Huppert likes the feel of homegrown team

IronPigs manager Dave Huppert likes the look and feel of his 2009 team, especially considering that he's got so many top prospects on his club.

This time last year, all of the focus for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs was on their inaugural season, the new stadium, how the crowds would be and baseball issues were almost an afterthought. This season, with the newness worn off and three of the Phillies top five prospects at Triple-A, the focus is all on baseball and manager Dave Huppert is glad for that.

"It's a lot easier," said Huppert. "It seems like the atmosphere is a lot lighter around here and it's a lot more relaxed."

The Huppert History

  • Years as a minor league manager: 21
  • Years as an MLB third base coach: 1 (Nationals, 2005)
  • Record as an MiLB manager: 1,480-1,303 (.532)
  • Huppert's major league batting average: .048 (1-for-21)
  • Huppert's lone hit came off of Joe Niekro.

Top 5 Winningest Active MiLB Managers

  1. Marc Bombard - Round Rock Express - 1,709 wins
  2. Tom Kotchman - Orem Owlz - 1,542 wins
  3. Dave Huppert - LV IronPigs - 1,480 wins
  4. Dave Miley - SWB Yankees - 1,356 wins
  5. Rick Sweet - Louisville Bats - 1,352 wins
With Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson and Jason Donald all ready to go, Huppert's mind is much more at ease and he believes that his job this season will be much easier than it was last season. "It makes my job a lot easier," joked Huppert when he was asked about having a roster filled with prospects. He also likes the fact that there are a number of players who have either flirted with winning a spot on the major league roster or who have spent some time in the majors.

"They [the prospects] got a lot of playing time and they got a chance to see what it was like and now they've got that taste and I'm sure they've got that hunger to get back there," said Huppert.

Another key player that Huppert has this season is Kyle Kendrick, who was announced as the early front runner for the fifth spot in the rotation by Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, but wound up back at Triple-A. Huppert believes that Kendrick is handling the situation the right way and believes he'll put things back together.

"Kyle's got the talent to pitch in the majors. When he gets consistency with that change-up, he'll be fine."

As for Kendrick, he believes that it's just a matter of time until he is ready to pitch at the major league level again, too.

"It's all about working with my change-up and staying ready," said Kendrick. "I've just never really been comfortable with my change-up and didn't throw it a lot when I was younger and didn't really work on it a lot in the minor leagues, so now, I just have to establish that and I'll be okay."

Lehigh Valley had a tough inaugural season last year, finishing the year 55-89, a full 33 games out of first. Huppert believes that the different atmosphere and the prospect-filled roster will help the club avoid long losing streaks like they endured last season.

"Oh, please, no," said Huppert when asked about a repeat of last season. "I think we're in a lot better shape than we were last year."

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