Hughson gets comfortable as Anchors GM
The new general manager of the Alexandria Blue Anchors has been on the job for all of two weeks, but he is looking forward to the 2014 season.
Kendall Hughson was hired as the new general manager earlier this November, and he has been busy filling the team’s roster and preparing the schedule.
One part of the roster the front office has focused on during this offseason is the pitching staff. Last season, Blue Anchors pitchers gave up a total of 441 earned runs, which was second to only Thunder Bay.
“We struggled on the mound a little bit, and it probably cost us a couple games,” Hughson said. “It’s something we have addressed. It’s probably the toughest thing to find in the league, too, is pitching, especially in a smaller ballpark like Knute Nelson.”
The Blue Anchors are still in the process of figuring out who will be back from last season and recruiting new players. Hughson said the team will be sending updates on new and current players in the upcoming month.
“We’re thinking baseball over here, and we’re already thinking toward May and our season,” he said.
During this time of the year, Northwoods League general managers usually spend their time filling the roster, finalizing the schedule, considering new merchandise and helping with advertising and group outings for the upcoming season. As a new employee, Hughson said he is also spending time getting to know the organization and learning new things about the community.
“With me being in a new position, it’s a little different than a GM that has been here for a tenured time,” he said.
Blue Anchors part-owner Adam Barta has helped fill the roster over the off-season while the team searched for a new general manager. As an owner of the Minnesota Blizzard Baseball Academy, Barta knows many coaches and players at the collegiate level.
General managers in the Northwoods League often find players in the recruiting process by calling college coaches to find out information.
ughson said having someone who is connected to baseball like Barta is helpful in developing these contacts.
“As far as recruiting in the Northwoods League, it’s a lot of phone calls to coaches and putting feelers out there to see what’s available and to see if they would be a good fit on our roster,” he said.
Many teams have a set number of colleges where they have built relationships with coaches. But Hughson said each team is different when it comes to building a roster.
“It’s a lot of picking and choosing and trying to find the best fit for your ballpark, because every ballpark in the league is a little bit different,” he said.
Hughson is coming to the Blue Anchors after spending the past two years as an assistant general manager of the Waterloo Bucks Northwoods League franchise.
Hughson, who is now 25 years old, first got his start as an intern with Waterloo in the summer of 2010.
“I didn’t know a lot about the Northwoods League at the time, but I knew it was a baseball league and I wanted to pursue it,” Hughson said. “I wanted to get experience in the sports world.”
After graduating from Mankato State University, he was contacted by the Bucks about the assistant general manager position. He was with the Bucks last season when they finished with a league-best record 51-19. Waterloo lost in the first round of the Northwoods League playoffs to Duluth in two games.
“It kind of shows you it pays off a little bit,” he said about the Bucks’ 2013 season. “It was special to be a part of.”
The Blue Anchors announced earlier this week that Al Newman will return to the team as manager for a second season.
In Newman’s first season as manager, the 2013 Blue Anchors led the league in hitting with a .287 batting average. But pitching was a different story, as the staff finished near the bottom of the league with a 6.65 earned run average.
“Anchors up, I am totally excited about my return to Alexandria,” said Newman in a release. “From the front office to the field staff, our goal is to bring excitement to the park and win baseball games.”
The team is excited to have Newman return, and said they hope the improvements at the end of last season will give them momentum in 2014.
“Having Newmie back for a second year managing was a no brainer,” Barta said. “I think we all feel there is some unfinished business this year and Newmie is the man for the job. Having a two-time World Series champion leading this team is an experience the players and fans won’t forget.”