Semoball

Catfish GM makes rare appearance back on the bench and 'really loves it'

Cape Catfish General Manager Mark Hogan serves as a bench coach for the team during a game against Jackson (Tenn.) earlier this summer at Capaha Field.
Tom Davis ~ Tdavis@semoball.com

There have been zero questions raised as to how first-year manager Scott Little has guided the Cape Catfish this summer.

The team has seemingly found a way to build upon its reputation as the best franchise in the Prospect League, by getting off to the winningest start in league history.

The Catfish won their first 12 games of the summer, which allowed them to cruise to the Prairie Land Division title in the first half, thus securing the team’s third postseason berth in four seasons of existence.

Cape is currently 28-12 overall (best in the league) and 6-6 in the second half, as it travels to Alton (14-26 overall, 5-9 second half) tonight at 6:35 p.m.

Little has done a phenomenal job of getting his players to perform to their potential, however, on a rare handful of occasions this season, Catfish General Manager Mark Hogan has had to put the uniform back on and serve as either a bench coach or (for one game recently) manager, and he enjoyed the experience.

“It’s like putting on an old pair of shoes,” Hogan said of working a bench again. “I really love it.”

Now, tap the brakes on any thoughts roaming around your head. Hogan “really loves it” on a limited basis, he would probably feel differently if it were for 58 nights each summer. But having said that, the winningest baseball coach in Southeast Missouri State history still enjoys watching a game from the dugout and interacting with the players.

“It’s like wearing a nice pair of slippers,” Hogan said. “I am honored to work with a group like this. They make it easy.”

The Catfish lead the Prospect League in on-base percentage (.416) and rank second in seven other offensive categories (runs scored, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, batting average, and slugging percentage).

“They are responsive kids,” Hogan said of the team that he spent nine months constructing. “They care and their record shows that their behavior off the field shows that they care.”

On the pitching mound, Cape has given up the fewest runs in the league (168), earned runs (140), ERA (3.71), and WHIP (1.41), while ranking second in strikeouts (366), walks allowed (173, which is just one behind the league leader), and hits (307) through 40 games.

“This is an exemplary group,” Hogan said. “For me, you dream about this type of thing. You never know when you put it together how it is going to turn out.”

The Catfish had the best manager in the Prospect League in Steve Larkin through its initial three years (2020 was canceled due to COVID) and Little and several returning players (Chris Hall, Bryce Morgan, Kolten Poorman, Lane Crowden, Marshall Brown, and Dante Zamudio) have somehow built on that success.

“We have a pretty good template here,” Hogan said. “I love retention, as long as it is the right guys. I say this respectfully, they are all great kids, but we don’t ask everybody to come back.

“The reason for that is that we want guys who we feel can impact a new group and get them on the (right) page quickly.”

The team returns to Capaha Field on Tuesday against Clinton (23-14, 7-3) at 6:35 p.m.

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