Rumble Ponies Announce Coaching StaffThe newly-minted Binghamton Rumble Ponies are proud to announce Luis Rojas will serve as the team’s manager for the 2017 season. Rojas will be joined by pitching coach Glenn Abbott, hitting coach Luis Natera, athletic trainer Bob Grimes and new strength and conditioning coach Kory Wan. Rojas and his staff will kick off the Rumble Ponies’ inaugural season on April 6.
Rojas takes the wheel of the Rumble Ponies after steering the ship for the St. Lucie Mets (High-A) for the previous two seasons. The Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic native went a combined 142-131 across his two years in the Florida State League. Rojas led the Mets to the postseason in 2016 by winning the South Division second half title.
Following a four-year stint as a coach in the Mets system, Rojas made his managerial debut in the organization with the GCL Mets (R) in 2011. Rojas led the Savannah Sand Gnats (Low-A) from 2012 to 2014, a three-year stretch that included a South Atlantic League Championship in 2013.
Rojas played seven seasons in the Minor League systems of the Baltimore Orioles, Florida Marlins and Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals from 1999 to 2005.
The new Rumblers skipper is currently managing the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. He led Escogido to the DWL title last winter.
Rojas replaces Pedro Lopez, the all-time winningest manager in franchise history. After a five-year stint in the Southern Tier that included three postseason berths, an Eastern League title and his induction into Binghamton’s baseball shrine, Lopez will manage the Las Vegas 51’s (AAA) in 2017.
Abbott returns to the Southern Tier for his sixth year as the Binghamton pitching coach. In 2016, eight players that pitched for Abbott in Binghamton made their Major League debuts. Michael Fulmer, a member of Abbott’s pitching staff in 2014 and 2015, was named the American League Rookie of the Year with the Detroit Tigers.
Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 8th round in 1969, Abbott spent 11 seasons in the Major Leagues as a starting pitcher for the A’s (1973-76), Seattle Mariners (1977-83) and Detroit Tigers (1983-84). Abbott compiled a 62-83 record and amassed a 4.39 ERA in 248 career games (206 starts). On September 28, 1975, he combined with Vida Blue, Paul Linblad and Rollie Fingers in the first four-pitcher no-hitter in MLB history.
This season marks Natera’s 26th with the Mets organization and tenth in the Southern Tier. Under Natera’s watch, Phillip Evans highlighted Binghamton’s offense in 2016 by winning the Eastern League batting title with a .335 batting average.
He has served as a hitting coach at five different levels during that time, including stints with Buffalo (AAA, 2009), St. Lucie (High-A, 2007), Hagerstown (Low-A, 2005-06), Kingsport (Rookie, 2003-04), and Capital City (Low-A, 1999).
Natera served in his native country as coordinator of the Mets’ Dominican Academy in 2001 and 2002. He managed the Dominican Mets (Rookie) in 2002 and skippered the DSL Mets from 1992-1997.
Grimes returns for his second season as the team’s athletic trainer and 29th season overall in professional baseball. Before joining the Mets in 2016, he spent 27 years in the Chicago Cubs organization.
Kory Wan joins the Rumble Ponies after spending last season in the same capacity with St. Lucie. The 2017 season will be his fourth in the Mets system. A 2013 graduate of St. Leo University, Wan has spent time with the Kingsport Mets (R) and Savannah Sand Gnats (Low-A).
Be sure to follow the Rumble Ponies on Facebook (facebook.com/RumblePonies) on Twitter (@RumblePoniesBB), and at the team’s official website (BingRP.com) for more team information.
The Rumble Ponies open the 2017 season on the road in New Hampshire on April 6 before celebrating their home opener at NYSEG Stadium on April 13. Tickets for the 2017 season are on sale now.