Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rogers and Miller to coach Victoria's WCL baseball team

Dennis Rogers
The owners of Victoria's yet-to-be-named West Coast League baseball team continue to show the Midas Touch. Two weeks after naming marketing whiz Holly Jones as the franchise's inaugural GM, John McLean and Dwight Willett tapped a pair of veteran baseball men to be the field managers of the team. Dennis Rogers was named the head coach and Bob Miller will serve as the "co-head" coach.

Both men are currently head coaches for college baseball teams in California and both have managed at a variety of levels. Dennis Rogers coaches at Riverside Community College, a junior college with an impressive list of alumni who have been drafted by MLB teams (including former Victoria Seal Brian Rios!). He has also managed teams in the affiliated minor leagues for seven seasons, compiling an impressive career winning percentage of .562. Rogers is also familiar with the Pacific Northwest, having managed both the Medford A's and the Vancouver Canadians in the Northwest League (Short Season "A" ball).  His new coaching partner, Bob Miller, has been the head coach at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo for the past nine seasons. You can read more about Rogers and Miller in the official press release on the team's web site.

I would expect there to be number of Victoria baseball fans who will initially respond to the hiring of Rogers and Miller with a shrug. After seeing three high-profile managers of the Victoria Seals in 2009-10 (Darrell Evans, Bret Boone and arguably even Kip Gross), some local fans may have expected another ex-big leaguer with a household name to be hired to coach our squad. That didn't happen, but that's a good thing. It merely highlights some of the key differences between the independent leagues and college wood bat leagues. Independent league teams use big-name managers to help sell tickets and lend credibility to teams made up of players in their late 20's and early 30's who may have their best days behind them. Teams in college wood bat leagues hire head coaches who can recruit top talent and then teach their young players how to play the game at the next level. Rogers and Miller clearly have the credentials to do just that.

At the press conference this morning, Rogers said that recruiting efforts are well underway and that about 10 players are committed to playing in Victoria in 2013 (eventually 25-35 players will be signed). More importantly, he has a verbal commitment from eight baseball programs to supply players to our team. He also mentioned that the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, a Division 1 NCAA team that plays in the Big West Conference, will be a key supplier of talent. Initially at least, it sounds like it will be a bit of an uphill battle to convince some programs to send us their top talent. Rogers said that a number of programs have told him they have already committed players to the Cape Cod League for 2013, but they will happily send us elite players in future years. I'd also expect that word about Victoria -- both the city and the baseball environment -- will get out by the end of the 2013 season and that recruiting will be much easier by this time next year.

Rogers intends to build a "diverse roster" of both well-known and unheralded players. He also hopes to have a number of Canadian players on the team. One obvious potential player is Toronto's Bryan Saucedo, a first baseman on the Canadian National Junior Team who will play for Rogers at Riverside Community College this season. Saucedo was drafted in June (but not signed) by the Milwaukee Brewers and he intends to re-enter the draft. He was recently quoted as saying "I’m going to Riverside City College in southern California. My goal is to play in the big leagues, and not (just) get drafted. RCC coach Dennis Rogers spent 10 years coaching pro ball. He is proven at preparing guys like the Atlanta Braves’ Tommy Hanson and the New York Yankees Chris Stewart." If that's not a ringing endorsement then I don't know what is. If players like Saucedo are lining up to play for Dennis Rogers, the Victoria "Watchamacallits" will give us plenty of reasons to cheer during our summer nights at Royal Athletic Park.

Watchamacallit Wedges (formerly "Seal Blubber Bits")
  • More than 500 submissions have been made by fans to the Name The Team Contest. The team name and logo could be announced as early as late September or early October. However, it's also possible  that a short-list of potential names could be released at that time.
  • The team will also be looking to add one or two assistant coaches prior to the start of the 2013 season.
  • In his only season playing professional baseball, Dennis Rogers played every infield position for the San Francisco Giants' Rookie League team and displayed a keen eye at the plate.  
  • Rogers warned fans not to expect too much of the team out of the gate next year, but he hopes the team can still finish the season at the .500 level.
  • Steve Garvey's son Ryan played for Dennis Rogers at Riverside Community College and was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in this year's amateur draft.

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