Former player returns to Mariners as general manager
CHRISTIANSBURG — Throughout the years, Pulaski’s Calfee Park has played host to many men’s first professional experiences in baseball.
For one man this season, that initial experience will likely bring with it the feeling of deja vu.
Ryan Kiel is the new general manager of the Pulaski Mariners, the same team he made his playing debut with three years ago. His first day on the job was Wednesday.
The Mariners’ former general manager, Abby Lyman, stepped down from the position in November to move closer to her family in and around Highland, Utah.
Although the job is Kiel’s first in baseball administration, the 25-year-old believes he brings plenty of experiences to the role.
“I know how things go on the field,” Kiel said. “I know how the players feel, and I know how the fans feel. … I can bridge that gap.”
Kiel was drafted out of Marshall University by the Mariners in the 37th round of the 2010 draft and made his debut later that year in Pulaski. In 2011, the 6-foot, 4-inch, left-handed pitcher was promoted to the Class A Clinton LumberKings, before being released by the Mariners and signing with the Reds prior to the 2012 season.
He spent time with the Class A Dayton Dragons before being promoted to the Class A Advanced Bakersfield Blaze, but blew out his elbow after just two appearances with the club and was released.
Kiel said he had desired since middle school to work in the business side of sports and had been working throughout his minor league career to complete a master’s degree in sports management from the University of Southern Mississippi. Following the advice of his drafting agent, Ryan Williams, Kiel attended December’s baseball winter meeting in Nashville, Tenn., in hopes of finding a starting point for his second career.
Soon after his arrival at the meeting, Kiel said he learned the Pulaski team was without a general manager and immediately sought a conversation with the owners.
Wayne Carpenter, co-owner of Pulaski Baseball Inc., said that although the company hadn’t officially posted its general manager opening at the time of the winter meetings, he had traveled to Nashville in hopes of speaking with young candidates, such as Kiel.
“We knew we wanted someone who was young, aggressive in the field, somebody who was on the way up,” Carpenter said.
The men met twice over a two-day period to discuss the position. Kiel described the experience as happening very fast but said the position just seemed like a good fit.
According to Carpenter, Kiel’s outgoing personality and familiarity with the New River Valley made the owners confident he would be able to sell baseball in Pulaski, and they offered him the position.
Kiel said he was looking forward to the challenges his new career would likely bring and was very comfortable facing those challenges in the same place he faced his first challenges as a professional player.
“It’s a pretty cool thing,” he said. “I like how everything comes full circle, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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