Dragons Announce 2018 Coaching Staff
Dayton, Ohio - The Dayton Dragons announced their 2018 coaching staff today, as assigned by the Cincinnati Reds: Luis Bolivar-Manager, Seth Etherton-Pitching Coach, Kevin Mahar-Bench Coach and Daryle Ward-Hitting Coach.
Former Dragons infielder Luis Bolivar (BULL-uh-varr), will return for his second season as Dragons manager. Bolivar led the Dragons to their deepest playoff run in franchise history in 2017 when the Dragons came within one win of reaching the Midwest League Championship Series.
"We are excited to announce Luis Bolivar's return to Dayton and will look to build off of the success of 2017," said Jeff Graupe, Cincinnati Reds Director of Player Development. "Luis' competitive spirit and attention to detail are top notch and important traits for our overall development philosophy. His pride in the greater Dayton area is evident and will carry over to his players both on and off the field."
Bolivar became the first former Dragons player to serve as a coach for the franchise when he filled the role of Dragons hitting coach for three seasons from 2014-16. He is the ninth manager in Dragons history. Bolivar played for the Dragons in 2003-04 and represented the team in the 2004 Midwest League All-Star Game. He spent eight seasons as a player in the Reds organization, reaching the Triple-A level for his final three seasons. He closed out his playing career with one year in the Atlanta Braves organization in 2010.
Bolivar has resided in the Dayton suburb of Vandalia since his tenure as a Dragons player. He and his wife, Kelly have four children: Kamryn, Luisa, Zoey, and Enzo. Bolivar was born and raised in Venezuela before coming the United States as a Reds prospect in 2002. He became a U.S. citizen in 2017 in a legal ceremony that was attended by every player on the Dragons team.
Under Bolivar's direction in 2017, the Dragons qualified for the Midwest League playoffs by posting a record of 41-29 in the season's first half. Matched up against West Michigan in the first round of the MWL playoffs, the Dragons (71-69 over the full season) were a heavy underdog against the Whitecaps, who had produced a league-best full-season record of 91-45. But the Dragons won the series, two-games-to-one, to advance to the post-season semi-finals, where they extended the Fort Wayne TinCaps to a third and deciding game before Fort Wayne prevailed. It was the first time in Dragons history that they had reached the third game of a semi-final round playoff series.
Former Reds pitcher Seth Etherton will join the Dragons in 2018 as the team's new pitching coach. Etherton, who pitched one scoreless inning for the Dragons on a Major League injury rehabilitation assignment in 2002, served as the pitching coach for last two seasons with the Billings Mustangs, one level lower in the Reds system. Etherton was the Anaheim Angels first round draft pick in 1998 out of the University of Southern California. He spent parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues with the Angels, Reds, Athletics, and Royals in a big league career that was impacted by shoulder surgery in 2001. Etherton made 23 MLB starts and posted a career record of 9-7. He started seven games for the Reds in 2003.
As the pitching coach at Billings in 2016-17, Etherton assisted in the development of several pitchers who eventually advanced or will advance to the Dragons. In 2016, he worked with a Billings staff that featured Scott Moss, Tony Santillan, and Wennington Romero, all of whom became 2017 Midwest League all-stars with the Dragons. In 2017 at Billings, he worked with Reds first round pick Hunter Greene. The Billings staff finished second in the Pioneer League in team earned run average in both years of Etherton's tutelage. Etherton is a native of Laguna Beach, California.
Kevin Mahar (muh-HARR) returns to the Dragons for his second season as bench coach in 2018. He previously worked in the Reds organization as a hitting coach from 2013-15, coaching the hitters at Billings for two seasons before spending a year with Daytona. Mahar, a former outfielder/first baseman, played professionally for seven seasons and reached the big leagues with the Texas Rangers in 2007. He was signed by the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in 2004 out of Indiana University and completed his playing career in 2010 in the Phillies organization. Mahar was selected as a California League full-season all-star in 2005 with Bakersfield when he batted .315 with 17 home runs. Mahar grew up in Midland, Michigan, home of the Midwest League's Great Lakes Loons. He currently resides in Jasper, Indiana.
Daryle Ward returns to the Dragons for his second season as hitting coach and his third year in the Reds organization. He served as the hitting coach for the AZL Reds in Goodyear, Arizona in 2016. In 2017 with the Dragons, Ward worked closely with Dragons all-star outfielder Jose Siri, who enjoyed one of the finest years in Dragons history and led the Midwest League in six major categories. Ward also worked closely in the development of star prospects Taylor Trammell and Tyler Stephenson as well as Midwest League all-stars T.J. Friedl and Michael Beltre.
Ward, the son of two-time Major League All-Star Gary Ward, enjoyed an 11-year big league playing career as a first baseman/left fielder, playing for six different clubs. He made his Major League debut in 1998 with the Houston Astros and also played for the Dodgers, Pirates, Nationals, Braves, and Cubs. Ward belted a career-high 20 home runs for the Astros in 2000. Ward transitioned into one of the top pinch hitters in baseball in the later years of his career. He led all of baseball in pinch hits and runs batted in as a pinch hitter in 2006 while finishing tied for first in pinch hit home runs. Following the completion of his Major League career in 2008, Ward spent parts of the next seven years as player in the independent Atlantic League before retiring at the age of 40 following the 2015 season. Ward played in 948 Major League games while his total number of games played in all of professional baseball was 2,318 over a 22-year career. Ward is a native of the Los Angeles area and now makes his off-season home in Riverside, California.
The 2018 Dragons field staff will also include trainer Andrew Cleves and strength/conditioning coach Trey Strickland.
The Dragons 19th Opening Night is set for Saturday, April 7 against the Bowling Green Hot Rods at 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field. The Dragons will open their Midwest League season two nights earlier, on April 5 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
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