Express names Stroop as new manager

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

Strasburg Express President and General Manager Jay Neal didn’t have to look far when searching for a new manager for the Valley Baseball League team this season.

Neal had a top-notch candidate in Stephanos Stroop, who was an assistant coach with the team last year under then-manager Ben Moore.

“Stephanos has amazing baseball knowledge and is just ridiculously connected in the world of baseball,” Neal said. “He actually managed a game when Ben was away for a required meeting and did a super job. He’s a very good guy, deep knowledge, well connected. We talked to some players and they thought he’d be a great choice.”

Stroop said he was honored when Neal called him in September after Moore decided to get out of coaching to go into the family business.

“Jay’s just a great guy, and is just an awesome guy to deal with,” Stroop said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “He does a great job with the franchise. …It was an opportunity to hone my craft as a coach and to get the opportunity to help some young players get their name out there and to represent the franchise and community of Strasburg.”

Stroop said he enjoyed his time last year with the Express, and he thinks the experience will help him as a manger this season.

The Express advanced to the second round of the playoffs last year, before losing to Charles Town.

Stroop is an assistant coach at St. Catharine College, after spending two seasons as an assistant/pitching coach at George Washington University.

“I’m very proud of what we accomplished [at George Washington], we may not have had a lot of success, but I think we took the program in the right direction,” Stroop said.

Stroop said he took the job as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at St. Catharine College, an NAIA school in Springfield, Kentucky, to be closer to his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.

Stroop also spent a year working as an intern in the front office of the Washington Nationals, where he worked in advanced scouting, and also helped scout the Ripken League, another college summer league.

“That was a great experience,” Stroop said of working for the Nationals. “They have a great franchise and I was able to meet some people there, and make some great friends during my time there.”

Stroop said his first coaching experience came when he was able to coach his old high school, Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, and he then realized it was what he wanted to do.

Joining Stroop on Strasburg’s staff will be Noe Ruiz, who will be the hitting coach and associate head coach. Ruiz was on the staff in 2013, and is an assistant coach at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Stephen Dickerson, who currently plays at Philadelphia University, will be the pitching coach. Dickerson is the son of Duke Dickerson, who is an executive assistant to the Express.

“I’m excited about the staff that we have,” Stroop said. “I think we have a good staff that will do a good job and represent the franchise well.”

The Express have already announced some of the players for the 2015 season. Many of them are from Division I schools, including one from the University of Florida and one from Coastal Carolina and a couple from the College of Charleston.

Stroop said he’s excited about the players they have already picked up, and he wants a team that plays aggressive baseball.

“I want them to play aggressive and have fun,” Stroop said. “I want them to have free rein on the base paths, and to put pressure on opponents’ defenses. I want our pitchers to attack the zone. …I want the guys to play aggressive and loose.”

Stroop said that he’s excited for the season, which begins on June 5.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity the Neal’s have provided me with and to work for a first-class organization,” Stroop said. “My goal is to make them proud and to represent the community of Strasburg well, the way it deserves to be.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com