Jeff Treadway never has been more content.
The former Atlanta Braves infielder who served as the GreenJackets' hitting coach last season, Treadway is enjoying his first season as a minor league manager with the Macon Braves.
For the first time since his big-league career ended in 1995, the 36-year-old Treadway has found his niche in baseball.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates hired Treadway prior to the 1998 season to work under Jackets manager Marty Brown, the club knew he had the makings of a successful minor-league manager.
This off-season, the Pirates offered Treadway the chance to manage the South Atlantic League's Hickory Crawdads. He held out hoping for a return to the Braves organization.
That chance came when the Braves promoted Brian Snitker, who managed Macon the past two seasons, to Myrtle Beach of the high-Class A Carolina League.
"I'm having a lot of fun for several reasons," said Treadway, who makes him home in Griffin, Ga. "I'm closer to home now, so things have been easier as far as commuting, and the Braves organization is where I spent most of my playing career, and that makes it a lot of fun, too. I know a lot of people in this organization, and I feel real comfortable here."
In Macon, Treadway is blessed with an abundance of talent, and is relishing the chance to work with some of the organization's top young prospects.
"This is a special group of kids," Treadway said. "These nine guys you see out on the field are legitimate prospects. Some of these guys will be playing in the big leagues soon, for sure."
Treadway is most excited about Rafael Furcal, an 18-year-old Dominican the Braves believe will be the shortstop of the future in Atlanta.
Furcal batted .326 at rookie Danville last season and shattered the Appalachian League record with 60 stolen bases. Through Friday, Furcal was eighth in the SAL in batting with a .327 average and led the league with 40 steals.
"Furcal is a catalyst for this team; he can do a lot of things," Treadway said. "A lot of managers ask about him. He's exciting and has huge potential for playing in the big leagues."
Several of last year's Jackets are in the midst of breakout years in Hickory.
Catcher Rico Washington, a native of Gray, Ga., and the cousin of major leaguers Willie Greene and Rondell White, leads the SAL with a .371 average to go with 10 homers and 36 RBI.
Jonathan Prieto, who played briefly with the Jackets last season, is second in the league in hitting at .348.
First baseman Carlos Rivera, a SAL All-Star with the Jackets in 1997 who struggled in Augusta last season, is fourth in the league with a .330 average and has belted six home runs with 40 RBI, good for third in the league.
Jovanny Sosa, a 19-year-old outfielder who batted .226 in 93 at-bats in Augusta last season, is second in the league with 14 homers and is fourth with a .601 slugging percentage.