O'FALLON, Mo. -- The River City Rascals have announced that Braxton Martinez and Jason Zgardowski will return to the club in 2019 as player-coaches. Martinez, an infielder who has been with the team since 2015, as well as a stint in the AAA Mexican League, will serve as the Hitting Coach. Zgardowski, a right-handed pitcher who has also spent parts of the last three seasons with the Rascals, as well as time in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, will act as the Pitching Coach.
Rascals Manager Steve Brook said of the announcement:
"I'm excited to announce the return of Braxton Martinez and Jason Zgardowski in this new expanded role. I'm confident that both young men will thrive in these dual positions during the 2019 season and beyond in their careers. It's been an exciting off season thus far, and I can't wait to get back onto the field in April."
When asked about the opportunity, Martinez, a St. Peters, MO native, said:
"I'm really grateful for the opportunity to not only be in uniform as a player but also as a hitting coach this season. I want to thank Steve Brook for trusting me to take on this role. I'm excited to work with the group of players who are hungrier than ever. I think we are going to accomplish some special things and I am ready for the challenge that awaits."
Zgardowski is also excited about the increased role:
"I would like to thank the River City Rascals and Steve Brook for giving me the opportunity to play for a first-class organization, but also to have the privilege to be a player coach as well. Knowing that this is going to be my first year doing both, I know its going to be tough but I'm up for the task. I believe I bring a lot to the table as a player for one, but being a part of two MLB organizations (Phillies and Cardinals) making it as far as Double-A with one, I bring experience as well. Just as an example when I came back at the end of last year, I could tell some of the younger guys that haven't played affiliated, were asking questions and just getting advice, but I don't want it to be one-way street either. I'm only 25 and I still have a lot to learn as well so I hope to get some feed back from them if they see me doing something wrong on the diamond. I can't wait to get back to CarShield Field and bring back a championship to the best fans in the Frontier League!"
This is not the first time Brook has given players an expanded role. During his tenure with the Rascals, players like Scott Robinson (2010), Caleb Curry (2012), Eric Williams (2014) and Josh Ludy (2016-17) have all served as player-coaches. In addition to Martinez and Zgardowski, Bench Coach Alex Ferguson will return in 2019 to round out Brook's coaching staff.
The defending West Division champion Rascals open the 2019 season Thursday, May 9th against the Washington Wild Things at CarShield Field. To make the Rascals part of your plans next summer, visit rivercityrascals.com or call the team's box office at 636-240-2287.