Ecker to Follow in Meinhold’s Cards Footsteps

The Cardinals have filled at least two of their four minor league “fourth coaching” positions for 2015, the latest with a former California prep coach, Donnie Ecker.

Last year, the St. Louis Cardinals implemented a new program to help develop future player development leaders and scouts.

The organization added what they called a “fourth coach” at all four full-season minor league levels in the system. Though not in uniform during games, these individuals travel with the team, and assist with batting practice, infield drills and other pre-game work.

During the contests, they change into civilian clothes and move into the stands, becoming a scout.

The original intent of these jobs was to give one season for the two sides – the fourth coach and the organization – to assess each other and decide on a future direction for the individual, whether coaching or scouting.

The Cardinals say they are not yet ready to announce the program for 2015. However, a second of the new fourth coaches has made his own announcement.

Former Los Altos California High baseball coach Donnie Ecker recently told the Los Altos Town Crier that he has accepted the Cardinals’ offer to become one of the new class of fourth coaches for 2015. He will begin his orientation in Jupiter, Florida next month.

It represents a major change in career plans for Ecker, who had recently ended a two-year stint at Los Altos to take an assistant coaching position at Bakersfield College while pursuing a master’s degree in education at Cal State Bakersfield.

Ecker was contacted about the Cardinals opportunity by one of the 2014 fourth coaches, Ricky Meinhold. Meinhold is an ex-teammate with the Frontier League’s Windy City Thunderbolts.

Another member of the new fourth coach class for 2015 will be the former coach of DeLand High School in Florida, Brian Pruitt. He stepped down from his prior job last month.

At this point, none of the 2014 class appear to have moved into coaching, at least with the Cardinals. Meinhold, who worked at Palm Beach, is reportedly going to scout the Florida State League out of Tampa for the Cards.

Among the others, Steve Moritz, who was with Peoria, has apparently joined the San Diego Padres organization out of Atlanta. Former Cardinal minor leaguer Patrick “Packy” Elkins, who was at Springfield, is remaining with the Cards, according to what I have been told, assigned to scout the Sally League out of the Baltimore/Washington area. Last year’s fourth coach at Memphis, Greg Byron, has joined the Minnesota Twins organization as the video intern for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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