By Ryan McCracken on January 13, 2017.
The Medicine Hat Mavericks are putting their stock in new blood for the second season in a row.
Mavs owner and general manager Greg Morrison firmed up his new coaching staff Thursday afternoon, and the appointment of Michael Thompson as the team’s new field manager marks the team’s second-straight rookie coach to run the Western Major Baseball League franchise.
After Taylor Bratton took the Mavs to the semifinal last season, Morrison says he’s got plenty of faith in what fresh minds have to offer the game.
“You don’t have to be a pro guy to do well in a league like this and you see it with other teams in this league,” said Morrison. “For me, the resume is the starter. I want guys who are going to win and guys who can talk to players and guys who understand the technology of the game and communicating.”
While he’s fairly green when it comes to coaching, Thompson comes to the Mavericks with a rich playing history. The Houston Astros drafted the 32-year-old Mission Viejo product in the 26th round back in 2005. While he never cracked a full-time spot in the majors, he went on to become an all-star infielder in the Midwest League and the American Association and even holds AA records in fielding percentage and double plays as a third baseman.
Thompson insists some of his best years came playing north of the border, with the Quebec Capitals of the CanAm Leauge, in 2010 and 2011.
“I had my two best playing years in Quebec, so when I saw the opportunity to get a managing position back in Canada I was extremely excited,” said Thompson. “It’s great to not only be on the field every day but to be able to watch the players grow and develop and chase their dreams like I did quite a few years back.”
After a nine-year professional career, Thompson decided to remain with the game and transitioned from player to coach. While he’s spent time as head coach of various high school squads and currently serves as an assistant with California’s Vanguard University, the Mavericks will be Thompson’s first test as the manager of a college-level franchise.
“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of, it’s kind of the goal when you become a coach, to work toward a managerial position so I’m extremely excited for the opportunity,” said Thompson. “I just love being around the game. I love teaching the game to young players. I tried to get away from it a little bit toward the end of my career and something always kept drawing me back to it, but it was probably the best decision I’ve ever made, making the decision to be a full-time coach.”
The Mavericks also appointed Oklahoma product Andrew Murphy as their new assistant coach Thursday, while former pitching coach Kyle Swannack will return to his role with the Mavs this summer. Murphy is in his second year of coaching with Henderson State University in Arkansas, where he works with hitting, infielding and recruiting.
“He’s got a lot of knowledge in this game,” Thompson said of Murphy. “I’m excited to see him work with the hitters and be by my side.”
As for Medicine Hat’s recruitment, Thompson says he and Morrison are in the process of building a new roster for the 2017 WMBL season. The Mavericks should see a handful of returning players, with Zack Kunkel and Talon Kunkel slated to return and names like Anthony Calton and Logan Bima currently in the conversation. Either way, Thompson says fans can look forward to the familiar brand of fun and competitive Mavericks ball when they take to the diamond in late May.
“We have quite a few players that we’re talking to right now and it’s just going to come down to finding the right fit for us,” he said. “We’re looking for players who obviously love the game, but the goal this summer is to improve the game, work hard and be part of a championship team â€” but also to represent the organization in a manner that would make the city proud.”