The Salt Lake Bees gathered in the Smith’s Ballpark outfield for a photo Tuesday, and Media Day observers scanned the faces in an effort to locate the team’s new manager.
Lou Marson blended right into the rows of players. He’s 32, and looks even younger than some of the Bees. Veteran catcher Dustin Garneau is only 14 months younger than Marson.
That’s the way Marson likes it. He’s happy to be managing Triple-A players in Salt Lake City, as opposed to working at a lower level such as Orem in the Los Angeles Angels organization.
“I don't know how well I would do with the really young kids, babysitting,” he said.
Marson, having been promoted from the Double-A Mobile (Ala.) BayBears after his first season as a manager, will wait for the Angels’ kids to come to him. The Bees will open the franchise’s 25th anniversary season Thursday at Albuquerque with the usual mix of veterans and prospects, plus the promise that a restocked Angels system should provide some rising stars at some point.
The Salt Lake Bees' schedule, to begin the 2019 season:
Opening series: Five games at Albuquerque, beginning Thursday.
Opening homestand: Three games vs. Fresno, beginning Tuesday (6:35 p.m.); four games vs. Sacramento.
Right-handed pitcher Griffin Canning will start the season with the Bees, after quickly reaching the Triple-A level last summer. He’s the Angels’ No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. No. 1 prospect Jo Adell’s timetable is slowed by a weird combination of injuries, having hurt his ankle and hamstring while rounding second base in an Angels spring training game in March. When he’s healthy, Adell likely will be assigned to Mobile, where outfielder Brandon Marsh (No. 3) and infielder Jahmai Jones (No. 4) will begin the year.
The top prospects with the Bees right now are left-hander Jose Suarez (No. 5), second baseman Luis Rengifo (No. 7) and first baseman Matt Thaiss (No. 8). Third baseman Taylor Ward, who batted .352 in 60 games for the Bees last season before joining the Angels, is back in town.
Marson will mange them, only three years after he realized in spring training with the Angels that his career never would be the same because of a shoulder injury. Otherwise, he would have played for the Bees in 2016, hoping to extend his six-year tenure in the major leagues with Philadelphia and Cleveland. Known as an outstanding thrower from behind the plate, Marson has a standard joke about the injury's effect: “I couldn't even throw a party anymore.”
So he transitioned to coaching, becoming the Bees' hitting coach in 2017 and Mobile's manager in 2018. That's a quick ascent in the profession. Former big-league infielder David Newhan, Marson's successor in Mobile, is 13 years older.
Six former catchers, including the Angels’ Brad Ausmus, are big-league managers — and Ausmus replaced another one, Mike Scioscia.
The preparation for catchers becoming managers stems from “relating with the pitchers, being on top of little details throughout the game, signs — just everything that goes with being a major-league player, you’ve got to tackle as a catcher,” Marson said. “It’s helped me so far.”