The San Diego Padres have named former catcher Rod Barajas as the new field manager for the El Paso Chihuahuas. He was awarded the job on Thursday and is very excited at the opportunity to manage at the minor league highest level. Barajas is a California native having played baseball in Orange County.
He is only the Chihuahuas third manager in franchise history. The 40-year-old Barajas started the 2015 season as the hitting coach for High Class A Lake Elsinore. He was promoted to manager of the Double-A San Antonio team after the Padres promoted Pat Murphy to their major league managerial position. He did well in San Antonio.
Barajas ironically enough played in El Paso as a minor leaguer in 1999. He was in the Arizona Diamondback system and hit .318 with 14 home runs and 95 runs batted in. 16 years later he gets a chance to return to the city in a different capacity.
Barajas played 14 years in the major leagues for seven different organizations. He was described a defensive catcher with some power. He totaled 136 home runs in the big leagues. Hitting 21 in 2005 as a Texas Ranger. The big right-handed hitter played in 1,114 games when his career ended in 2012 with the Pirates.
It is no surprise that the former catcher was asked to fill the role of manager. More often that not catchers are picked for managerial positions. They have the ability to relate to both the pitchers on the field as well as the hitters in the batters box. Barajas will surely be successful in his role as manager.
He is described as a very loose manager and prefers his team to have fun while playing the game. That type of managerial style should work well with the younger players on the Chihuahuas roster. He takes over a roster that will be a nice mix of veteran and young up and comers.
If Austin Hedges is demoted as expected with the trade of Christian Bethancourt, expect Barajas to work well with Hedges and develop him even more. Barajas has a great history of working well with catcher and could do wonder for Hedges who is almost complete as a major leaguer.
On the last game of the season in 1999 Rod Barajas hit his first home run of his major league career against the Padres. It was a line-drive to center field off of Heath Murray. Barajas struggled to stay in the major leagues and always worked hard for every opportunity he was granted. He was a true grinder in a sport that will kill the timid. His tenacity and perseverance will translate well in a leaders role.