03/08/2017 8:48 PM
The Cleburne Railroaders have named Gabe Suarez their field manager for their inaugural season.
The 32-year-old Suarez has spent 11 years in professional baseball beginning in 2004 when he was drafted by the Montreal Expos — now the Washington Nationals. Most of his time was spent in the minor leagues.
He later played for minor league teams associated with the Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers. Additionally, in 2013 he played for Team Spain in the World Baseball Classic.
Suarez’s most recent job was field manager for the former American Association of Independent Professional Baseball team the Joplin Blasters.
Now that the Blasters are no longer a team Suarez was open to hire, Railroaders President Robbie Fenyes said.
He said hiring someone with so much experience was a great opportunity for the team. The field manager plays a major role in the team’s development.
“He’s a good evaluator of players,” Fenyes said.
He said Suarez was invited to a workout with the Texas Rangers at their training camp in Arizona, where he was able to evaluate Major League prospects and will attend a workout with the Arizona Diamondbacks to do the same. These opportunities could turn up prospects for the Railroaders, should those teams pass on players.
Fenyes said it would be great to have a crack at Major League-level players.
He also said Suarez liked to get involved in the community. “He has a winning attitude that’s infectious.”
“I look forward to opening a new chapter of professional baseball in Cleburne, and continue that tradition of excellence that began so many years ago,” Suarez said. “I am honored to be named the manager of the Cleburne Railroaders.”
Suarez was in town this past weekend during team tryouts, Fenyes said, and some of those players might get signed to the team.
“The tryouts were really encouraging,” Suarez said. “We picked up three guys.”
He said that Joplin was the first AAIPB team he has managed, although he had managed some smaller teams. He said he was excited to get to manage the inaugural season for the Railroaders.
Besides workouts with major league teams, Suarez said he’s been scouting players all over, including in California, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
He’s been impressed with the quality of players he’s seen, including a couple who have played at the major league level
He said he was confident the Railroaders will be able to compete in their first year in the league.
“The quality of baseball is very, very high,” he said.
He was also impressed with the team’s stadium, which he saw on when he was conducting the tryouts.
“It’s a lot more fan interactive” than other stadiums, he said. In one area fans will be able to high-five the players. And even the upper-level seating is close to the action.
“It’s great to get a professional like Gabe who has a passion to win and a passion to be part of the community makes him a great fit,” said Cleburne graduate and country music singer Randy Rogers, a member of the Railroaders ownership group, in a statement.