American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition, Shelby Ford takes over as manager of the Cleburne Railroaders, becoming the second manager in team history.
A New Engineer Directing the Train
The Cleburne Railroaders announced on Tuesday that Manager Gabe Suarez had stepped down and that Shelby Ford would become the second manager in the team’s history. It was also announced that Greg Pruitt would return as the pitching coach for the club.
A Reputation that Proceeds Him
Shelby Ford has long been considered a managerial candidate in American Association. He was selected in the third round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2006 MLB draft, spending six seasons in the organization. In 2011, he reached AAA-Indianapolis before being granted free agency at the end of the season.
Ford then spent four years in independent baseball, first with Fort Worth (United League), then spending a year in El Paso before joining Sioux Falls in 2014. He spent two seasons with the Canaries before becoming a coach for the team. In 2016, he took over as interim manager for the final 45 games.
Last season, Shelby Ford was a player-coach for the Texas AirHogs. He appeared in two games.
The Perfect Opportunity
The opportunity to manager the Cleburne Railroaders is truly a golden one for Shelby Ford. He is a Fort Worth native and his fiancée is from the Cleburne area. It is also the opportunity to use all the lessons he has gained as a player and coach.
“Obviously being around this long, you build relationships with coaches, organizations and front office guys,” Ford explained at a press conference announcing his hiring. “You reach out and pick their brains on how to build an organization and put together the pieces to become a winner.”
The Cleburne Railroaders are coming off a solid inaugural season where they went 47-53, finishing second in the American Association South Division. Cleburne had the fourth best ERA in the league, a testament to the job that pitching coach Greg Pruitt did, so it was not a surprise that team retained him in that role for the upcoming season.
American Association Daily Notes
The Chicago Dogs added three players to their roster: OF Kyle Gaedele, IF Matt Dean, and LHP Miles Moeller. Gaedele spent the first five seasons of his professional career in the San Diego Padres organization, reaching AA-San Antonio in 2015. His last professional season was 2016, when the outfielder hit .308 in 88 games for River City (Frontier League). Matt Dean was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012, and has spent the last six seasons within their organization. He split time between AA-New Hampshire and High-A Dunedin last year. He is a career .257 in 507 games. Miles Moeller spent the last two seasons with Ottawa (Can-Am League). Last year, the lefty was 3-3 with a 4.32 ERA in 35 appearances…Kansas City signed RHP Hunter Adkins and OF Dilllon Thomas. Hunter Adkins was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2013, but never appeared for that organization. He has played in the Oakland Athletics and Miami Marlins organizations, and most recently within that of the Tampa Bay Rays. Last season, he pitched at four levels, including at AAA-Durham. Overall, the right-hander was 2-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 28 appearances in 2017. Dillon Thomas was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2011 and spent the first seven season of his professional career there. Last year, he split time between three levels, including at AAA-Albuquerque. He appeared in 98 total games, hitting .229 with 41 runs driven in…The Lincoln Saltdogs added RHP Leland Tilley. The right-hander was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016. He split time between Low-A State College and Mid-A Peoria last season where he was a combined 1-0 with a minuscule 0.55 ERA in 22 appearances…The Wichita Wingnuts continue to stockpile left-handed pitchers, adding Casey Harman on Tuesday. The lefty was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2010, but last appeared for Laredo (American Association) in 2014 when he was 6-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 17 games.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA