Several Aviators players have been honored by the Pacific Coast League for their individual performances this year. And now their leader has received some well-deserved recognition of his own.
Fran Riordan, who is in his second season as a Triple-A manager and his first with Las Vegas, was named PCL Manager of the Year on Tuesday following a vote of the league's managers, media, broadcasters and team officials. It's the first time Riordan, who is in his 18th season as a professional baseball skipper, has been named Manager of the Year.
Under Riordan, the Aviators have posted an 80-53 record, and they hold a three-game lead in the PCL's Pacific Southern Division with seven games remaining in the regular season. Despite nearly constant roster shuffling, Las Vegas has been especially good over the past month, going 21-8 since July 26.
Riordan, 44, is the third manager in Las Vegas franchise history to win PCL Manager or the Year, following Brad Mills in 2002 and Wally Backman in 2014.
"It's a wonderful honor, especially knowing how many outstanding managers there are in the Pacific Coast League," Riordan said. "At the same time, I know this award is a reflection of our talented roster. If you have really good players, you're going to win a lot of games, and if you win a lot of games, the manager is going to get recognized. So really, this award belongs to our players."
Riordan spent 13 seasons as a manager or player/manager for four different independent-league squads before joining the Oakland A's organization in 2015. After guiding Low-A Beloit (Wisconsin) of the Midwest league in 2015 and 2016, the A's elevated Riordan to Double-A Midland (Texas) for the 2017 season. Charged with grooming several of Oakland's top prospects - including current Aviators Sean Murphy, Jorge Mateo, Sheldon Neuse and Ben Bracewell - Riordan guided Midland to the 2017 Texas League championship.
The following season, the Buffalo, New York, native was promoted to Triple-A Nashville, where last season he led the Sounds to a 72-68 record and a second-place finish in the American Southern Division. As of Monday, Riordan is 1,021-978 as a minor-league manager, including 152-121 at the Triple-A level.
In winning his first Manager of the Year award, he beat out eight other managers who received votes, including Round Rock's Mickey Story, who placed second.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.