Pitching Coach: Tom Browning
Hitting Coach: Alex Pelaez
DAYTON, OH —The Dayton Dragons announced their 2012 coaching staff today, as assigned by the Cincinnati Reds.
Manager Delino DeShields, who guided the Dragons to a franchise-record 83 victories in 2011, will return for his second season in Dayton. Hitting coach Alex Pelaez, who helped the offense to a franchise record highest team batting average of .264 in 2011, also returns for his second season. Tom Browning, a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall-of-Fame, will join the Dragons as pitching coach. Tyler Steele will return for his fourth season as athletic trainer.
DeShields led the Dragons to a record of 83-57 and a second half Eastern Division title in 2011. The Dragons improved dramatically over the course of the season, finishing the first half at 35-35 before posting a 48-32 record in the second half. Their second half mark was the best in a half in Dragons history and the top second half record in 2011 in all of Minor League Baseball among teams playing a split-season format. DeShields will enter his fourth season in the Reds organization in 2012. He served as manager of the Billings Mustangs in 2010 and was the hitting coach at Billings in 2009.
As a player, DeShields spent 13 years in the Major Leagues with the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, and Chicago Cubs. He finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting with the Expos in 1990. His best season came in 1997 with the Cardinals when he batted .295 with 11 home runs, 55 stolen bases, and a league-leading 14 triples. DeShields finished in the top three in the league in stolen bases six times during his career (10 times in the top eight) and ranks among the top 50 all-time in career stolen bases with 463. He batted .290 or higher in five different seasons of his big league career.
Pelaez joined the Dragons in 2011 and contributed to an offense that led the Midwest League in team batting average and runs scored. He was instrumental in the improvement of Dragons all-star shortstop Billy Hamilton, who batted .318 in the second half after finishing the first half at .233. First baseman Donald Lutz also emerged as a force in the lineup, batting .340 with 11 home runs and 45 runs batted in during the second half and finishing as only the second player in Dragons history to hit .300 or higher with at least 20 home runs. Dragons second baseman Ronald Torreyes hit .356 under Pelaez’s tutelage in 2011 while third baseman David Vidal hit .280 with 20 home runs.
Browning is a legendary name in Reds history. Best known for firing a perfect game vs. the Dodgers on September 16, 1988, Browning spent 12 years in the major leagues from 1984-‘95, with 300 of his 302 career appearances coming with the Reds. His best season came in 1985 when he posted a record of 20-9 to become the first rookie in 31 years to win 20 games. In 1988, Browning went 18-5 for the Reds, finishing second in the National League in winning percentage. He was the starting and winning pitcher for the Reds in game three of the 1990 World Series against the Oakland A’s, helping the Reds to a four-game sweep. That same post-season, he had also started and won game two of the N.L. Championship Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Browning represented the Reds in the 1991 all-star game. His 298 starts with the Reds are the most for any Cincinnati pitcher over the last 70 years and fourth most in club history. He was elected to the Reds hall-of-fame in 2006.
Browning finished his career with 123 victories and won at least 14 games six times in a seven-year period from 1985-’91, but he is remembered above all else for the only perfect game in Reds history when he retired all 27 Dodgers he faced in a 1-0 win. At the time, it was only the third perfect game of at least nine innings in modern National League history. No Reds pitcher has thrown a no-hitter since that night, 23 years ago.
Browning, like former Dragons manager Todd Benzinger, also played a role in one of the most unique games in baseball history. On August 3, 1989, Browning batted twice in the Reds 14-run first inning against Houston. He delivered the final hit of the inning, one of 16 hits in the frame for the Reds, the most for a big league club in an inning since 1900.
The 2012 season will be Browning’s sixth as a pitching coach in the Reds organization. He has served as pitching coach with the Arizona League Reds in Goodyear, Arizona over the last two seasons.
Browning replaces Tony Fossas as Dragons pitching coach. Fossas will serve as pitching coach with the Reds Rookie-level affiliate, the Billings Mustangs, in 2012 after spending three seasons in Dayton. The 2011 Dragons staff established a club record with a 3.39 team earned run average.
The Dragons will open their 13th season in the Midwest League on April 5, 2012 against the West Michigan Whitecaps at Fifth Third Field.