We have personnel news today from the New Orleans Zephyrs (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), Grand Junction Rockies (rookie; Pioneer League) and Portland Pickles (summer collegiate; Great West League).
Augusto “Cookie” Rojas has joined the Zephyrs as Senior Vice President and General Manager, while former General Manager Mike Schline has been named the team’s Vice President of Baseball Operations.
Rojas comes to the Zephyrs following an 18-month stint with Learfield Sports as the General Manager for Brown Bears Sports Properties at Brown University in his native Providence, R.I. He has an extensive background in minor league baseball, having spent eight years as General Sales Manager with the Pawtucket Red Sox (Class AAA; International League). During his tenure with the Red Sox, his sales team achieved record highs in tickets sold and revenue generated.
“I am thrilled to join the Zephyrs organization,” Rojas said. “We will continue to strive to provide affordable family entertainment for our fans and sponsors, and have Zephyrs baseball be a source of pride and a team the entire New Orleans community can rally around.”
Upon graduating from La Salle Academy in 1987, Rojas served in the United States Marine Corps for six years. A veteran of the Persian Gulf War, he served with the 6th Motor Transport Battalion during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Rojas received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Rhode Island in 1993, and earned his law degree from Suffolk University Law School, Evening Program in 1998 while working at the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office. Prior to transitioning to baseball, Rojas was also employed as Senior Vice President/Annual Campaign Director with the United Way of Rhode Island, and Assistant Vice President/Community Development Officer with the Pawtucket Credit Union.
He and his wife, Kristin, have four children and reside in Barrington, R.I.
Schline joined the Zephyrs as Group Sales Director in 2002, became Assistant General Manager in 2004 and subsequently General Manager the following year. In 2006, he was named the Executive of the Year by both the Pacific Coast League and The Sporting News when the Zephyrs became the first team to return to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Joe Kubly is the new president of the Grand Junction Rockies, coming to the team from the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low A; Midwest League) front office. This is a new position; Tim Ray remains as GM, and Mick Ritter has been promoted to assistant GM.
In Portland, Pacific Northwest native Spenser Smith, born and raised in Walla Walla, Washington, will be the “Voice of the Pickles” for the team’s inaugural 2016 season.
“We were very impressed with Spenser’s baseball play-by-play ability the first time we heard his work,” said Pickles President & CEO Ken Wilson, a former Major League Baseball broadcaster. “Spenser has a great future and we all look forward to him assisting our fans in preparing for our first season.
Smith, 23, spent the 2015 season as the Broadcasting and Media Relations Assistant for the Lancaster JetHawks (High A; California League). His other career stops include Palm Springs, Calif., where he called games for the California Winter League, and his hometown of Walla Walla, as the broadcaster for the West Coast League’s Walla Walla Sweets during the summer of 2014.
“I’m very thankful for this opportunity to broadcast games in one of the most fascinating cities in America,” Smith said. “For the past five years, the city of Portland has not had a baseball team to call its own, and I couldn’t be more excited to help bring the game back to a place that has sorely missed it.”
In addition to his broadcasting duties, Smith will assist the Pickles front office staff with day-to-day operations, including sales, in the months leading up to opening night.
“No one will want to miss out on this first season of Pickles baseball,” Smith says. “Each night at Walker Stadium will offer something special, and I’m looking forward to helping folks find their way to exciting and fun-filled summer nights at the ballpark.”