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Coppolella's creativity, work ethic led to GM role

'Outside-the-box thinker' developed under Hart, Schuerholz

ATLANTA -- Before being named the Braves general manager on Thursday, John Coppolella spent the past year soaking in the unique opportunity to work alongside team president John Schuerholz and president of baseball operations John Hart, who both produced distinguished GM careers before assuming their positions within Atlanta's front office.

While reaping the benefits of this fortunate apprenticeship, Coppolella also willingly accepted the challenge to engineer a massive organizational reconstruction aimed toward strengthening the club's future roster and payroll flexibility. Along the way, Hart provided guidance, occasionally pulled in the reins and made the ultimate decisions.

Though Coppolella was the assistant general manager who constructed many of the deals, Hart's title put him in a position where he drew much of the heat aimed by fans who were angered by the club's dismal second-half results and trades that sent Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Craig Kimbrel elsewhere.

"John Hart, what he has done for me this year and every day has been great," Coppolella said. "John wore all these trades and this 90-plus loss seasons. John took all of those hits. I think so highly of him on the field and off the field. He's sharp. He cares and he's a family guy. He's just a great leader and a great person."

Video: [email protected]: Coppolella discusses being hired as new GM

Schuerholz has shared a friendship with Hart for more than three decades and he has helped Coppolella develop while spending each of the past nine seasons within Atlanta's front office. Despite the Braves entering Thursday having lost 52 of their past 74 games, the distinguished executive has been pleased with what Hart and Coppolella have done to help shape the organization's future.

"The remarkable work these two have done in pivoting this organization around to put us in position to move forward very positively and very successfully and very quickly has been quite remarkable, not only by our view by the view of many others within the industry who have observed what they have done," Schuerholz said.

Thus, it was not surprising to learn the Braves will stick with this same leadership structure next year. Coppolella will continue to report to Hart. The only difference is he will now have a title that supports the role he has filled since the Braves GM spot was vacated by the dismissal of Frank Wren on Sept. 21, 2014.

"[Coppolella] has worn the second hat with me and he's never wavered," Hart said. "I'm very, very impressed by the year I've had with John. Over the years, I've been fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of young executives that have gone on to become general managers. John certainly fits right into that bill. He's one of the bright and creative minds that we have within our game today. The fans of Atlanta should be very comfortable that there is not going to be any stone that is left unturned with John there. Brightness and creativity is one thing. But his unrelenting work ethic is something that stands out as much as anything."

Coppolella's tireless work ethic led him to make many late calls like the one he and Padres GM A.J. Preller shared around 3 a.m. ET, approximately 12 hours before they completed the April 5 trade that sent Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. 's contract to San Diego in exchange for Matt Wisler, Cameron Maybin and the 41st overall selection in the 2014 Draft, which netted the Braves Austin Riley, who has quickly become one of the organization's most intriguing prospects.

"[Coppolella] is an outside-the-box thinker," Schuerholz said. "He's aggressive and he's dynamic in his thought processes. He relates to everybody in the office and everybody on the scouting staff. He's a good communicator and people like working with him. He's got a lot of special qualities and they're going to shine over the next couple years."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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