Warner, 36, was drafted as a shortstop in the 17th round back in 1991 and played seven years in the system. He made it as far as the Triple-A level, but ended his career there, hitting .290 with 40 home runs and 242 RBIs in 792 minor league games overall.
When his playing career came to an end, Warner started at the bottom of the coaching totem pole, yet at the same time, realized his unfulfilled dream to reach the majors. During the 2000 season, Warner served as one of the batting practice pitchers for the big league club, building a base upon which to start his new career.
The next season, in 2001, Warner received his first coaching assignment on the staff of the Cards' Double-A affiliate, the New Haven Ravens. In both 2002 and 2003, Warner served as a coach with the New Jersey Cardinals in the short-season New York-Penn League. Warner moved on to Peoria in 2004, where he led his charges to a league-leading batting average.
Between his stops at New Jersey and Peoria, Warner had the opportunity to coach many of his future Palm Beach prospects as well as those who served on the Surprise Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, a team that is currently in first place in its division. Warner also coached in the AFL two seasons ago.
This past season, Warner was asked to take on his first-ever managing assignment with the Single-A Palm Beach Cardinals. After a very tough fifth-place showing in the first half, all Warner did was win the second-half championship, then come out on top in the league playoffs with a team short on hitting, but strong on pitching and heart. To suggest the team reflected their leader is far from an understatement. There is no reason to believe that Warner won't continue to rise up the same organizational ladder he followed as a player.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.