Schatzley wins Southern League Manager of the Year

Trash Pandas manager, closer named best in Southern League
Andy Schatzley (pictured) named 2022-23 Southern League Manager of The Year for the Rocket...
Andy Schatzley (pictured) named 2022-23 Southern League Manager of The Year for the Rocket City Trash Pandas(WAFF)
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 9:35 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - After leading Rocket City Trash Pandas to the top record in the Southern League, two members of the 2022 squad have been recognized for their achievements.

On Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced that Trash Pandas Manager Andy Schatzley was named Southern League Manager of the Year and closer Eric Torres was named to the Southern League All-Star team as the league’s best reliever. Both winners were selected in a vote by the eight Southern League managers.

“This award is a reflection of the work we were able to do as a group,” Schatzley said. “I’m grateful to have had a chance to be a part of this staff, and extremely grateful for everything our players did and continue to do.”

The honor is the first in the professional career for both Schatzley and Torres, as Torres becomes the second Trash Pandas player to be named a Southern League All-Star after third baseman Mitch Nay became the first All-Star in the 2021 season.

In his second season as a professional manager, Schatzley guided the Trash Pandas to an 81-57 record, ending the regular season as both first and second half division champions while finishing with the second-best record in all of Double-A as the Trash Pandas reached the playoffs for the first time. The Trash Pandas were even better at Toyota Field, finishing with a home record of 49-20 for the most home wins in Minor League Baseball.

Schatzley, 38, becomes the first Trash Pandas manager to earn the award, which was previously won four times by Huntsville Stars managers, most recently by Don Money in 2007.

Pitching in his first full professional season, Torres became one of Schatzley’s biggest weapons out of the Rocket City bullpen. Over 42 relief outings in the regular season, Torres went 2-2 with a 1.59 ERA, allowing just nine earned runs over 51.0 innings while striking out 81 and recording 22 saves in 23 opportunities. He also pitched in two playoff games for the Trash Pandas, giving up one run over three innings with four strikeouts.

“It’s extremely well deserved for Eric. It’s beyond impressive to have the season he had at any point in his career,” Schatzley said of Torres. “To do it in his first full professional season is even more impressive. I can’t think of anybody as deserving of this honor of Eric.”

Torres’ 22 saves led the Southern League and set a new Angels Double-A record, topping the previous high of 21 set by Jose Musset for Midland in 1993. His 81 strikeouts ranked third among Southern League relievers and 35 of his 42 regular season outings were scoreless in a terrific season for the 23-year-old.

Currently ranked as the Angels’ number 28 prospect by, Torres finished the first no-hitter in Trash Pandas history on September 3, firing a scoreless ninth inning with three strikeouts to complete an 8-0 win over Biloxi at Toyota Field. He was originally selected by the Angels in the 14th round of the 2021 MLB draft out of Kansas State University.

The Trash Pandas return for the third season in franchise history in 2023, with Opening Night set for Thursday, April 6 against the Chattanooga Lookouts.