MADISON — After leading the Rocket City Trash Pandas to the best record in the Southern League, two members of the 2022 squad have been recognized for their achievements.
Trash Pandas Manager Andy Schatzley was named Southern League Manager of the Year and closer Eric Torres was named to the Southern League All-Star team as the league’s best reliever. Both winners were selected in a vote by the eight Southern League managers.
“This award is a reflection of the work we were able to do as a group,” Schatzley said. “I’m grateful to have had a chance to be a part of this staff, and extremely grateful for everything our players did and continue to do.”
The honor is the first in the professional careers for Schatzley and Torres, as Torres becomes the second Trash Pandas player to be named a Southern League All-Star after third baseman Mitch Nay became the first All-Star in the 2021 season.
In his second season as a professional manager, Schatzley, 38, guided the Trash Pandas to an 81-57 record, ending the regular season as first- and second-half division champions while finishing with the second-best record in all of Double-A baseball. The Trash Pandas were even better at Toyota Field, finishing with a home record of 49-20 for the most home wins in Minor League Baseball.
Pitching in his first full professional season, Torres, 23, became one of Schatzley’s biggest weapons out of the bullpen. Over 42 relief outings in the regular season, Torres went 2-2 with a 1.59 ERA, allowing just nine earned runs over 51.0 innings while striking out 81 and recording 22 saves in 23 opportunities. He also pitched in two playoff games for the Trash Pandas, giving up one run over three innings with four strikeouts.
“It’s extremely well deserved for Eric. It’s beyond impressive to have the season he had at any point in his career,” Schatzley said. “To do it in his first full professional season is even more impressive. I can’t think of anybody as deserving of this honor of Eric.”
Torres’ 22 saves led the Southern League and set an Angels Double-A record, topping the previous high of 21 set by Jose Musset for Midland in 1993. His 81 strikeouts ranked third among Southern League relievers and 35 of his 42 regular season outings were scoreless.
Ranked as the Angels’ number 28 prospect by MLB.com, Torres finished the first no-hitter in Trash Pandas history on Sept. 3, firing a scoreless ninth inning with three strikeouts to complete an 8-0 win over Biloxi at Toyota Field. He was originally selected by the Angels in the 14th round of the 2021 MLB draft out of Kansas State University.