The Spokane Indians’ dugout will have a decidedly veteran presence this season.
On Tuesday, the Colorado Rockies announced longtime minor league manager, coach and scout Scott Little as manager of the Indians for the 2021 season. He’ll be joined by pitching coach Ryan Kibler, hitting coach Zach Osbourne, athletic trainer Kelsey Branstetter and development supervisor Pedro Lopez.
This is the first season for the Indians as a High-A affiliate of the Rockies.
“I’m excited,” Little said on Monday. “I’m ready to work. I’m ready to play ball. I’m ready to see my kids, ready to see the coaches. I’m ready to see everybody involved. We just champing at the bit to go. Spokane’s a great place so we’re looking forward to the new affiliate.”
Most recently, Little was the manager for the Rockies’ High-A affiliate Lancaster JetHawks in the California League in 2019. He was slated to manage Lancaster again in 2020 before the season was canceled due to the pandemic. Lancaster was one of 43 organizations across the minors that lost affiliated baseball in MLB’s classification and alignment changes this offseason.
Little lamented the year off and acknowledged how difficult it’s been for a lot of people around the minors, especially the towns that lost teams. He’s anxious to hit the field again.
“There were good and bad things about the whole situation,” he said. “I got to spend a lot of time with my family, which we normally don’t. But I’ve been doing this a long time. We’re used to being away and deal with that. I’m just looking forward to getting back and being able to coach.”
No stranger to the Pacific Northwest, Little has experience managing in the former Northwest League – he was the skipper of the Boise Hawks from 2017-18.
“I enjoyed the league,” he said. “Prior to coming to Boise, I’d never seen the Pacific Northwest. It was so beautiful. Every team where we played, it was a lot of fun. The affiliates did everything they can to make it enjoyable. I look forward to this league – nothing but good things to say about this league.”
Prior to joining the Rockies’ organization, Little was an amateur scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers for seven years (2009-15). In his career, the former Missouri Tiger has also worked in roles including outfield coordinator, major and minor league field coordinator, and manager in the Pittsburgh Pirates (1992-2001), Los Angeles Dodgers (2002-05), Washington Nationals (2006-07) and Texas Rangers (2008) organizations.
The past three managers of the Indians, while the short-season A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, were first-time skippers when they landed the position.
“I’m at a different stage of my life, my coaching career and everything,” Little said. “I’m not looking to move up to the next level. I’ll manage wherever (the Rockies) want. It’s all about the kids anyway. We’re just trying to make them better and do whatever we can to help make them better.”
Kibler is in his 10th season as a pitching coach in the Rockies’ organization. He is also familiar with the Spokane Indians, serving in 2019 as the pitching coach for the Boise Hawks. Prior to Boise, the former right-handed pitcher was a pitching coach in Low-A Asheville (2017-18) and rookie level Grand Junction, Colorado (2012-16).
“Works hard, great passion,” Little said of Kibler. “I’m so looking forward to working with him.”
Osborne enters his third season as a hitting coach in the Rockies’ system. Osborne was named hitting coach for the Low-A Asheville Tourists in 2020 prior to the season being canceled. The former Tennessee Volunteer spent two seasons with Grand Junction (2018-19) as a hitting coach.
“He’s really developed into a quality hitting coach,” Little said. “The kids love him and his knowledge. We’re lucky to have him.”
Branstetter is in her fourth year with the Rockies’ organization. She served in Low-A Asheville in 2019 and was scheduled to be there again in 2020.