Dave Brundage, who recently completed his fourth season as the manager of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, was reportedly told by the Phillies on Tuesday that he wouldn't be returning to that position next season. News of his release came out on Thursday and while 'Pigs fans were still finding out about Brundage's firing, they had another move to process. Reading manager Dusty Wathan will reportedly take over the 'Pigs for the 2017 season.
Wathan, who is the winningest manager in the history of the Reading franchise, has long been rumored to be in line for bigger and better things in the Phillies organization. With the former Phillies regime happy with Brundage's performance at the Triple-A level, Wathan appeared to be somewhat blocked, until now.
Phillies GM Matt Klentak announced Wathan's new position with Lehigh Valley prior to the Phillies game against the Pirates - an embarrassing 15-2 loss - Thursday at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. In addition to having more wins than any other manager in Reading history, Wathan has been the Eastern League Manager of the Year each of the past two seasons, with this year's team finishing with the second-best record in minor league baseball.
It's likely that key players from Wathan's 2016 Reading team will be with him in Lehigh Valley next season. Dylan Cozens, Rhys Hoskins and others will likely move up to Triple-A, while other top prospects like J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams are likely to return to the 'Pigs in 2017.
"It's all about the players, ultimately," said Wathan on Thursday. "It's satisfying to be able to be recognized by the organization and that they have enough confidence in me to go to the next level and help mold some of these guys and get them ready to be here [Philadelphia]."
The change at Triple-A appears to be part of the regime of Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail starting to put their stamp on the minor league operations. Three team scouts were let go recently and there are likely to be other changes made to the Phillies front office and/or player development department.