(Rochester, Minn.)— The Rochester Honkers announced today the hiring of Ben Stephenson as their third coach for the 2016 season. Stephenson will serve under second-year Field Manager, Trevor Hairgrove and assist returning Pitching Coach, Demetre Kokoris this summer.
Stephenson, 28, comes to the Honkers after spending three seasons working in professional baseball. He has been on the minor league coaching staffs assuming the role as the Video Coach and on-field operations for the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and most recently the Chattanooga Lookouts, the AA Affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
"I am truly excited and grateful for this opportunity with the Honkers," says Stephenson. "It's not only the opportunity to coach in a league like the Northwoods which has the reputation for a high level of baseball talent that attracted me to this position, but it was also that when I talked with Trevor Hairgrove, we seemed to be very like-minded in our baseball philosophy and how we think this team should be ran."
Stephenson has been all hands on deck working with players and coaches with video, leading advanced scouting reports, throwing BP, catching bullpens, and anywhere else the staff needed assistance. In 2015, Stephenson helped the Chattanooga Lookouts win their first Southern League Championship since 1988. Stephenson has worked directly helping many prospects who ultimately reached the Major Leagues including Miguel Sano (MIN), Byron Buxton (MIN), Max Kepler (MIN), Tyler Duffy (MIN), Elias Diaz (PIT), John Holdzkom (PIT), Keon Broxton (MIL), Ryan Weber (ATL), Tommy La Stella (CHC), and Kyle Kubitza (LAA).
“I really like what I heard from Ben in terms of his beliefs in how he’d like to run a team and what was important to him,” said Hairgrove. “I really like that he’s been at the next level, and can share his experiences and beliefs with our team. He just came from AA and our guys will respect and listen to what he has to share with them!”
Prior to working in professional baseball, Stephenson spent 2011 as an assistant coach for Springfield College, where he played two of his four college seasons. Before transferring to Springfield, the former catcher played his first two years at the Savannah College of Art & Design where the Bees went to back-to-back NAIA Super Regionals from 2006-2007.
“My passion and motivation comes from trying to help every player achieve their dreams of reaching the next level,” added Stephenson. “I’ve seen what it takes to get to the next level and I will do whatever I can to motivate the Honkers this season to obtain not only a NWL Championship, but to reach that dream.”
The Rochester Honkers 23rd season begins on May 31st when the team travels to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to take on the Express. The following night, Wednesday, June 1st, the Honkers battle the Express in their home opener at Mayo Field at 7:05 pm. Season Tickets, Bonus Books, Suites and Patios are now available. Call the Rochester Honkers office at 507-289-1170 for more information. The Honkers are also looking for host families for the 2016 season and ask all interested parties to call the business office for more information.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 22-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 140 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com.