One of the event organizers is Roger LaFrancois, hitting coach for the Batavia Muckdogs and two of the many presenters also have St. Louis Cardinals ties. They are Senior Special Assistant to the General Manager Gary LaRocque and Minor League Field Coordinator Mark DeJohn. Among the other speakers were New York Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, former MLB pitching coach Rick Peterson and Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.
|At work: DeJohn, minors pitching coordinator Brent Strom and LaRocque (cap)|
First up is LaRocque. Starting his 37th year in professional baseball, Gary spent 19 years in coaching, managing, scouting and executive roles with the Dodgers organization before moving to the Mets for 10 years, including eight during which he led their amateur draft. LaRocque spent his first three years with the Cardinals in scouting and moved over to become a minor league adviser when John Vuch was named farm director in the fall of 2010.
Following Vuch's direction, LaRocque's job is to oversee and evaluate Cardinals players and coaches and of course, help them reach their maximum potential. Asked to explain what is behind this, he said, "We have to know our own players." Simple, yet powerful.
Among the other projects LaRocque has been working on during the winter has been to oversee the new off-season conditioning program put in place for 180 Cardinals minor leaguers.
In the following interview, LaRocque recaps 2011 and looks ahead to the spring and beyond.
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 during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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