Sports

Patriots' "Big Jon" Hunton Retires, Named Pitching Coach

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From left, Jon Hunton, Brett Jodie, Fox Beyer and Glen Barker. Credits: Courtesy of Somerset Patriots
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BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset Patriots and manager Brett Jodie have announced the coaching staff for the 2018 season. Glen Barker will return as the team’s third base/ hitting coach while Jon Hunton has announced his retirement from professional baseball and has been named the team’s pitching coach/ director of Baseball Operations. Fox Beyer will also return as a volunteer assistant coach.

“I am eagerly anticipating the beginning of our season,” said Jodie. “Somerset is such a special place and it is because of everyone involved: great ownership, outstanding staff and the best fans. Mix in a group of players you look forward to being around everyday and it truly becomes a family.”

Jodie enters his sixth season as manager and 15th season with the Somerset Patriots organization. He carries a 415-282 (.680) record in his first five seasons as a manager, including a 2015 Atlantic Championship. His teams have won six of a possible 10 Half Championships and have made the playoffs in each of his seasons at the helm.

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The South Carolina native was named the 2015 Atlantic League Manager of the Year after his team not only won the league’s title but recorded a historic 50-win first half: the most wins in any half by any team in league history. Additionally, Jodie’s 2013 team set a franchise record with 90 wins and he became the fastest manager in league history to win 250 games, setting that mark on August 26, 2015.

Jodie first joined the Patriots organization in 2003 as a player. That year, the former New York Yankee southpaw went 12-5 with a 3.78 ERA en route to an Atlantic League championship. He also made 10 starts with Somerset in 2005 before he announced his retirement. Jodie then became the team’s pitching coach in 2006 – a position he held through 2012 – and the director of Player Personnel from 2007 through 2013. He won two additional championships as a coach in 2008 and 2009.

Barker enters his third season as the third base/hitting coach in Somerset. Under his tutelage last year, the Patriots as a team led the Atlantic League in walks (557) and on-base percentage (.355). It marked the second-straight season the team led the league in those categories under Barker.

Barker played in 235 games for the Houston Astros from 1999 through 2001. In 1999, Barker hit .288 with 23 runs scored, 21 hits, two doubles, a home run, 11 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 81 games played.

He was originally drafted in the 11th round of the 1993 MLB draft by the Detroit Tigers. He spent six seasons in the organization before joining the Astros in 1999. His minor league career also included time in the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles organizations.

For his minor league career, Barker had 430 runs scored, 656 hits, 113 doubles, 31 triples, 37 home runs, 262 RBI and 236 stolen bases.

“Glen is a tireless worker who wants to help these guys grow and accomplish their goals,” said Jodie. “He brings experience to our hitters and baserunners and is an honest, trustworthy guy in whom I have the utmost confidence.”

Hunton enters his seventh overall season with the Somerset Patriots and first as the team’s Pitching Coach/ Director of Baseball Operations. He previously spent six seasons as a record-setting relief pitcher; the latter four of which he was also the Director of Player Personnel. With his transition into a coaching role, Hunton has announced his retirement from professional baseball.

Hunton missed most of the 2017 season with injuries and recorded two saves over 15 relief appearances. He finished his Atlantic League career as the single season (49, 2014) and all-time saves leader (167), 158 of which came with Somerset.

The North Plainfield native was twice named an Atlantic League All-Star (2013 and 2016) and has won three Atlantic League championships, including two with the Patriots (2008 and 2015).

In 2014, Hunton became the first player in professional baseball to hold the title of Director of Player Personnel while still playing. The 6’9” closer either led or finished second in the league in saves in four-straight seasons (2013-2016). He previously had years of service in both the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics organizations.

Hunton has 275 career saves over a 14-year career that’s taken him all over the United States and around the world.

“This will be a new challenge for Jon and I know he is excited about the opportunity,” said Jodie. “He gave his heart and soul into playing the game for many years and now he can pour that same passion into coaching. He also does a tremendous job in finding the players for our team. He is thorough and honest with the guys. It’s great to welcome him back as the Director of Baseball Operations.”

Somerset’s previous pitching coach of five seasons, Cory Domel, has accepted a position as the pitching coach of the Sugar Land Skeeters. 

Beyer comes back for his 11th season as a volunteer assistant coach/ bench coach for the Somerset Patriots.

He spent parts of three seasons filling the same position in the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies organizations- both at the Double-A level.

“Fox does so much for us and wants no credit for it,” said Jodie. “He is the most unselfish, caring guy that I know and truly loves the game. He makes everyone around him better through his knowledge of the game and the way he handles life. Fox is a true friend and it is very special to be able to work with him.”

Tickets are now on sale for the 2018 season beginning at home on Friday, April 27th. For more information, please visit www.somersetpatriots.com.

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