Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Andy Skeels, Become Evident - 13

Originally published July 3, 2013
Andy Skeels was having a successful first professional season in 1987, both on the field and in the intangibles, according to The Los Angeles Times.

On the field, Skeels was among the league leader in doubles and RBIs. Then there was what Padres director of player and development and scouting Tom Romenesko described to The Times.

"One thing that has become evident over the course of the season," Romenesko told The Times that August, "is that he is an outstanding leader."

Skeels used his leadership skills in his decade as a pro. He never got to take those skills to the majors, but he has put them to good use in the years since, as a minor league manager.

Skeels' professional career began that year in 1987, taken by the Padres in the seventh round of the draft, out of the University of Arkansas. He went to Arkansas out of Thousand Oaks High and Oxnard College in California.

Skeels started at short-season Spokane, then moved to single-A Riverside for 1988. He stayed with the Padres through 1989, before moving to the Yankees in a trade.

Skeels had asked for the trade, according to The Times. Skeels was a catcher and the Padres had a wealth of catching, limiting his upward movement. But Skeels also understood he had to continue to prove himself.

"I've got to find out if I can play or not," Skeels told The Times in August 1989. "In our organization, I'm nobody. Their business is to play who they think is best. I'm a grown man, I can handle that. I'll be at the park tonight."

With the Yankees, the catcher made AA Albany, hitting .270 over 75 games. He stayed at Albany for 1991, getting into 65 games. He also got 14 games at AAA Columbus. Between the two levels, he hit just .233.

From there, Skeels continued playing, but his playing time was limited. He played 20 games at independent high-A Salinas in 1992, then 32 games back with the Padres at high-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Skeels then moved to independent ball, both serving as a player, a manager and both, with his last significant playing time coming in 1998.

Skeels has since moved on to serve as a hitting coach and manager in the minors. By 2008, Skeels was manager at single-A Augusta. For 2011, Skeels moved to single-A San Jose. He served as hitting coach at AAA Sacramento for 2015.

Skeels took over Augusta after two seasons as the team's hitting coach. He explained to The Augusta Chronicle his thoughts on managing.

"I expect us to do all the things it takes to win a ball game," Skeels told The Chronicle. "I think being a former catcher, you're always under the delusion that you run everything anyway. I'd rather manage because you're a little more involved, and I'm happy with the years I've worked here and thankful for the opportunity."

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