For the first time since 2016, the TinCaps have named a new manager.
Into the shoes of Anthony Contreras, the winningest and longest-tenured field general in Fort Wayne franchise history, steps former Indianapolis Indians manager Brian Esposito.
“I’m elated to be a member of the San Diego Padres organization now,” Esposito said in a statement. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Indiana and have heard nothing but great things about the TinCaps, Parkview Field, and the City of Fort Wayne. I can’t wait for the season to start.”
The TinCaps also announced pitching coach Jimmy Jones will return for a second season and seven-year minor-league veteran Randolph Gassaway, who reached Double-A with the Orioles in 2017, will be the team's new hitting coach, replacing Jonathan Mathews. Former TinCap Jhonaldo Pozo, who played six games with Fort Wayne in 2011, will be the new bench coach.
Esposito, 42, managed the Indians, a member of the Triple-A International League, in 2018, 2019 and 2021 (the 2020 minor-league season was canceled because of the novel coronavirus pandemic) and compiled a 200-208 record in those three seasons, including a 73-67 mark in 2018.
Prior to his time in Indianapolis, Esposito spent four seasons as a Class-A manager, leading the short-season Jamestown Jammers in 2014, the Low-A West Virginia Power in 2015 and 2016 and the short-season West Virginia Black Bears in 2017.
He managed the Power to back-to-back winning campaigns in the South Atlantic League, including a division championship with an 87-52 mark in 2015 behind future MLBers Jordan Luplow and Cole Tucker. The Black Bears also had a winning record at 40-35 in '17.
Esposito's managerial career began just two years after he finished his time playing pro baseball. He was originally drafted in the fifth round by the Red Sox in 2000 and reached the major leagues for a game with the Cardinals in 2007 and two more with the Astros in 2010.
Playing primarily catcher, the Staten Island, New York, native appeared in 765 MiLB games, including long stints at Triple-A in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and finally in 2012 with the Iowa Cubs. He hit .216 with a .254 OBP and .303 slugging percentage in his 13-year career, compiling 38 home runs and 237 RBI while throwing out 27% of the runners trying to steal bases on him.
Esposito also spent a portion of the 2003 season pitching for Augusta of the South Atlantic League, appearing in 13 games with a 5.33 ERA and working on the same staff as future MLB All-Star Jon Lester, who was then 19.
The TinCaps open their 2022 season, their second in High-A, April 8 at Dayton. The season's first game at Parkview Field is set for April 12 against in-state rival South Bend. The club's roster will be announced in early April.
“(Staff appointments are) a sign that the baseball season is on its way,” TinCaps president Mike Nutter said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming Brian and the rest of this year’s staff to Fort Wayne in April for what’s lining up to be the best year yet at Parkview Field.”