Coming off his lone season as the Manager for the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds in 2013, Manager Luis Pujols was named the new Manager of the High-A Frederick Keys this past February, taking over for Ryan Minor.
Though the former Major League catcher has just one year of Major League Baseball managing experience under his belt (2002, interim Detroit Tigers’ Manager), Pujols has plenty of coaching experience at the major league level.
Pujols has accumulated experience as the Montreal Expos first base coach (1993-99), bench coach (2000) and San Francisco Giants first base coach (2003-06) and Team Dominican Republic bench coach (2009 World Baseball Classic). Pujols, 68, also served two seasons as the Manager for the Corpus Christi Hooks (Double-A affiliate of the Texans Rangers) prior to his Shorebirds and Keys gigs.
“Well I’m very happy to be here and I think we’re going to have a good product on the field,” Pujols told a group of reporters on Tuesday’s Media Day. “Some of the guys played here last year and have experience, and maybe half the team played with me last year at Delmarva. And it was exciting. So hopefully we can put them both together and have a great experience this year.”
Pitching, for Pujols’ Keys squad, may be the strongest point of the roster heading into the 2014 campaign.
Pujols named his five-man rotation on Tuesday as Branden Kline, Parker Bridwell, Matt Taylor, Joe Van Meter and Brady Wager. He also spoke highly of his bullpen, which consists of names such as Matt Hobgood and Lex Rutledge.
“He’s (Kline) going to be our No. 1 guy. He’s gonna start the season in Lynchburg and, like I said, he pitched for me last season and he did well in Spring Training. It was too bad that last year he broke his leg, but he’s strong now and with the experience that he got in Arizona Fall League and Spring Training I think he’s going to do well.”
The Frederick-native and hometown hero Branden Kline, coming off a significant injury that limited him in his ’13 campaign, is looking to make a strong outing this season as the top starting pitcher in Frederick.
Behind Kline and Bridwell at the top of the rotation, it’s beginning to look as if the rest of the Carolina League has their work cut out for them heading into the 2014 season on Thursday night.
Make sure to also read the 2014 Frederick Keys Season Preview