Catfish hire a new Skipper for 2024

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (March 4, 2024)

The Cape Catfish 2023 season didn’t end quite the way they wanted it to but everything other than the ending was a summer to remember. A 12-0 start to begin the season as they won those games by an average of 7 runs. They blew away the old Prospect League mark of 8 straight wins to begin a season. They won the Prairie Land Division 1st half by 7 games with a 22-6 record. They finished the overall season with the second best record in the Prospect League going 39-18.

Local legend Scott Little was at the helm last season as he took over for Steven Larkin who had coached the Catfish from their inaugural season in 2019. After just one season, Little decided to step away and that left a void for the Catfish front office to fill. “Scott did a great job last season and we were hoping to bring him back but we also know that these are summer jobs and it’s not always easy to keep head coaches for long stints”, said Catfish President Glenn Campbell.

GM Mark Hogan went to work burning up the phone lines. “We weren’t in a big hurry, we wanted to get the right guy and we talked to many interested people”, said Hogan. After many phone calls and conversations, the Cape Catfish have found their new Skipper for the 2024 season. Phil Butler, a native of Spring, Texas which is just north of Houston will be the 3rd Head Coach for the Catfish.

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” said Butler. “I started talking with Mark Hogan a few weeks ago and we hit it off pretty well. I’m looking forward to helping this organization bring another Prospect League Championship to Cape.”

Butler currently lives in Coleman, Texas, where he and his brother help operate his family’s 160-acre ranch. He went back there after the 2023 season, his final season with his alma mater Shawnee State University. He has strong ties to Shawnee State, an NAIA school in Portsmouth, Ohio.
He is a member of their Athletic Hall of Fame after playing baseball there and he also served as an assistant coach for eight seasons and head coach for four more before returning to Texas last year.

As a player at Shawnee State, Butler was a critical piece of the program’s American Mideast
Conference Championship season in 2010 and led the team to the Mid-South Conference
Tournament Championship in 2011. His 2011 season was his standout one, he hit .356 with a .422 on-base percentage and a .611 slugging percentage. He hit 10 home runs, had 21 doubles and 74 runs batted in for his team that spring. He was an NAIA All-American honorable mention selection in 2010 and was named first-team NAIA All-American in 2011.

After college he played three years of pro ball right across the bridge from Cape Girardeau for the Southern Illinois Miners from 2012-2014. He was the starting catcher two of those seasons and his stellar play behind the plate helped the Miners win a Championship. He’s no stranger to Cape as he has played a few games at Capaha Field. “When we were doing some reference checks on Coach Butler, one of our first calls was to Ralph Santana over in Thrillville,” said Glenn Campbell the team President. “We’ve become good friends with Ralph (GM and Head Coach for the Thrillbillies) and found out he coached Butler over at Marion and he had nothing but great things to say.”

Butler is no stranger to summer league collegiate baseball either as he managed the Southern Ohio Copperheads of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League for three seasons. He compiled a 69-49 record including winning the league title in 2018. He was named Manager of the Year in the league that season. “We had some great kids and some really good teams while I was with the Copperheads,” said Butler. “I’m anxious to start connecting with the talented group GM Mark Hogan is assembling and see if we can keep this winning tradition going,” said Butler.

“I was a catcher in college and in the few years I played pro ball with the Miners,” said Butler. “As a catcher you are a coach on the field and that’s where my love for coaching started. I’m young and I’m excited to get this chance with such a great organization.”

“We took our time and we feel like we’ve found the right guy,” said Catfish GM Mark Hogan. “Larkin and Little were both pro guys who had a little playing time at the highest level. Phil dipped his toe in pro ball but he’s been coaching since he got out of college and I think will really help him this summer.”

Look for an announcement soon about the rest of the coaching staff now that the head coaching position is filled. “We’re happy to get that out of the way so we can focus on getting things ready for the season,” said Campbell. “There is a lot going on behind the scenes and a lot to do. We are still signing players and I think in the next week you’ll see another announcement about an assistant being added to our staff.”

The Catfish open their 2024 season at the Jackson (Tenn.) Rockabillys on Wednesday May 29th and then the home opener will be the following day, Thursday May 30th against the Full Count Rhythm out of Hendersonville, Tenn.