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Quad-Cities River Bandits manager Russ Steinhorn poses for a photo during the Midwest League team's preseason media day.

Jeff Cook QUAD-CITY TIMES

The manager who guided the Quad-Cities River Bandits to this year’s Midwest League championship is trading the challenges of professional baseball for a new opportunity at the collegiate level.

Russ Steinhorn was named Friday as the first-ever director of player development for Clemson's baseball program, returning to the college game after spending the past five years in the Houston Astros organization.

“When I saw the job description and responsibilities, it was something that really interested me,’’ Steinhorn said. “A lot of the stuff I have been doing with the Astros I will continue to be able to do, but in this job I’ll have a chance to work with players over a three- or four-year period and help them as they grow and develop.’’

In his new role, Steinhorn will oversee player development within the Atlantic Coast Conference program. He will also be in charge of opponent scouting, facility organization, enhancement and technology, recruiting and alumni relations, as well as student-athlete transition.

“I’m excited about having the chance to join one of the best college programs in the country," Steinhorn said. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a something I really couldn’t pass up."

The opportunity is closer to home and family for Steinhorn and his wife, Amanda, who reside in Dover, Delaware.

He said that factored into his decision to leave professional baseball as well, even after what he describes as an “unforgettable season’’ in his first full-season managerial assignment.

Promoted to Quad-Cities after managing the Astros’ Dominican Summer League team in 2016, Steinhorn guided the River Bandits to a 79-59 regular-season record and the organization’s third league championship in seven years.

“With a 140-game schedule, your whole life is consumed with that for six months,’’ Steinhorn said. “It was interesting to experience the challenges the players go through over that period of time, the daily interaction, and to be involved in a competitive environment for that extended period of time.’’

He doesn’t expect to miss the challenge of keeping a team moving forward through the more than 100 roster moves Quad-Cities experienced in 2017, and he knows he will miss the best part of job.

“I’ve never experienced anything quite like having the chance to tell a player he was being promoted and was now one step closer to his major-league dream,’’ Steinhorn said. “That never got old.’’

The move to Clemson returns Steinhorn to his collegiate coaching roots.

Before joining the Astros in 2013, he worked as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Delaware State in 2012, coached outfielders and assisted with pitchers at North Carolina-Greensboro in 2011 and worked as an assistant at Delaware State during the 2009-10 seasons.

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