The San Diego Padres announced the Fort Wayne TinCaps coaching staff for the 2021 season. The parent organization made the announcement March 30.
Anthony Contreras will be back as the team’s manager alongside returning hitting coach Jonathan Mathews. Meanwhile, former major leaguer Jimmy Jones is set to serve as the team’s new pitching coach. Fielding coach Felipe Blanco, athletic trainer Nick Coberly, and strength coach Corey Measner are also set for their first season in Fort Wayne in those respective roles.
Contreras previously managed the TinCaps from 2016-2019 while the club competed at the Low-A level. He was set to manage the team again in 2020 before the season was lost amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a win-win for me,” said Contreras. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to continue working with TinCaps President Mike Nutter and his staff, while also excited to be back at beautiful Parkview Field helping another group of young men achieve their dreams of making it to the major leagues.”
In January, the TinCaps signed a new Player Development License with the Padres to become their High-A affiliate. The partnership between the two organizations, which began in 1999, is set to continue through the 2030 season. Fort Wayne had originally played at the Low-A level since joining Minor League Baseball in 1993.
“As we begin a new era of TinCaps baseball at the High-A level, we’re elated to have Anthony and Jonathan back with us,” Nutter said. “We’re also thrilled to have Jimmy, Felipe, Nick, and Corey with us for what’s sure to be a very special season.”
The 37-year-old Contreras is already the longest-tenured and winningest manager in Fort Wayne’s franchise history. He’s led the TinCaps to 256 regular season victories, plus a run to the Midwest League Championship Series in 2017. More importantly, over those four seasons, Contreras has helped develop 27 players who’ve reached the big leagues, including Fernando Tatis Jr. in 2017. Contreras also managed several other future major leaguers in 2014 with the rookie-level Arizona League Padres and in ’15 with the Padres-affiliated short-season-A Tri-City Dust Devils.
As a player himself, Contreras had a nine-year career in the minors from 2005-13. Of the 795 games he played in, 135 came at the High-A level between the San Jose Giants (San Francisco Giants) in 2005 and ’07, and the Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego Padres) in 2013.
Mathews, 49, was the TinCaps’ hitting coach in 2018 and ’19. Like Contreras, he was assigned to Fort Wayne in 2020, too. The Iowa native’s résumé features a season as a big-league coach with the Padres in 2017. He’s also been a High-A hitting coach for the Fort Myers Miracle (Minnesota Twins) in 1997 and the Visalia Rawhide (Arizona Diamondbacks) in 2015.
Jones, 56, may be new to Fort Wayne, but he’s no stranger to the Padres. Back in 1982, Jones was drafted out of high school by San Diego with the third overall pick in the MLB Draft. The right-hander pitched in the majors for the Padres from 1986-88. His big league career continued with the Yankees, Astros, and Expos through 1993. He also pitched for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan from 1994-95. Over his eight MLB seasons, Jones appeared in 153 games, making 118 starts. He’s now in his 13th season as a coach with the Padres. After two campaigns as a rookie-level pitching coach for the Arizona League Padres from 2009-10, Jones has primarily coached at the Double-A level since with the San Antonio Missions and Amarillo Sod Poodles. In 2012, he was San Diego’s major league bullpen coach on an interim basis.
Blanco, 27, is set to follow Contreras as the second player in franchise history to go from playing for Fort Wayne to becoming an official member of the team’s coaching staff. Blanco played seven seasons in San Diego’s farm system from 2011-17. That included 66 games as an infielder with the TinCaps in 2015. Notably in that time, Blanco had a pair of walk-off hits for the ’Caps at Parkview Field. Otherwise, along the way in his career, the native of the Dominican Republic also played in 61 games at the High-A level with Lake Elsinore in 2015 and ’16. Similar to Contreras, after a career that reached Triple-A, Blanco began coaching for the Padres as soon as his playing days were over. In 2019, Blanco was High-A Lake Elsinore’s fielding coach.
Coberly, who’s from Ohio, had been assigned to Fort Wayne in 2020. The Wright State and Ohio State alum has been with the Padres since November 2017. In 2019, he worked with Double-A Amarillo.
Measner, who’s from Wisconsin, has been with the Padres since February 2017 after working as a strength coach at Notre Dame. The alumnus of the University of Minnesota and Minnesota-Twin Cities spent the 2018 and ’19 seasons with short-season Tri-City. He had been assigned to Lake Elsinore for 2020.
Contreras and company are scheduled to begin their 120-game High-A Central season on Tuesday, May 4 (7:05 p.m.), at Parkview Field against the West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers affiliate). That will mark not only Fort Wayne’s first ever game as a High-A affiliate, but also be the first TinCaps game since Labor Day 2019.
Season tickets and group tickets are currently on sale. Single game tickets will go on sale in mid-April. In the meantime, fans can be “First in Line” for the upcoming season by purchasing an undated ticket, along with a cardboard cutout, and a donation to a local non-profit organization. Fans can learn more at TinCaps.com and by following @TinCaps on social media.