Ilsley's staff recorded the lowest ERA in the 16-team Pacific Coast League his first two seasons with the club and again in 2011. In 2008, the Redbirds had a 4.34 and it lowered to 4.05 in 2009 as Memphis finished 77-67 en route to the PCL playoffs and eventually the league championship. In 2010, the staff finished with an ERA of 4.42, sixth in the PCL. This year, the pitchers came in at a league-best 4.10. The staff walked the second-fewest total number of batters and had the third-most strikeouts.
Ilsley has been recognized as a top coaching contributor for some time. Following the 2004 season, he was honored with the George Kissell Award, presented annually by the organization for excellence in player development. He was invited to join the major league club and assist the staff during the final month of the 2011 season.
The Cardinals first hired Ilsley from the Baltimore Orioles' organization after he served as the pitching coach for Bluefield in the Appalachian League during the 2001 campaign. He began his coaching career in 1999 with Winnipeg of the Independent Northern League and moved on to coach at Sioux Falls in 2000.
A left-handed pitcher, Ilsley spent 14 seasons pitching in the minor leagues with Houston, St. Louis, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Montreal. He appeared in 10 games in the Major Leagues with the Cubs in 1994. The fourth-round pick of the Houston Astros in 1985 concluded his playing career in 1998.
In the following interview, we discuss his 2011 Memphis Redbirds staff as well as his plans to again coach in winter ball. After earlier playing for five winters in Mexico, Ilsley has just begun his fourth year as the pitching coach for Hermosillo. He reported this past Sunday.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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