Prince, Hessman return to coach Toledo Mud Hens

It was with much excitement that The Toledo Mud Hens, Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, announced the coaching staff for the 19th season of baseball at Fifth Third Field. 

At the helm is Tom Prince. Prince, 56, was set to lead the team in 2020, but the season was canceled due to the pandemic. Instead, both he and Mike Hessman were among a group of nine coaches that oversaw the Tigers alternate training location in Toledo.

Hessman also returns in 2021 as hitting coach.  New to the lineup to serve as pitching coach is Doug Bochtler, replacing Juan Nieves who has been named to the Tigers’ staff.  Rounding out the coaching staff are C.J. Wamsley, developmental coach; Jason Schwartzman, athletic trainer; and Dan Morrison, strength and conditioning coach.

Prince, a Kankakee, Illinois native spent three seasons as the Major League bench coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, after serving as the club’s Minor League Field Coordinator in 2016. In total, Prince spent 26 seasons in the Pirates organization and is entering his 38th working in professional baseball.  Prince had a 17-year Major League career as a catcher with five different teams between 1987-2003.

Hessman enters his sixth year as a hitting coach in the Tigers organization, his third with the Mud Hens. Hessman holds the all-time record for Minor League and International League home runs, hitting a total of 433 home runs during his minor league career between 1996 and 2015. A member of the Mud Hens’ back-to-back Governors Cup Championship teams in 2005 and 2006, Hessman was inducted into the International League Hall of Fame in 2018.

Bochtler joins the Mud Hens following five seasons with the San Diego Padres as a coach.  He served as bullpen coach from 2016-2019 and was slated to be the pitching coach for their High A Fort Wayne Tin Caps during the 2020 season. He was drafted in the 9th round by the Montreal Expos in 1989.  

During his 15-year career as a relief pitcher, he played for 10 different organization including six seasons in the Major League for four different teams, including the Padres (1995-1997), Detroit Tigers (1998), Los Angeles Dodgers (1999), and the Kansas City Royals (2000). Detroit Tigers Vice President of Player Development Dave Littlefield said the addition of Bochtler fit in well with the Detroit program. Littlefield hosted a zoom call with media on Tuesday to discuss the coaching hires.

“It’s kind of in unison with some of the staff changes on the Major League side. Obviously, with new people that you are dealing with, being in the industry for quite a while and getting to know other people, including some of our Major League guys in the past, it was good to have the network set up,” Littlefield said. 

“Even though I knew of Doug, but I didn’t know of him personally, I know (new Tigers manager) A.J. Hinch had worked with him in the past and some others. He’d been a Tiger as a player and had been familiar with a bunch of people, including (Tigers roving pitching instructor) A.J. Sager as well. We did what we normally do — we interviewed a few people and felt strongly that Doug would be a good fit with his experience having been a Major League pitcher and a coach in the past with San Diego. We’re very happy to have him accept our offer.”

This is Wamsley’s second season as developmental coach, having joined the Tigers organization for the 2020 season.  Prior to that, Wamsley spent six seasons as an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for the Ohio University baseball program.

Handling athletic training duties is Jason Schwartzman, who enters his eighth season with the Tigers organization, and Dan Morrison returns to his role as strength and conditioning coach.

At Detroit, Kimera Bartee was hired as the outfield and base running coordinator. Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 14th round of the 1993 MLB Draft, Bartee made his Major League debut with the Detroit Tigers on April 3, 1996, and appeared in his final game on August 3, 2001. Since, he has been a coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies.

“It was a very important hire because we had a guy here in Gene Roof who was here for 35 years and was an incredible staff member in so many ways, team player and very detailed-oriteted regarding getting along with the players and fundamentals,” Littlefield said. “He’s done a lot of good work in the past, so we spent some time looking around, and obviously when you have Major League experience it’s a great asset, and in Kimera’s situation he has been in the big leagues with the Pirates for a few years, worked with the Phillies, and obviously in the past he had been a Tiger player as well. He’s a super guy. A bunch of our staff knew him out on the trail and had some real nice things to say, so we’re very fortunate to be able to work that out.”

Littlefield noted that Tigers pitching prospect Alex Faedo  recently underwent Tommy John surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

“He has had surgery and I actually saw him yesterday and he feels very good in starting that whole process of rehab, which will be done in Lakeland,” Littlefield said. 

Faedo joined the rest of the Tigers’ highly touted pitching prospects at the alternate training site last summer in Toledo, but he was shut down in September with what the team described as a right forearm strain. Faedo, the Tigers’ first round pick in the 2017 MLB draft, ranks 10th on the Tigers’ Top 30 prospects list, per MLB Pipeline.

 (— from Mud Hens press release and Press Sports Editor J. Patrick Eaken) 






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