Since early May, we’ve been clamoring about bringing up the young players from triple-A or, in Scott Kingery’s case, double-A. The Phillies finally called up Nick Williams, after a year and a half in triple-A, and Rhys Hoskins and Kingery are excelling in Lehigh Valley.
With Hoskins leading the way, the IronPigs boast a 55-34 record in the International League, just a half-game behind the Yankees’ affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But the resume that record gets bestowed upon is that of first-year manager Dusty Wathan.
Wathan took over for Dave Brundage, who was ousted as manager after four years with the team. Brundage led the Pigs to a 84-59 record last season that included a playoff berth, the team’s first since 2011. “We just felt it was time to make a change,” was general manager Matt Klentak’s response when asked about the decision. That’s seemingly high praise for Wathan, who was thrust into leading a playoff team that oozed talent.
Before Wathan started his managerial career, he played for the Kansas City Royals back in 2002 for three games. He spent time in four different organizations, including the Phillies in 2006. He played triple-A ball for eight seasons. Wathan went into coaching in 2008, starting in Williamsport. His path has been no different than his players, managing at every level in the minors, including a five-year stint in Reading, where he’s the all-time winningest manager. His last two seasons in Reading he was 169-113, which led to two playoff appearances. He’s been to the playoffs four times in nine seasons as manager, and is about to make that five trips.
Much like Ryne Sandberg in 2012 and 2013, Wathan is starting to gain some recognition for his success. He’s just 43 years old with experience and connections. The Phillies added Sandberg to the coaching staff (third base coach and infield instructor) in 2013, with one-year remaining on Charlie Manuel’s contract. Though the Phillies didn’t admit it, many speculated that the move was to have Manuel’s heir apparent right behind him, ready to step in place.
Barring an epic collapse, he’ll be making his third-straight playoff appearance with the Phils’ future. Could it be that Wathan is, too, the future of the Phillies? Time will tell, but it’s clear that Wathan can win. Just like many of Wathan’s players, it’s a matter of when, not if he’ll be a big league manager.