For Wichita Wingnuts General Manager Josh Robertson it was like Déjà vu all over again. A decade ago he lured former major leaguer Kevin Hooper off the diamond and into the dugout, and Hooper led the team to three straight trips to the American Association championship series, winning it all in 2014. Based on his past success, it was no surprise when Robertson decided to hire Brent Clevlen as the new manager of the Wingnuts.
Clevlen has spent parts of the last six seasons in a Wichita uniform and is the team’s career leader in several offensive categories, including RBI, runs, doubles, and homers. Clevlen was named by the Minor League Sports Report as the MVP of the American Association in 2014 when he led the league in hitting and RBI.
Last season, Brent Clevlen hit .302 in 94 games, with 77 runs scored and 78 RBI. He also set a career high in doubles with 34. Despite the success, the Wingnuts star thought it was time to pursue a different path in his career.
“I’ve expressed interest in eventually moving on to coaching or managing at some point. Obviously, the timing was right, I was getting toward the end of my career, and the opportunity came about. They reached out to me and I decided to take it. I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to be the manager here.”
While happy to be named as the team’s manager, is there a possibility that Clevlen could become a player-manager?
“I hope not. If that happens, we may be in a lot of trouble,” the new Wingnuts manager explains with a laugh.
Brent Clevlen becomes the fourth manager in team history, replacing Pete Rose, Jr., who led the team to the American Association title series in his first year in the Wichita dugout, 2016, and helped guide the team to a return trip to the championship series last year, where the team fell in five games after having the series stolen from them in Game 4. Rose was 131-68 as the manager.
This will be Clevlen’s first season as a manager at any level.
By Robert Pannier