FEBRUARY 11, 2020, HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point Rockers announced today the completion of their coaching staff for the 2020 season. Joining manager Jamie Keefe for the team’s second season will be Pitching Coach, Frank Viola, Bench Coach and Director of Player Procurement, Billy Horn, Bullpen Coach, Albert Gonzalez, and Assistant Coach, Bubber Birdsong. This is the same group of leadership that took the Rockers to the postseason in 2019, becoming the first expansion team in Atlantic League history to reach the playoffs in their inaugural year.
“Our staff was a huge part of the success we enjoyed in 2019. Every guy had a key role that they excelled in, which only made us better on the field,” said Rockers manager Jamie Keefe. “When you have guys like Frank, Billy, Albert, Bubber, and now Tyler Ladendorf, it makes your life as a manager easy. More importantly, these are great human beings and people you want to be around each and every day.
After guiding a pitching staff that led the league in Earned Run Average (3.74) Walks/Hits Per Inning (1.25), and ranked third in strikeouts (1,043), Frank Viola returns to lend his expertise for another season. Under his tutelage in 2019, pitchers Ashur Tolliver, Brian Clark, and Sam Runion were all named to the 2019 Liberty Division All-Star team, while pitchers Seth Maness and Alberto Baldonado performed well enough to have his contracts purchased midseason. The 1987 World Series MVP & 1988 Cy Young Award winner has also helped develop such Major League talent as Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and 2018 Cy Young winner Jacob DeGrom.
“I am excited to be back for year two. Our inaugural season brough us a playoff spot and this year we’re hoping to step forward and get to the championship,” Viola commented. “We look forward to having you all come out and continue to build on what has been started. Your support means the world to all of us.”
A key member of the staff, Billy Horn will not only assist with gameplay decisions as Bench Coach, his role as Director of Player Procurement will be vital to overall makeup of the Rockers roster. A veteran of Independent Baseball, Horn has served as a pitching coach and manager in different indy leagues, including as pitching coach of the 2017 Long Island Ducks. His abilities as a talent evaluator ensures that High Point is able to put the highest quality team on the field every night. Horn also runs Meet-A-Prospect, an organization that runs multiple camps and tryouts across the country to help players connect, and sign, with professional teams.
“Returning to High Point is not only a great thrill, but a tremendous honor,” said Horn. “Working alongside Jamie, Frank, Albert, Bubber, and (Rockers Assistant GM) Christian Heimall makes for another fun season vying for a championship. Our inaugural season was a great success but having come short of a league title will make the organization that much hungrier entering the 2020 campaign.”
One of the hardest working men in professional baseball, Albert Gonzalez will serve as the Bullpen Coach for 2020, the same role he held in 2019. Gonzalez will be responsible to catching all bullpen sessions for Rockers players, assisting in the development of a pitchers mental and physical approach to the game. A former High Point University baseball player, this is his fourth season with Jamie Keefe, having served in a similar capacity for two seasons with the Rockland Boulders.
“I’m privileged and honored to be returning to High Point for my second season with the Rockers and fourth with Jamie,” explained Gonzalez. “I’m looking forward to working closely, and receiving continued guidance, from my fellow coaches. My goal is to bring another successful season to the fans of High Point as we look to make a deep run in the Atlantic League.”
Bubber Birdsong is a longtime High School baseball coach, having steered prestigious programs like Abbeville Christian Academy in Alabama, Baconton Community Charter in Georgia, and Headland High School in Alabama. His wealth of knowledge, and report with players and coaches alike, adds an extra dimension to the Rockers staff to assist in the dog days of summer.
“I’m looking forward to my second season, with best organization with the best fans, in the Atlantic League,” Birdsong commented.
The 2020 coaching staff will also include infielder Tyler Landendorf as a player/coach for the season. The 2019 Atlantic League All-Star will assist Rockers hitters with day-to-day preparation while also furthering his leadership role with the club. High Point begins their second season of play on Thursday, April 30th when they host Southern Maryland at 7:00pm at BB&T Point. Fans can secure their tickets for another exciting campaign by purchasing season tickets or booking a group outing by calling (336) 888-1000 or sliding to HighPointRockers.com.
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