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Future Looks Bright for RiverDogs & Rays Organization

Rays GM Neander and 2021 RiverDogs Manager Butera Talk Shop at Introductory Press Conference
January 30, 2021

Six weeks after receiving an invitation to become one of the Tampa Bay Rays’ minor league affiliates, the Charleston RiverDogs on Friday hosted a press conference with Rays GM Erik Neander and 2021 RiverDogs manager Blake Butera as part of the team’s 2021 Hot Stove Banquet, presented by Container Maintenance

Six weeks after receiving an invitation to become one of the Tampa Bay Rays’ minor league affiliates, the Charleston RiverDogs on Friday hosted a press conference with Rays GM Erik Neander and 2021 RiverDogs manager Blake Butera as part of the team’s 2021 Hot Stove Banquet, presented by Container Maintenance Corporation.

Neander, who has been the primary architect of the Rays’ roster – which yielded both an AL Championship and top minor league system honors in 2020 – voiced the club’s enthusiasm about the RiverDogs rejoining the Rays’ dynamic farm system.

“We’re really excited. We have a lot of history here. Love the community here…It’s the perfect fit,” he said.

Neander also shared his vision for how the Rays will continue to leverage its player development department to remain competitive at the Major League level. Historically, that’s meant a focus on winning at the minor league level that has led to consistent championship-level success at nearly every classification level.

“There’s a lot of young, exciting, emerging talent throughout (the organization). I expect Charleston’s club to be right up there with the best that we have,” Neander said.

To facilitate the on-field growth of Rays prospects in Charleston, Blake Butera was announced as the RiverDogs 2021 on-field manager. Butera comes to Charleston after serving the 2018 and 2019 seasons as the manager for the Rays’ former Short-Season A affiliate the Hudson Valley Renegades – part of the same ownership group as the RiverDogs. Butera was the youngest manager in all of Minor League Baseball when he began in Hudson Valley in 2018, and will now focus his energy in Charleston.

“What we have throughout the organization…we have really good players and they’re fun to watch,” he said.

The remaining members of the 2021 RiverDogs on-field staff is expected to be announced soon. The RiverDogs expect to release a schedule for the 2021 season in the coming weeks.