A new manager will lead the Marauders on their quest to repeat as Florida State League champions. Gera Alvarez will manage the Pirates’ Class A Advanced affiliate for the 2017 season, the organization announced Friday in a press release.
Alvarez is one of three new Bradenton coaches the Pittsburgh organization announced. Keoni De Renne will serve as the Marauders’ hitting coach and Matt Ford will be Bradenton’s new pitching coach.
Alvarez becomes the Marauders’ sixth manager after spending the last three seasons in the Dominican Republic as the Pirates’ Dominican Republic Academy coordinator. He also managed the Dominican Summer League Pirates, a rookie league club, from 2012-14.
Alvarez’s promotion comes with the departure of Michael Ryan, who managed Bradenton for the past two seasons. Ryan was promoted to take the same job with Double A Altoona after guiding the Marauders to their first FSL title in September. Hitting coach Kevin Riggs, who returns for his third season in Altoona, and new pitching coach Bryan Hickerson round out Ryan’s staff.
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Ryan Long, who was the hitting coach at McKechnie Field over the summer, will serve in the same position with Class A West Virginia. Jeff Johnson, who was Bradenton’s pitching coach in 2016, is not listed among Pittsburgh minor league coaches.
“It’s such an honor to lead the Curve this year,” said Ryan, who is a native of Indiana, Pa., which is about an hour away from Altoona. “It’s personal to me, to be so close to home and to be around family and friends. It’s absolutely amazing. It’s something that I’m very proud of, and truly honored that I get to be around my sons and my wife a lot more this year.”
The Gulf Coast League Pirates, a short-season rookie league affiliate based out of Pirate City, also has two new coaches. Bob Herold will serve as the new manager and Austin McClune will be the new hitting coach. Elvin Nina will reprise his role as the GCL Pirates’ pitching coach.
Earlier this fall, the Pirates also hired a new director of Florida and Dominican Republic operations. Jeff Podobnik, who previously served as Pittsburgh’s director of security and contract services at PNC Park, was hired to replace Trevor Gooby, who left to take a job with the Mariners in Seattle.
Alvarez’s baseball career traces back to Lubbock, Texas, where he set and still holds a Texas Tech record by hitting safely in 30 consecutive games. He was a 16th-round pick by the Orioles in 2002 and spent six seasons with in Baltimore’s minor league system. He also spent one season with the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball after leaving the O’s.
De Renne and Ford will bring Pirates ties to Florida. De Renne is the great grandson of Wilbur Cooper, the winningest pitcher in franchise history. Ford made his final MLB appearance at PNC in Pittsburgh as a pitcher for the Brewers.
The Marauders will begin their FSL title defense April 6 against the Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte. Their home schedule begins two days later on April 8 against Charlotte in Bradenton.