2008 Cards AFL Interviews: Ron "Pop" Warner

The first of our nine exclusive Cardinals interviews from the Arizona Fall League is with Peoria Saguaros manager Ron "Pop" Warner as he discusses Springfield's 2008 season, his eight AFL organizational charges and more.

When Tony La Russa was recently quoted expressing concern that the stability among his major league coaching staff caused him one regret – the inability to promote deserving coaches from within the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system – the first name that came to my mind was Ron "Pop" Warner.

Entrusted by the Cardinals to hasten the development of many of their top prospects at Springfield of the Double-A Texas League, Warner continues to solidify his standing as one of the top managerial prospects in baseball.

In 2008, Warner's club set franchise records for both second-half and full-season wins, but just missed the playoffs. It was Warner's first post-season miss in four seasons as a manager, two with Springfield and two with Palm Beach of the A-Advanced Florida State League. At the latter stop, he established a franchise record for career victories.

In 2006 and 2007, his peers in each of the two leagues voted Warner the top managerial prospect, according to Baseball America. Last season, BA named him their Double-A Manager of the Year while those of us here at Scout.com recognized Warner as our Cardinals Minor League Manager of the Year.

Since the 39-year-old was drafted in the 17th round of the 1991 draft from the University of Wyoming, Warner has been a member of the Cardinals organization. After retiring following the 1999 season, he became St. Louis' batting practice pitcher in 2000 and started his coaching journey with New Haven the next season.

Following the 2008 regular season, Warner headed to Arizona for his second stint as a manager in the Arizona Fall League. He also led the AFL's Surprise Scorpions in 2005 and was a bench coach in 2003. In recognition of his Peoria Saguaros holding down first place in their division, Warner was named as one of the two managers for the AFL Rising Stars Showcase two weeks ago.

I caught up with Warner on the field at Peoria prior to an afternoon game last week. In the following audio clip, "Pop" discusses his 2008 Springfield club as well as each of the eight Cardinals farmhands on his Saguaros squad.

(10:37)

Upcoming interviews in this series: Adam Ottavino, Brad Furnish, Shane Robinson, Justin Fiske, Tyler Greene, Tyler Norrick, Brett Wallace and Steven Hill.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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