The Washington Nationals on Monday announced the management staff of their minor league affiliates, including the Auburn Doubledays.
Longtime minor league manager Ralph “Rocket” Wheeler moves from the Rome Braves in the South Atlantic League to Falcon Park.
Wheeler was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1977 and played in the Jays’ farm system until 1982. He managed and coached several teams in the Jays’ minor league system from 1985 through 2002.
He’s familiar with Auburn, having spent time as the batting coach with the Syracuse Chiefs from 1990-1993.
Wheeler joined the Atlanta Braves organization after being released by the Blue Jays in 2002. Doubledays GM Adam Winslow calls Rocket an old-school manager who is in touch with today’s young players.
The Houston native will be formally introduced when the Doubledays hold the team’s annual hot stove dinner on January 31.
Wheeler’s staff was also announced on Monday. Pitching coach Franklin Bravo and hitting coach Mark Harris are both returning. Kirby Craft will be the athletic trainer, while Ryan Grose has been named as the new strength and conditioning coach.