Matt Erickson, a backup infielder for the Brewers for four games in 2004, has been promoted to manage the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Milwaukee’s Class A affiliate in Appleton, Wis.
Erickson had been the Rattlers’ hitting coach for the past two years. The team also announced that pitching Coach Chris Hook and athletic trainer Jeff Paxson both would return for 2011, and that former University of North Florida head coach Dusty Rhodes would replace Erickson as hitting coach. Tim Gifford has been assigned to the Timber Rattlers as the Strength & Conditioning Coach.
Erickson is a native of Appleton and played baseball at Appleton West High School. He retired as a player after the 2008 season and became the Timber Rattlers hitting coach in 2009.
“I am very excited to get the opportunity to manage a Brewers affiliate in my hometown,” Erickson in a statement from the team. “The Brewers are the organization that I grew up watching. They gave me a call up to play in the big leagues and now a chance to help develop the young talent in their organization.”
Jeff Isom, who managed the Timber Rattlers in 2009 and 2010, has moved on to be the manager of the Class A Brevard County Manatees, Milwaukee’s Florida State League affiliate.
For the rest of the staff breakdowns, check out the story on Brewers.com later today.
A slew of the Brewers’ top prospects, especially in the pitching department, are set to begin their season just up the road from Miller Park.
Three of Milwaukee’s first five picks in last year’s Draft — pitchers Eric Arnett (right, foreground) and Kyle Heckathorn and catcher Cameron Garfield — headlined the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ roster unveiled by the Brewers on Monday amid big-league Opening Day festivities. The Timber Rattlers will also feature pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi, Del Howell, Nick Bucci and Maverick Lasker, plus Florida State University quarterback-turned-Brewers outfielder D’Vontrey Richardson.
The Timber Rattlers are scheduled to play their season opener on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. CT, an off-day for the big league club. Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, Wis. is about 100 miles north of Miller Park via U.S. Hwy. 41, and tickets are still available on the team’s website
“You look up and down the roster, and it’s just prospect after prospect,” Rattlers president Rob Zerjav told the Appleton Post-Crescent’s Brett Christopherson. “I’d get the daily [Minor-League Spring Training] box scores from Brewers, and these guys were quite impressive. It seems like they’re the real deal.”
Timber Rattlers manager Jeff Isom told the Post-Crescent that all of the team’s starting pitchers but Arnett would work in tandems to start the season. The day’s starter will get 75-80 pitches to start the season before turning it over to the designated reliever. The next time through the rotation, the pitchers will switch roles.
Arnett and Heckathorn were a part of the Brewers’ Major League Spring Training camp this year but neither appeared in a Cactus League game. Arnett, a 22-year-old power right-hander and the 26th overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, posted a 4.41 ERA at rookie-level Helena last summer. He struck out a batter an inning (35 strikeouts, 34 2/3 innings) but also issued 21 walks.
In all, the Timber Rattlers’ roster includes 14 players drafted by the Brewers in 2009. The full roster is available here