Better Know the Farm: Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA)

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The next time you’re taking a lovely Greyhound trip around the East Coast, make sure to get off at Richmond and catch a game — The Diamond (stadium) is right across the street and has better food than that terrible bus station diner and carries great local brews.

Sorry, some things cannot be forgotten.

The Flying Squirrels history is difficult to follow: since 1972, they’ve called five stadiums home, had three affiliations (Yankees, Athletics, Giants), collected about a dozen team names, and won nine titles along the way.  The (awesome) team name was chosen through a contest in 2009 — other finalist team names were the Rock Hoppers, Hambones, Rhinos, Flatheads, and Hush Puppies.

Manager Miguel Ojeda

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Miguel Ojeda, a catcher from Mexico, enjoyed four years at the MLB level split between the Padres, Mariners, Rockies, and Rangers.  Chiefly a back-up catcher, Ojeda only went to the plate 553 times.  Perhaps his best season, 2004, also saw him get the most playing time — in 156 at bats, Ojeda put up a .751 OPS and hit eight home runs.

However, his professional playing career spanned twenty years between Mexico and the US, appearing in almost 1,500 games.  In Mexico, Ojeda found his starting job and put up several productive years.

2016 will be Ojeda’s first stint managing an American team at any level, but he spent the previous three years at the helm for the Diablos Rojos in the Mexican league.

Hitting Coach Ken Joyce

How Ken Joyce came to be a hitting coach, anywhere, is a unique story.  If you’re interested in a more detailed account, I highly suggest this article.

Joyce has never played a professional game in his life.  Not in the minors, Korea, Japan, or Mexico.  While he played through high school and college (University of Southern Maine), he got his first professional break as a bullpen catcher after a chance encounter with the manager of the Portland Sea Dogs, a AA affiliate of the Red Sox.  In just a few years he would rise to the role of hitting coach and would go on to manage or coach a half dozen teams around the minors before finding his way to the Giants.

2016 is his sixth year as the Flying Squirrels hitting coach, and his seventh year in the Giants organization.

Pitching Coach Steve Kline

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A familiar name to many Giants fans, Steve Kline had one of most successful playing careers of any of the Giants minor league coaches.  He also has a very colorful history with umpires including head butting one — as a coach.

Kline played eleven years at the major league level, nearly entirely as a reliever, throwing 682 innings and having a very respectable 3.51 career ERA in a high offense era.  He played his final two years in a San Francisco Giant uniform.

Notably, in 2012, Kline was the pitching coach for the New Zealand team in the World Baseball Classic.

As a pitching coach, Steve Kline has been in the Giants organization since 2009, first with the Augusta GreenJackets (2009 – 2011).  The following year he coached in San Jose before returning again to Augusta.  2016 marks the second year Kline will coach the Flying Squirrels.

Richmond Flying Squirrels

Flying Squirrels Current Roster

Official Site

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