MLB, USA Baseball announce 2023 Prospect Development Pipeline League staff

Eleven former big leaguers to serve on this year’s coaching staff

June 24th, 2023

CARY, N.C. – Major League Baseball and USA Baseball jointly announced the coaching staff for the 2023 Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League, including the naming of 11 former Major Leaguers to the staff. Team managers for the event will include former big leaguers Doug Mientkiewicz and Jack Wilson, former Major League hitting coach Rick Eckstein and college coaching veteran Tom Griffin.

They will be joined by the 2023 18U National Team coaching staff – manager Michael Cuddyer, pitching coach LaTroy Hawkins and assistant coaches Butch Chaffin Jason Maxwell – all of whom will be roving coordinators at the event.

The 2023 PDP League is scheduled for June 26-July 3 at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. The annual event is an invitation-based development and assessment opportunity for high school players eligible for the following year’s MLB Draft, also serving as the primary identification event for the 18U National Team. Since its inception in 2019, it provides athletes with an extraordinary amateur experience, including competitive gameplay, player development sessions, educational seminars and other programming to prepare players for a professional baseball career.

Two of this year’s PDP League games will be televised live on MLB Network, with every other matchup streaming live on MLB Network will broadcast the opening two contests of the event on June 27, with Team Light Blue taking on Team Gray at 1 p.m. ET and Team Navy battling Team Red at 4 p.m. ET.

“We are really excited about this year’s PDP League coaching staff,” said Brett Curll, USA Baseball 18U National Team Director. “The PDP League offers a second-to-none experience to the top amateur players in the nation while also serving as a crucial piece of the identification process for our 18U National Team. Many of these coaches have been at the level that all of these players aspire to reach, and we can’t wait to watch them interact and learn from one another starting next week in Cary.”

Eleven former big leaguers are on the 20-man staff, including two-time MLB All-Star Cuddyer and longtime reliever Hawkins. Luke Gregerson, Matt Guerrier, Brad Penny and Greg Swindell will serve as pitching coaches this summer, bringing with them a combined 53 seasons of Major League experience on the mound. Additionally, former catcher Mike McKenry and 11-year MLB veteran Denard Span will assume assistant coach duties.

In addition to Griffin, eight assistant coaches at this year’s PDP League own experience across numerous levels of amateur baseball. Roving instructors Chaffin and Maxwell each serve as head coaches at the high school level in Tennessee. Current college coaches Cody Ellis (UNC Greensboro), Jeremy Sheetinger (Georgia Gwinnett) and Dan Skirka (Murray State), will serve as assistants in 2023 alongside former high school coaching legend Rick Carpenter. Former college coaches Andre Butler and Mark “Lunch” McKenzie also join this year’s staff in the assistant coach role.

The full coaching staff for the 2023 PDP League is as follows (Coaches’ bios enclosed below):


18U National Team Manager: Michael Cuddyer

18U National Team Pitching Coach: LaTroy Hawkins

18U National Team Assistant Coach: Butch Chaffin

18U National Team Assistant Coach: Jason Maxwell


Manager: Doug Mientkiewicz

Pitching Coach: Greg Swindell

Assistant Coach: Andre Butler

Assistant Coach: Jeremy Sheetinger


Manager: Tom Griffin

Pitching Coach: Brad Penny

Assistant Coach: Rick Carpenter

Assistant Coach: Denard Span


Manager: Rick Eckstein

Pitching Coach: Luke Gregerson

Assistant Coach: Cody Ellis

Assistant Coach: Dan Skirka


Manager: Jack Wilson

Pitching Coach: Matt Guerrier

Assistant Coach: Mike McKenry

Assistant Coach: Mark “Lunch” McKenzie


Andre Butler returns for his third season at the PDP League as an assistant coach for Team Light Blue. The owner and operator of Graveyard Mentality in Pennsylvania, Butler is one of the best in the coaching profession at teaching outfield play. In addition to running his training organization, he has extensive experience coaching at the collegiate level. His most recent stop was at Swarthmore College, where he served as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator from 2020-21, marking his second stint with the Phoenix after spending the 2012-13 school year as an assistant coach. Prior to Swarthmore, he was an assistant coach at Penn State University from 2016-19, where he served in multiple roles, including hitting coach. His first season with the Nittany Lions was the program's best in recent history, as they earned their first winning record in four years and doubled their Big Ten win total from the previous season. Prior to his time at Penn State, Butler coached at the University of Pennsylvania and DeSales University. In addition to his coaching experience, Butler played collegiately for four seasons at Eastern University, graduating in 2012 as one of the program's all-time best hitters. He also started his own tee ball league called the "Jackie Robinson West Philly League" in Philadelphia.

Joining the 2023 PDP League coaching staff as a Team Gray assistant coach is legendary high school head coach Rick Carpenter. Carpenter played collegiate baseball at Georgetown University before joining the coaching staff for three seasons. Following his time with the Hoyas, he moved to the high school baseball ranks, where he held a 37-year career across five programs and established himself as one of Texas’ most successful coaches in state history. Carpenter’s coaching legacy features three state championships at Elkins High School (Missouri City, Texas) in 1995, 2002 and 2003, and winning a fourth state title at Prosper High School (Prosper, Texas) in 2015. Carpenter compiled an 883-311-8 record and, throughout his career, amassed 29 playoff berths, 19 district championships, 19 recognitions as District Coach of the Year and a combined six coach of the year awards across the district, regional and national levels. During his time as a head coach, Carpenter coached 34 professional players, including Major Leaguers Kip Wells, James Loney, Chad Huffman and his son, Matt Carpenter.

Experienced professional and collegiate coach Rick Eckstein joins the 2023 PDP League staff as Team Navy’s manager. Eckstein started his coaching career in 1997 when he served as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Florida following the end of his playing career at the school. In 1999, he joined the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as a bullpen coach and batting practice pitcher before taking the same role with the Minnesota Twins a year later. Eckstein got his first hitting coach position shortly after this, joining the University of Georgia’s coaching staff during the 2002 and 2003 seasons. In the subsequent years, he bounced around multiple Minor League teams in that role, including the Harrisburg Senators, Vermont Expos, New Orleans Zephyrs, Memphis Redbirds and Columbus Clippers. He got his first Major League coaching role at the end of 2008 with the Washington Nationals, where he served as the hitting coach until the end of the 2013 season. Eckstein joined the Los Angeles Angels as a player information coach in 2014 before returning to the college ranks as an assistant coach for the University of Kentucky for two seasons. After that, he was brought on by the Minnesota Twins as a Minor League hitting coordinator and worked in that role from 2016-18. His most recent coaching position was as the hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, which he held until the end of the 2021 season. Eckstein also has prior experience with USA Baseball, serving on the coaching staff for the Professional National Team from 2005-08. He was an assistant at both the 2005 and 2007 International Baseball Federation’s Baseball World Cups, as well as the 2006 Olympic Qualifier, before serving his most recent tour with the U.S. at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in China. He was named USA Baseball’s Doc Counsilman Science Award winner in 2008 for his coaching efforts through scientific data and technology with the stars and stripes in Beijing.

UNC Greensboro (UNCG) Assistant Coach Cody Ellis returns to the PDP League staff as an assistant coach for Team Navy. At UNCG, Ellis serves as recruiting coordinator and outfield coach while assisting with the offense. He joined the Spartans coaching staff in 2022 after serving as head coach and assistant athletic director for three years at his alma mater, Patrick Henry Community College, where he led the Patriots to an NJCAA World Series title in 2021. Prior to his time at PHCC, he was the head coach at Lynchburg University for two seasons, where he was simultaneously an assistant for the Keene Swampbats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. In addition to his collegiate coaching roles, Ellis has also served as a member of the USA Baseball Task Force at the NTIS (National Team Identification Series) Champions Cup and the National Team Championships in past summers and most recently served as the Team Gray manager at the 2021 PDP League. As a player, Ellis spent two seasons apiece at PHCC and Norfolk State, where he collected all-region and All-MEAC Second Team honors, respectively. Following his collegiate career, he played professionally for the Garden City Wind and the Topeka Trainrobbers of the Pecos League.

Two-time USA Baseball alum and MLB veteran Luke Gregerson will serve as pitching coach for Team Navy at the 2023 PDP League after making his coaching debut in the event in 2021 as the pitching coach for Team Red. Gregerson, who spent 11 years in the big leagues, was a member of both the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic Teams and helped Team USA win its first-ever championship in the event in 2017. Gregerson pitched two perfect innings for Team USA in 2013, and in 2017, he maintained a 0.00 ERA and made three saves in four appearances during the tournament. Throughout his Team USA career, he has pitched six hitless innings and allowed just one baserunner. Gregerson began his professional playing career with the St. Louis Cardinals, who selected him in the 28th round of the 2006 MLB Draft before he was traded to the San Diego Padres prior to the 2009 season. He made his big-league debut and pitched for five seasons with San Diego, collecting a 2.88 ERA in 347.0 innings pitched. He then spent a season with the Oakland Athletics, posting a 2.12 ERA in 72 games, before joining the Houston Astros in 2015, where he amassed 47 saves in three seasons with a 3.66 ERA. The right-handed pitcher finished his career with the Cardinals, as he appeared in 23 games over two seasons (2018-19) and concluded his professional playing career with a 3.15 ERA and 66 saves.

Returning for his third year at the PDP League is Tom Griffin, who is set to manage Team Gray. He recently completed his 18th season as head coach at Carson-Newman University, where he owns a 501-384 record. Over his 25-year career as a collegiate head coach, Griffin has won 685 total games and has coached five MLB Draft picks and 23 total professional players, including USA Baseball alum Steve Cishek. Griffin led the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament twice in his first three seasons at the helm, posting a 43-18 record in his third campaign in 2008. The skipper is currently in his third stint with Carson-Newman after twice serving as an assistant coach in the early 2000s. Griffin came to Jefferson City after spending eight seasons as the head coach at nearby Tusculum College, where he won 184 games and led the Pioneers to four consecutive trips to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) District 24 Tournament. He also served as the head coach at Morristown East High School (Morristown, Tenn.) in 2002, and he led the Hurricanes to a district championship in his only season.

Matt Guerrier will bring 11 years of MLB experience to the 2023 PDP League staff as pitching coach for Team Red. Guerrier was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 10th round of the 1999 MLB Draft after playing three seasons at Kent State University. The right-handed pitcher made his big-league debut as a starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins in 2004 before spending the majority of his career in the bullpen. He spent eight seasons with the Twins and collected a 3.40 ERA in 500 innings. Guerrier led the league in games pitched in 2008 and 2009, and his 33 holds in 2009 put him atop the American League leaderboard in that category. After leaving Minnesota in 2010, Guerrier spent the next three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, posting a 4.24 ERA in 120 games. The Cleveland, Ohio, native went on to conclude his professional career with the Chicago Cubs in 2013, where he appeared in 15 games and collected a 2.13 ERA. Guerrier finished his professional playing career with a 3.52 ERA in 555 games.

A former member of the USA Baseball National Board of Coaching Education, Mark “Lunch” McKenzie returns to the PDP League in 2023 for the second straight year as an assistant coach for Team Red. A mainstay with USA Baseball national teams and events for more than 20 years, he most recently served as an assistant coach for the 2023 12U National Team that won gold at the World Baseball Softball Classic (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in May. McKenzie, who has been a part of a national team coaching staff on four separate occasions, made his international coaching debut in 1997 with the 16U National Team. He took over as manager of the program the following summer and led the stars and stripes to a perfect 8-0 record and a gold medal at the 1998 IBAF World Youth Championships. Thanks to Team USA’s efforts that summer, the 16U National Team earned the USA Baseball Team of the Year award, and McKenzie was named the USA Baseball Developmental Coach of the Year. In addition to his USA Baseball experience, McKenzie was the head coach at Concordia University, St. Paul for 20 years and is the program’s all-time wins leader. He led the Golden Bears to the NCAA Central Region Tournament for the first time in program history in 2008 and compiled a 456-361-1 overall record.

Seven-year MLB veteran Michael McKenry brings a wealth of baseball experience to the 2023 PDP League as an assistant coach for Team Red. Drafted in the seventh round of the 2006 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies, McKenry made his Major League debut for the Club in 2010. The catcher went on to spend seven total seasons in the big leagues, playing for the Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. He finished as a career .238 hitter with 29 home runs and 103 RBIs in 311 games. After McKenry retired from professional baseball in 2018, he served as the director of player development at his alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University, and as a studio analyst for the Pirates. He continues to serve as an in-game color analyst for Pittsburgh as well as an on-air MLB analyst for AT&T Sports Networks.

Olympic gold medalist and 12-year MLB veteran Doug Mientkiewicz returns to the PDP League staff for the second consecutive year as Team Light Blue’s manager. A two-time USA Baseball alum, he played for the 1994 Collegiate National Team before winning gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, where he hit a game-winning home run against South Korea in the semifinals. Mientkiewicz is one of just five players to win both a gold medal and a World Series championship, which he accomplished as a member of the 2004 Boston Red Sox. After a standout collegiate career at Florida State, he was selected in the fifth round of the 1995 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins, with whom he spent 12 of his 18 professional seasons. Mientkiewicz’s best year came in 2001 when he played in 151 games and hit .306 with 15 home runs–all career highs–in addition to claiming the American League Gold Glove Award as the top defensive first baseman. After more than six seasons with the Twins, he went on to play for the Red Sox (2004), New York Mets (2005), Kansas City Royals (2006), New York Yankees (2007), Pittsburgh Pirates (2008) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2009). Mientkiewicz finished his MLB career as a .271 hitter with 66 home runs and 405 RBIs. Following his playing career, he joined the coaching ranks as the hitting coach for the rookie league Ogden Raptors in 2012. He returned to the Twins organization the next season, where he was manager of the Single-A Fort Myers Miracle (2014-15, 2017) and Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts (2015-16). Most recently, Mientkiewicz was the manager of the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens from 2018-19.

Brad Penny joins the 2023 PDP League staff as Team Gray’s pitching coach after serving as a roving instructor and pitching coach at the 2022 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP) and as the pitching coach for the 18U National Team for the past two years. He led the 18U staff to a 1.53 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 59 innings in a seven-game friendship series against Canada in 2021. In 2022, Penny’s pitching staff went 8-0 at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier and posted a 2.56 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 52 innings en route to a gold medal. In addition to his USA Baseball coaching experience, Penny donned the stars and stripes as a player when he suited up for the organization’s first Professional National Team in 1999. The squad won a silver medal at the 1999 Pan American Games, qualifying Team USA for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, where the U.S. earned the gold medal with a 4-0 defeat of Cuba. The right-hander was selected in the fifth round of the 1996 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and held a 14-year MLB playing career that included two All-Star selections and a World Series championship. After making his Major League debut with the Miami Marlins in 2000, he helped lead the team to the organization’s second World Series championship in 2003 with a 4.13 ERA in 32 starts during the season. After four seasons with the Marlins, Penny was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he made All-Star Game appearances in 2006 and 2007 and finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2007. In 2006, he turned in a 4.33 ERA along with a career-high 148 strikeouts and a league-leading 16 wins, and in 2007 he compiled an MLB-best .800 win percentage (16-4) on the mound. Following the 2008 season, he spent time with the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers before returning to the Marlins in 2014 for his final season. The Blackwell, Okla., native finished his career with 121 wins, 1,273 strikeouts and a 4.29 ERA in 1,925 innings pitched in the big leagues.

Georgia Gwinnett College head coach Jeremy Sheetinger is slated to serve as an assistant coach for Team Light Blue at the 2023 PDP League. Sheetinger became the second coach in GGC program history in 2020 and, in just four years, has taken the program to new heights. He has guided the Grizzlies to three straight NAIA World Series appearances (2021-23), including the program’s first national championship in 2021. Thanks to GGC’s historic season, he became the first NAIA coach to be named the Skip Bertman National Coach of the Year by the Collegiate Baseball Foundation. Prior to GGC, he was the head coach at Spalding College from 2013-15, where he posted an 86-43 record and led the program to three postseason tournament appearances. Sheetinger’s coaching experiences also include being the director of baseball operations at the University of Kentucky for three seasons, the lead assistant coach at St. Joseph’s College for two seasons and an assistant coach at Brescia University and Georgetown College. In addition to coaching, Sheetinger acted as the college division liaison for the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) from 2016-19, has been an associate scout for the Atlanta Braves since 2015, and was a member of the 2021 15U National Team Trials coaching staff.

Murray State University head coach Dan Skirka joins the 2023 PDP League as an assistant coach for Team Navy this summer. Skirka, who previously worked with USA Baseball as an assistant at the 2019 PDP League as well as a manager at the 2022 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP), recently completed his fifth season at the helm of the Racers program. He has won 128 games during that time, including a program-record 18 Ohio Valley Conference contests in 2021. Skirka was quite familiar with the MSU program before taking over, as he served as an assistant coach for the club from 2009-14. Between his stints at Murray State, Skirka had four successful seasons as the recruiting coordinator at Walters State Community College, where he helped lead the Senators to a 208-48 record during that span. He played collegiately at Grand Valley State University, earning Rawlings/American Baseball Coaches Association All-Region First-Team honors during his senior season in 2007. Skirka began his coaching career the following year at Grand Rapids Community College, where his team advanced to the NJCAA World Series. Skirka also spent one season as an assistant at Ouachita Baptist University in 2009.

Denard Span, an 11-year MLB veteran and USA Baseball alum, will join the 2023 PDP League coaching staff as an assistant coach for Team Gray. After helping the 2001 18U National Team earn a silver medal at the COPABE Pan American Junior Championships, Span was selected by the Minnesota Twins with the 20th overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft. He made his Major League debut in 2008 and spent five seasons in Minnesota, leading the American League in triples in 2009 while posting a .311 batting average. After his time with the Twins, he spent three seasons with the Washington Nationals, where he hit a league-leading 11 triples in 153 games in 2013 and led the National League in hits with 184 in 2014. Span then played two seasons with the San Francisco Giants in 2016 and 2017 before finishing his career in 2018 with stints on the Tampa Bay Rays and the Seattle Mariners rosters. Overall, he had a career .281 average, along with a .347 on-base percentage and a .991 fielding percentage. After retiring in 2020, Span worked as a special assistant for baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays, and he recently joined Bally Sports Sun as an analyst for Tampa Bay in February.

Returning to the PDP League coaching staff for the second consecutive year is 17-year Major League veteran, All-Star, World Series champion and USA Baseball alum Greg Swindell. Swindell will serve as Team Light Blue’s pitching coach. The former University of Texas standout was drafted second overall in the first round of the 1986 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians. After just three Minor League appearances, Swindell made his big-league debut in August of that same year. That kicked off what would be a 17-year Major League career that saw him play for six different Clubs with 123 wins and a 3.86 ERA in 664 career games. He also struck out 1,542 batters in 2,233.1 total innings pitched. Swindell was named to the 1989 All-Star Game as a member of the Indians and earned a World Series championship ring when he helped the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks defeat the New York Yankees. One of the most decorated players in Longhorn history, Swindell’s collegiate career saw him post a 43-8 record in 77 games with a 1.92 ERA in his three seasons in Austin. He made 50 starts, including 32 complete games and notched school records for shutouts (14) and strikeouts (501) while leading Texas to three consecutive Southwest Conference titles and back-to-back College World Series appearances in 1984 and 1985. Swindell was named the 1985 Baseball America National Player of the Year and was a three-time finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. He was also a member of the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, which competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, where baseball was classified as a demonstration sport. After retiring as a player in 2002, he began his coaching career in 2004 at Texas State before returning to his alma mater the following season, where he helped the Longhorns win their sixth national championship. Swindell was inducted into the UT Hall of Honor in 1996, the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2019. He has served as a TV analyst on the Longhorn Network since 2016.

Two-time USA Baseball coach Jack Wilson assumes the role of assistant coach for Team Red at this year's PDP League. This summer will be his third time serving in a coaching capacity at the PDP League, as he was a roving instructor in 2022 and an infield coordinator in 2021. On the international front, Wilson was an assistant coach for the 2022 18U National Team that won gold at World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup, as well as the 2021 18U National Team that defeated Canada, 5-1-1, in a seven-game friendship series. He just finished his first season as an assistant coach at Grand Canyon University and helped lead the Lopes to a 37-21 season, including a 22-7 mark in conference play. Prior to joining the college ranks, Wilson served as the head coach at Thousand Oaks High School (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) from 2017-21, where he collected a 98-30-1 overall record and led the Lancers to two Marmonte League championships (2019, 2021) and a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF)-SS Division 2 title in 2021. Under his guidance, the program went 24-6, including 10-2 in league play in 2019, and finished the 2021 season with a 27-1 record. He also led the squad to an 8-0 start in the 2020 season and a No. 1 CIF-SS Division 2 ranking before the pause in play caused by COVID-19. Prior to his coaching career, Wilson played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves for more than 12 years in the big leagues. He led the National League with 12 triples in 2004, earning a spot on the National League All-Star Team and a Silver Slugger Award for his efforts. In 1,370 MLB games, Wilson recorded a .265/.306/.366 career slash line with 61 home runs and 426 RBIs.

About USA Baseball

USA Baseball is the national governing body for baseball in the United States and is committed to serving, protecting, and supporting the game of baseball and its 15.6 million participants. Founded in 1978, USA Baseball fields six national teams annually and is a member of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC). On the diamond, USA Baseball is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and its national teams have won 67 gold medals in international competition. Off the field, the organization is dedicated to the proliferation and health of the sport through the creation and management of numerous development initiatives including BASE (Baseball Athlete Safety Education), Fun At Bat, Pitch Smart, PLAY BALL and the Prospect Development Pipeline. For more information on the organization, its national teams, and development-driven initiatives, visit the official website or