972… Known for his knuckle curve pitch… After finishing playing career, completed degree at Texas, then began coaching career in 1988… Has coached at every level from Short-Season A through the big leagues… Pitching coach for the Houston Astros from 2000-04… Past pupils include Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Billy Wagner, Dallas Keuchel, and Dinelson Lamet… Has been in uniform for more than 6,300 games across his career in MLB, MiLB, and NCAA
- Mathews: In between stints in the Midwest League, was the Diamondbacks' Advanced-A hitting coach with the Visalia Rawhide in 2015… Served as a coach for the Baltimore Orioles' Class A Delmarva Shorebirds in 2013… Spent 14 years as an assistant coach at Indian Hills Junior College in Ottumwa, Iowa (1999-2012), where he also taught economics… Part-time coach at the University of Iowa from 1995-96…. Earned a master's in athletic administration at Iowa in 2000…. Was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 42nd round of the 1994 MLB Draft…. Played for Colorado's Arizona League affiliate and Short-Season A affiliate in '94
- Carvajal: Infield Coach for the Dominican Summer League Padres in 2016… Native of Venezuela… Played primarily second base, third base, and shortstop in Minor League Baseball from 1993-2003, reaching as high as Triple-A… Played for the Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos, Arizona Diamondbacks, and San Francisco Giants' organizations… Also played professionally in Italy as recently as 2011
- Kramer: Spent 2016 with San Diego's Short-Season A affiliate, the Tri-City Dust Devils... California native… Earned bachelor's degree from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego… Earned a master's degree from the University of Texas at Austin and worked on the Longhorns' sports medicine staff
- Hoffman: Previously worked in the Milwaukee Brewers' organization from 2015-16… Earned a bachelor's degree from Marquette and a master's in exercise physiology at Northern Michigan University
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.