Leaving one job and starting another typically requires a transition period, unless your name is Kevin Bradshaw and you already have 15 years of managerial experience under your belt.
In the midst of his job as the Field Coach for the Gulf Coast League Orioles, Bradshaw got a phone call saying he was the new manager of the Aberdeen IronBirds.
"It's something I've done before so the transition was only just getting on a plane and getting up to Burlington, Vermont," Bradshaw said. "As a rover, the good thing is you get to move around and see all the teams and see all the different faces, but it is a lot nicer when you can come to the ballpark each day."
A minor league infielder from 1986-1989 in the Detroit Tigers organization, Bradshaw got his start in coaching the following year in 1990, and later got his first managerial gig in 1994 with the Bristol Tigers, Detroit's Rookie-level affiliate. Bradshaw was named the 2000 Dwight Lowry Award Winner as the Tiger's Player Development Man of the Year after taking the Gulf Coast League Tigers to a second-place finish in the Eastern Division with a 34-26 record, and has won two championships as a manager, one in 2007 with the North Shore Honu in the Hawaii Winter League and the other two years later in the Arizona Fall League with the Peoria Javelinas.
Before becoming the field coach for the GCL Orioles, Bradshaw was a minor league infield coordinator with the Tigers from 2013-2014, and held the same title with the Orioles in 2015. Bradshaw has managed at five different levels and totaled 562 career wins before becoming the IronBird's manager.
But at this level, Bradshaw says it's not all about the wins and losses; his focus is primarily player development.
"At this level you want to win, but it's all about the process, the development process, and I know myself it's probably 90/10 development over winning," Bradshaw said. "But at the same time as I say that, when these guys walk in that door they know they are expected to win, and sometimes that doesn't happen because of the development, but to be a successful team, a successful organization, you have to combine that winning with that development. You got to create players that are going to get up to the big leagues and know how to win ballgames."
Since coming to Aberdeen, Bradshaw says he has been impressed at the surprisingly young squad he has, but also knows his players still have plenty of learning to do in their baseball careers.
"I don't know in my personal experience of having three or four 18-year-olds on a New York-Penn League team, that's unheard of, so they're going to take their lumps," Bradshaw said. "You see a bunch of young position players, that, in my opinion, they're going to have a tough time scoring some runs, we're going to have to manufacture some runs, were going to have to put down some bunts, some hit and runs, squeezes…and we have done that for the most part."
While it might have been simple for Bradshaw to ease into his new role, he recognizes it is not as straightforward for his players. He has gotten creative since joining the team, having some of his players work on more individually-based drills before batting practice each day.
"These guys have busy days, they really do, people don't realize how early we get to the ballpark and how much work they really do," Bradshaw said in regards to making sure the players get the necessary rest they need. "These guys are going to get tired, they aren't used to the grind everyday."
The IronBirds have moved from 10th to fifth in batting average since July 13, although they are last in runs scored of the 14 teams in the New York-Penn League; but there is hope for a turnaround in the second half of the season, as the IronBirds are only five games behind Staten Island for first place in the McNamara Division.
"You'll see a big difference in this team as a group about August 1," Bradshaw said. "They'll know the whole routine, they're going to know my routine, all the coaching staff's routines, what they're expected to do when they arrive here every day, and they're going to get better."
Stats as of 7/20/16