Rocket City Trash Pandas

Trash Pandas Announce 2024 Coaching Staff

February 16, 2024 - Southern League (SL)
Rocket City Trash Pandas News Release

MADISON, Alabama - The Rocket City Trash Pandas, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Angels, have announced their on-field coaching staff ahead of the 2024 season at Toyota Field.

The full coaching staff for the Trash Pandas includes:

-Manager: Andy Schatzley (3rd season in Rocket City)

-Coach: Dann Bilardello (3rd season)

-Pitching Coach: Michael Wuertz (4th season)

-Assistant Pitching Coach: Doug Henry (1st season)

-Hitting Coach: Joel Chimelis (1st season)

-Athletic Trainer: Dylan Culwell (1st season)

-Strength & Conditioning Coach: David Robertson (2nd season)

Schatzley enters his third season at the helm of the Trash Pandas, holding a 139-137 record through his first two years. During his tenure, 15 prospects he has managed in Rocket City have made their Major League debuts. Schatzley guided the team to the top of the Southern League standings in 2022, winning both first and second half North Division titles for the best record in the league. Following the season, he was named the 2022 Southern League Manager of the Year, becoming the first Trash Pandas manager to win the award. He debuted professionally with High-A Tri-City in 2021, and earned the 2021 Preston Gomez Award as the Angels Minor League Manager of the Year. In 2020, Schatzley was tabbed to manage the Rookie-Level Orem Owlz in his first professional season before the minor league season was cancelled. Schatzley joined the Angels after eight seasons in college baseball with Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.

Coach Dann Bilardello is back with an abundance of playing and coaching experience in his third season as part of the Angels organization. Playing mainly as a catcher from 1978-94, Bilardello hit .204 with 18 home runs and 91 RBI in 382 MLB games over eight seasons between the Cincinnati Reds (1983-85), Montreal Expos (1986), Pittsburgh Pirates (1989-90), and San Diego Padres (1991-92). During his career, Bilardello was a teammate of Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Andre Dawson, and Tony Gwynn.

After his playing career, Bilardello spent most of the past two decades as a Minor League manager, winning a Pioneer League Championship with the Great Falls Dodgers in 2002 in his debut season. Most recently, he managed High-A Palm Beach in the Cardinals' system, winning a Florida State League title in 2017 and being named the league's Manager of the Year in 2018.

The longest tenured member of the Trash Pandas staff, Pitching Coach Michael Wuertz is back for a fourth season in Rocket City. Under the direction of Wuertz, 10 former Trash Pandas pitchers made their MLB debut for the Angels over the past two seasons. The 2024 campaign will be Wuertz's seventh season in the Angels organization, having previously worked with High-A Inland Empire and Rookie-Level Orem.

As a player, he pitched for eight seasons between the Chicago Cubs (2004-08) and Oakland A's (2009-11), posting a 21-11 record and 11 saves with 444 strikeouts in 426 career relief outings. In 2009, he led all American League relievers with a career-high 102 strikeouts, becoming the third A's reliever after Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley to fan 100 in a season.

Joel Chimelis lands in Rocket City after spending 2023 as the hitting coach for the Salt Lake Bees, the Angels' Triple-A affiliate. He previously served as a Triple-A hitting coach in both Las Vegas and Syracuse since the 2018 season. Chimelis started his coaching career in 2004 as the hitting coach for the Savannah Sand Gnats and has also coached in the Houston Astros system, serving as manager for the 2012 Corpus Christi Hooks.

He had a 15-year professional playing career that began as an 11th round draft pick of the Oakland A's in 1988, which included a 1991 season as a member of the Huntsville Stars. Chimelis also enjoyed a successful overseas career playing seven seasons abroad for leagues in Mexico, China and Korea.

Doug Henry joins the Trash Pandas staff as Assistant Pitching Coach after spending the last three seasons with the Angels' High-A affiliate in Tri-City. The former big league pitcher played 11 seasons in the Majors between the Brewers, Mets, Giants, Astros, and Royals. He began his coaching career in 2004 at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and has since spent time with both the Braves and Royals organizations.

Strength and Conditioning Coach David Robertson returns to the Trash Pandas and the Angels organization for a second season after earning Northwest League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator of the Year honors in 2022 for High-A Hillsboro in the Arizona Diamondbacks system. Prior to his coaching career, Robertson spent five seasons as a professional baseball umpire from 2005-09, including a stint in the Southern League. He is also an Army Veteran.

Dylan Culwell will serve as the Athletic Trainer for the Trash Pandas following a two-year stint with the Tri-City Dust Devils. He was named as the 2022 Northwest League Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society.

Rounding out the Player Development staff will be Game Planning Strategist Max Mayfair and Video Assistant Michael Portela, plus 2023 Southern League Clubhouse Manager of the Year, Bubba Hearn.

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