At one point among the brightest baseball prospects ever produced by FAU, former pitcher Mickey Storey is looking to become the first FAU player ever to reach the major leagues as both a player and a manager.
“I don’t know when I grew up so fast and turned into this guy who really enjoys head coaches and managers, but as soon as I was done playing I really started taking a liking to watching the good coaches in all sports and how they handled their teams – the Caliparis and the Coach Ks and the AJ Hinch’s of the world and stuff like that,” said Storey, referring to champion coaches and managers at Kentucky basketball, Duke basketball and the Houston Astros, respectively. “You really just appreciate how what they’re doing really is a direct connection to the product on the field. That’s the stuff that really gives me goose bumps nowadays.”
Storey, 32, isn’t far removed from being one of the best baseball players in FAU history. An FAU baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Collegiate Baseball’s Freshman Pitcher of the Year and a member of Baseball America’s All-Freshman team in 2005, Storey is either alone in second or tied for second place in program history in wins (23), innings pitched (307 1/3) and strikeouts (292). Injury concerns during his final two seasons crushed his draft profile, leaving Oakland to select Storey in the 31st round of the 2008 draft.
He reached the major leagues with Houston in 2012 and played part of the 2013 season with Toronto, appearing in a total of 29 games between the two big league clubs. Storey completed his playing career in 2015 as part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Storey returned to baseball in 2017, serving as a development coach in the Astros organization. He was slated to manage the Class A short season Tri City ValleyCats this yer, but when the job came open one level above at Quad City of the Midwest League, the Astros essentially promoted Storey before he ever managed a game.
“Mickey would spend a lot of time up at the front of the dugout talking strategy, evaluating players,” said FAU coach John McCormack, who recruited Storey to the Owls. “He was very, very astute for a younger guy with that stuff.”
Former FAU players have reached the major leagues – most recently pitcher Austin Gomber with the St. Louis Cardinals – coached at the high school and collegiate level, and are even employed within major league baseball scouting departments.
Storey, the first manager produced by the Owls since the program moved to Division I, is quickly showing he belongs. (Pat Murphy played for FAU in 1981-82 and is currently the bench coach for Milwaukee.) Though only in his first season as a manager, Storey was one of the minor league coaches Hinch invited to the world champion Astros’ spring training to help with major league camp.
“He’s really hungry and curious to learn,” Hinch said. “I can see the leadership skills out of him. He’s been in the big leagues before so he has a good way about him, He seems very likable, very relatable – good qualities that players will enjoy. I bet guys will like playing for him.”
Players, at least, responded to playing for him. The Storey-led River Bandits are headed to the Midwest League playoffs after winning their final six games of the season’s first portion to claim the Western Division’s first-half title.
To manage in the Houston organization, a group at the forefront of the analytics movement in baseball, Storey needs to embrace advanced metrics – an approach he’s eagerly adopted, noting that such statistics and measurements often make it easier to reinforce what clubs are teaching their minor leaguers.
He also has to survive some of the crazy occurrences that seem to happen every night in minor league baseball.
Storey’s been ejected from two games in his initial season, and has needed to manage his self control to avoid more early exits. But on Friday, heading to the ballpark in Burlington, Iowa, a couple of hours earlier than normal, yet another crazy ending to a game preoccupied his thoughts.
With the River Bandits and Bees tied at 7 in the 10th inning, the lights at Community Field went out, never coming back on. Umpires suspended the game, ordering it to be resumed prior to Friday night’s scheduled game.
“That’s the third time that’s happened this season to us,” Storey said. “Not to mention two times in our own ballpark we’ve had a fire alarm go off with one inning to go against the same team. I played 11 years and these things never happened.”
Quad Cities won the suspended game 8-7 in 11 innings before dropping Friday’s regularly scheduled contest 4-2 – all part of the minor league baseball grind for Storey, who’s already reached the promised land as a player.
“I also had a strong passion to get into coaching,” Storey said. “I knew that I wanted to if I could time it up right and get into coaching and be on the younger side, that that would be beneficial.”