We have personnel news to report from the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Class AA; Southern League) and the Winston-Salem Dash (High A; Carolina League).
In Jacksonville, the Jumbo Shrimp have promoted Harold Craw from the role of general manager to the club’s executive vice president/general manager.
Craw has led the Jacksonville club since September 2015, when the Fast Forward Sports Group officially took over the franchise. He was voted the 2017 Southern League Jimmy Bragan Executive of the Year by the general managers of the league member clubs, becoming the first African-American to win Executive of the Year for any league in Minor League Baseball.
After helping the franchise draw nationwide attention following their Nov. 2, 2016 rebrand, Craw oversaw an incredible 23 percent increase in attendance for the inaugural Jumbo Shrimp season in 2017, the largest increase for any Double-A club. The success has continued to carry over, as the club’s July 3 crowds of 11,762 in 2018 and 11,429 in 2019 are the two largest over the last 10 years at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The nine crowds over 8,600 fans over the last two seasons are the nine largest in the Southern League during that span. In addition, the Jumbo Shrimp welcomed a total attendance of 327,388 in 2019, the best total attendance in the first three seasons of the Jumbo Shrimp.
“Under Harold’s leadership, he has helped make the Jumbo Shrimp part of the fabric of the community in Jacksonville over the past five seasons,” said Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp owner Ken Babby. “I am excited to continue to provide Harold, as a key member of our executive team with the club, the opportunity for career advancement within our organizational structure. Harold sets the tone in our offices and our commitment to the Jacksonville community. Harold’s future remains bright as we are thrilled to continue to have a leader of his caliber at the helm of the Jumbo Shrimp.”
Craw’s tenure in Jacksonville has also seen the club receive several honors, including the Southern League’s 2017 Don Mincher Organization of the Year and a pair of circuit Promotional Trophies in 2017 and 2019, respectively. A new ballpark menu featuring more than a dozen shrimp options at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville was selected to appear on the Travel Channel show “Food Paradise.” The JAXSPORTS Jumbo Shrimp Neck Pillow Giveaway was named the top Minor League Baseball giveaway item by MLB.com Cut4 and Silent Movie Night in 2017 won awards as June and August’s respective Minor League Baseball Promotion of the Month. The Jumbo Shrimp have also hosted free military appreciation nights in each of the last four seasons and celebrated Northeast Florida’s Negro Leagues legacy with throwback Jacksonville Red Caps uniforms and a fan jersey giveaway.
Set to enter his 19th season in Minor League Baseball, Craw worked for the Johnson City Cardinals (Rookie; Appalachian League), Charleston RiverDogs (Low A; Sally League), Quad Cities River Bandits (Low A; Midwest League) and Chattanooga Lookouts (Class AA; Southern League) prior to coming to Jacksonville. While with Charleston, he was twice recognized by the South Atlantic League as Sales Executive of the Year and also for his work in community relations. Craw has been active in volunteering in each community he has lived in, co-founding and co-chairing the Charleston RBI Baseball League and mentoring middle school youth throughout Jacksonville’s Duval County Public Schools 5000 Role Models program.
In Winston-Salem, the Dash have announced a few additions to their front office staff and several promotions of current employees.
Corey Bugno, who has served as the Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, has been promoted to Vice President, where he will oversee all aspects of Dash ticket sales and other external ticket sales effort while assisting with the organization’s overall objectives. Bugno originally joined the Dash in 2010, working in stadium operations before becoming the VP of Corporate Sponsorships in 2015.
Jessica Aveyard, who has served as the Director of Entertainment since August of 2016, has been promoted to the role of Director of Ballpark Experience and Branding, where she will oversee gameday entertainment, graphic design and merchandise.
Ayla Acosta has been promoted from Corporate Partnership Account Manager to Director of Corporate Partnership Services. Working with the Dash since 2017, Acosta will oversee fulfillment of all sponsorship elements for the team’s corporate partners.
Drew Fisch has been promoted to Box Office Manager from Box Office Supervisor. Fisch, who was hired on prior to the 2018 season, will oversee all aspects of ticket operations.
Meanwhile, the organization has added a new Vice President of Corporate Partnerships and several individuals will be joining the Dash’s sales and service departments.
Dean Kessel, who has over 20 years of experience as a sports executive, takes over as the Dash’s new Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. Prior to joining the Dash, Kessel’s sports industry experience included serving as the Vice President for ESPN where he led a 150-person business unit in the outdoors space. He also directed an impressive portfolio of sports marketing assets for Lowe’s where he worked with several MLB, NBA and NFL teams. His team at Lowe’s was also responsible for the rebranding of Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway and the signing of seven-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson. More recently, Kessel led the marketing and communication efforts for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and its $100 million dollar sponsorship of the Series.
Corey Cook and Tomas Miller joined the team as Business Development Representatives, Taylor Hodges and Zach Walker have been added as Ticket Sales & Services Representatives, Andrew Key as the Corporate Partnerships Assistant, and Mario Fischer as the Box Office Assistant.