Bowling Green, KY - The Bowling Green Hot Rods in conjunction with their parent club, the Tampa Bay Rays, announce that both manager Reinaldo Ruiz and pitching coach Bill Moloney will return to the Commonwealth and headline the club's field staff for the 2017 Midwest League season.
To build off of a 2016 campaign that ultimately led to a second-half division title and the first Midwest League playoff win in franchise history, Ruiz and Moloney will be joined by coaches Joe Szekely and Hector Torres along with athletic trainer James Ramsdell to round out the staff.
"We are thrilled to have Reinaldo and Bill returning this season to Bowling Green," said Hot Rods General Manager/COO Eric Leach. "Last year was the best season we've ever had, both on and off the field, and they were a huge reason why. Can't wait to see what 2017 has in store."
The 2017 season will mark Ruiz's third season in Southcentral Kentucky and eighth as a coach with the Tampa Bay Rays. During his first season as manager, Ruiz led the Hot Rods to a 69-69 record; his team featured a Midwest League best eight all-stars and a franchise record eleven in-season player promotions.
Last season, he led the Hot Rods to the best season in team history with a franchise-record 84 wins, a Midwest League East division title in the second half and the first playoff victory in franchise history.
Under Ruiz, Hot Rods third basemen Kevin Padlo was selected to the Midwest League Postseason All-Star team and Brett Sullivan, Michael Russell and Joe McCarthy were chosen by the Rays as organizational all-stars in 2016.
"I am excited and privileged to return for my third season as the manager of the Hot Rods," said Ruiz of his return. "My first year was a great experience for me and my family and my second year was even better with what we were able to accomplish on the field. I love the fans and the front office and can't wait to get back to Bowling Green and be at the ballpark everyday."
Ruiz, a Venezuela native, made stops in the Gulf Coast League, New York-Penn League and Appalachian League as a coach for the Rays before arriving in Bowling Green. Originally drafted by the Houston Astros in 1996 as an international free agent, the former catcher began his career stateside in 2001, reaching as high as High-A Salem during his playing career back in 2005.
Bill Moloney returns to Bowling Green for his fourth consecutive season. Under his direction, the Hot Rods pitching staff posted a team earned run average of 3.50 or under for the second straight year. He also saw five of his pitchers receive in-season promotions and helped both Genesis Cabrera and Diego Castillo earn a spot on the 2016 Midwest League East Midseason All-Star team. The 2017 season will mark Moloney's eleventh season with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Along with Ruiz and Moloney, James Ramsdell returns to the Hot Rods for his second straight season as part of the field staff. Prior to his tenure in Bowling Green, he spent two seasons as the athletic trainer for the Princeton Rays (Appalachian League). Ramsdell is a graduate of Salem State University and East Carolina University and began working with the Rays in 2013.
Joining the trio of 2016 returnees, coaches Hector Torres and Joe Szekely will fill out the rest of the field staff.
Torres, who was with the Hot Rods as a coach in 2009, returns to Bowling Green after seven consecutive seasons as a coach with the GCL Rays. The Monterey, Mexico native has been working in the Rays system for the last decade, in various capacities. As a player, Torres spent nine years in the big leagues, playing 622 games with five teams from 1968 to 1977.
Joe Szekely joins the Hot Rods staff for his first year in Bowling Green in his thirteenth season coaching in the Tampa Bay Rays system. In 2005, Szekely began his Rays tenure as a manager in the Midwest League with the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays. He then went on to serve as the manager for the Visalia Oaks (2006), Vero Beach Devil Rays (2007) and Princeton Rays (2008) before spending the last eight years as a coach with the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
Aside from coaching, the Paris, Texas native was selected in the second round of the 1982 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. He played 832 games over a span of ten seasons, reaching as high as Triple-A in 1989. His father, also named Joe, was a longtime baseball player and coach who reached the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 1953 for five games.
The Hot Rods open their ninth season in Southcentral Kentucky on Thursday, April 6 at Bowling Green Ballpark against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Mini-plans and season tickets are now available for the 2017 season at the Hot Rods front office and online at BGHotRods.com.
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