COLUMBIA, SC – The Columbia Fireflies, in conjunction with the Kansas City Royals, today announced their 2023 Field Staff. Tony Peña Jr. will return to the soda city for his second season as the Fireflies’ Manager and he will be joined by 2022 pitching coach John Habyan. There will also be some new faces in the neon and navy this year, as Ari Adut joins as the new hitting coach and Matt Schmidt takes over as the bench coach.
“The Kansas City Royals are sending a world class staff to Columbia once again for the 2022 season,” said Fireflies Team President, Brad Shank. “We are really looking forward to welcoming Tony back for his second season at Segra Park and we are excited to see what he and the rest of the staff can do with the talented young players in the Royals’ system.”
Last year, Peña pioneered the Fireflies to a 52-79 overall record that saw the team improve with a 34-31 second half. The team finished in second place in the Carolina League South Division in the second half, behind the 2022 Carolina League Champions, the Charleston RiverDogs.
The Santiago, Dominican Republic native had a four-year Major League career, including three seasons with the Kansas City Royals before he retired from playing internationally in 2017. Peña began his managerial career in 2019, taking the helm of the Arizona League Royals. He spent 2021 on the coaching staff of the big-league club before his tenure in Columbia.
Schmidt is Columbia’s newest bench coach and becomes the first former Fireflies player to serve as a coach on the staff. Schmidt played 49 games for Columbia in 2021 during his lone season in Minor League Baseball as a player.
Habyan returns to the staff for a second year after a 17-year career coaching prep ball at St. John the Baptist and a seven-year stint as the pitching coach for Hofstra. During his tenure with the Pride, they set school records in team ERA (3.59) and strikeouts in an individual season (412). Last year, the Fireflies held a 4.94 ERA through 131 games.
Adut joins the Royals’ organization in 2023 following time with both the Yankees and Phillies organizations. Last year, he was the Jersey Shore BlueClaws hitting coach in the South Atlantic League. The 30-year-old was cut from his high school baseball team, according to an Asbury Park Press article, prior to working his way from starting at junior college to earning a DII college scholarship offer before…