Kruzel to Return as State College Spikes Manager in 2018

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Joe Kruzel will return to the bench for a second straight year as State College Spikes manager, the St. Louis Cardinals announced this week.

(Photo of Joe Kruzel. Photo courtesy of State College Spikes)

Kruzel joins returning hitting coach Roger LaFrancois, new pitching coach Adrian Martin, and new strength and conditioning coach Don Trapp on the Spikes’ 2018 coaching staff.

Kruzel guided the Spikes to their fifth consecutive 40-win season in 2017 and served as the manager of the South squad in the 2017 New York-Penn League All-Star Game at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy, New York.

The Hamilton, Ohio resident enters his sixth season as a manager, and 11th season as a coach, in the professional ranks. Prior to joining the Spikes, Kruzel took the Single-A Peoria Chiefs to two playoff berths in three seasons from 2014-16 and led the Rookie-level Johnson City Cardinals in 2013.

“We are thrilled that Joe and Roger will be back with us in 2018,” said Spikes General Manager Scott Walker. “Both of them have endeared themselves to Spikes fans, and along with the additions of Adrian and Don, we can’t wait to see what they have planned for this summer.”

LaFrancois enters his fourth season with the Spikes. The Old Saybrook, Connecticut native has mentored the highest-scoring offense in the NYPL in each of the last two seasons, with the Spikes producing 356 runs in 2017 and 378 runs in 2016.

LaFrancois also tutored 2017 NYPL batting champion Evan Mendoza to a .324 average, with another pupil in Yariel Gonzalez producing a league-leading 42 runs batted in.

A former catcher for the Boston Red Sox, LaFrancois once again carries over 25 years of professional coaching experience to the Spikes’ bench.

Martin makes his debut as a professional pitching coach in 2018 after serving as a coach with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds last year. Martin logged a 56-31 career record with a 3.46 ERA over 12 professional seasons on the mound, primarily with the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants organizations.

The Tampa, Florida resident is also familiar with the NYPL, having gone 1-1 with a 3.05 ERA over 22 appearances for the Auburn Doubledays in 2005.

Darwin Marrero, who served as Spikes pitching coach for the past three seasons and helped lead the Spikes’ staff to the 2016 NYPL championship, has been promoted to become the pitching coach for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals.

Trapp joins the Spikes for his first season as strength and conditioning coach in the Cardinals organization. He replaces Jordan Brown, who is now working an assistant strength & conditioning coach with Campbell University athletic teams in Buies Creek, North Carolina.

The Cardinals have not yet announced the Spikes’ athletic trainer for the 2018 season.

The Spikes return for an All-Star summer at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, with the 2018 New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Tuesday, August 14 serving as the centerpiece of a jam-packed schedule that begins with the Home Opener on Saturday, June 16. The Spikes will host 39 nights of fun, affordable family entertainment through August 31.

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