MISSOULA — As a player, Brandon Riley was a catalyst in leading the Missoula PaddleHeads to a Pioneer League record two years in a row.
Now he’s using his love of the game to help direct. The Zootown pro baseball team announced earlier this week that Riley, who hit .324 last season, has joined the PaddleHeads coaching staff as an assistant to third-year manager Michael Schlact.
“Welcoming Brandon to the coaching staff is a really cool thing for us to announce,” said Schlact, who has had the highest winning percentage in all of professional baseball the past two summers. “I have always respected his uncompromising style and selfless leadership as a player.
“It’s going to be fun to watch him use those same skills as a coach. I’m very excited to see him grow in this role and we’re excited to be the launch pad for his new career path.”
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Riley, 25, is a former North Carolina Tar Heel who was drafted in the 14th round by the Cardinals in 2018. Before coming to Missoula in 2021, the outfielder had a minor league career that included a stint in High- At a ball with the Chiefs of Peoria (Illinois).
The PaddleHeads also announced batting coach Jeff Lyle will return for the 2023 season.
“It’s really exciting to have Jeff back,” Schlact said. “He was instrumental in the success we had last season and with so many players returning for next season, I know the guys are in good hands as they continue to develop their skills and we are aiming for a Pioneer League championship.”
The PaddleHeads’ offseason is officially in full swing, with player signings for the 2023 season on the horizon.