JOLIET —The Joliet Slammers recently announced the hiring of Mike Breyman as the second field manager in franchise history.
“This is a great day for our organization,” Slammers General Manager Chris Franklin said. “Mike Breyman is a great leader and an even better person. We have enjoyed success together in the past and I look forward to working with Mike once again.”
Breyman, 31, served as the hitting coach for the Gateway Grizzlies in 2012 and in the same capacity with the River City Rascals in 2010 and 2011. Franklin was the general manager of the Rascals during those seasons.
The duo won a Frontier League Championship with the Rascals in 2010, and Breyman was named the Frontier League’s Coach of the Year in 2011. Prior to that, Breyman was the Grizzlies’ bench coach in 2009 and played with Gateway for five seasons (2004-08). Breyman finished with a .325 career batting average and a .999 career OPS.
Breyman’s relationship with Franklin, a Joliet native, was a huge factor in Breyman’s decision to come to Joliet.
“Chris and I developed a great relationship in River City,” Breyman said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to manage a team in Joliet and I look forward to entrenching myself into the community.”
Breyman is confident in the talent he inherits in Joliet and can’t wait for spring training to start in May.
“Last year was a crazy year due to injuries (for the Slammers),” Breyman said. “On paper Joliet was a team everyone was nervous about facing, but there’s so much turnover with guys going in and out of the league. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Like Franklin, Breyman is a big believer in the importance of team chemistry in winning baseball games. In the Frontier League, that can be difficult with all the turnover throughout the season.
“You can have a team with all the talent in the world, but if there’s no unity, that team falls apart,” Breyman said. “We are going to be looking for players who can thrive on and off the field.”
While the Grizzlies and Rascals both play in hitters' parks, Breyman knows it’s a different ballgame in Joliet.
“I understand the necessity of small ball here at Silver Cross Field,” Breyman said. “We’re not going to sit around and wait for the three-run home run.”
One of his first tasks will be hiring a coaching staff. He says those decisions will be made very soon. Breyman has a strong background in hitting so he will be looking for a pitching coach he knows and trusts to lead the staff in 2013.
“The fields are slow in the Frontier League,” Breyman said. “So we are going to emphasize that our pitchers should try to induce groundballs and limit their walks.”
Before his professional career as a player and coach, Breyman played his college ball at the University of Kentucky. He hit .810 his senior year of high school in Attica, Ohio. The .810 batting average is the highest ever recorded in a single high school baseball season in American history.
“Mike’s ability to connect with players is unparalleled and his passion for the game is contagious,” Franklin said. “His work ethic has earned him both personal and team success, both of which I expect to continue.”