Sports

Wichita’s new minor-league team gets some front-office help

Wichita getting new AAA baseball team, ballpark

(FILE VIDEO) Wichita mayor Jeff Longwell announced on Sept. 6, 2018, that Wichita would be the new home of the New Orleans Baby Cakes, a triple A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. A new ballpark would be build for the team.
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(FILE VIDEO) Wichita mayor Jeff Longwell announced on Sept. 6, 2018, that Wichita would be the new home of the New Orleans Baby Cakes, a triple A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. A new ballpark would be build for the team.

The Class AAA baseball team coming to Wichita in 2020 may not have a name yet, but it’s putting pieces together in its front office.

Augusto “Cookie” Rojas, Jared Forma and Annie Life were announced Thursday as three senior vice presidents for the front office of the Wichita minor-league team. The three were appointed by the team’s managing partner Lou Schwechheimer.

Rojas (who is not the same man as the former KC Royals star) will focus on sports and entertainment ventures, while Forma will be the general manager and Life will deal with community relations.

“We are thrilled to build a world-class front office in Wichita,” Schwechheimer said in a statement. “With the additions of Jared, Annie and Cookie, we bring an extraordinarily talented senior leadership team together with Jay Miller that will strive each and every day to create a baseball entertainment village and bring the riverfront to life 200-plus days per year, while making baseball fun, entertaining and the best family value in all of Kansas.”

In January, the team released an ambitious plan to have a new $75 million stadium ready to replace Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, which had been the city’s primary baseball stadium since 1934, by April 2020. The City Council approved the plan on Feb. 12 and construction has already begun to ensure the Class AAA farm team for the Miami Marlins will have a stadium in time for its debut season in Wichita.

As far as a nickname goes, that is still undecided. The team is sorting through fan submissions and is expected to release a final cut-down list soon that will be voted on.

Expect Rojas to be a major player in picking the new name for the Wichita franchise. Rojas oversaw the rebranding of the New Orleans franchise from Zephyrs to Baby Cakes. That name change won Baseball America’s “Logomania” contest and pitted New Orleans in the top 20 minor-league franchises in merchandise sales nationwide.

Rojas will be a holdover from the New Orleans Baby Cakes, where he is currently in his fourth season as general manager. But he has an extensive history in sales, including eight years as the general sales manager for the Pawtucket Red Sox, where he recorded record highs in tickets sold and revenue generated.

Forma also has a wealth of experience, having served the last six years as the general manager of the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs. On top of leading the front office staff, he oversaw all club operations as well as Tampa Bay Rays’ spring-training operations. He has helped Charlotte finish in the top-five in attendance in the Florida State League in all six of his seasons.

Life has experience working with both Rojas and Forma. She has most recently worked with Forma with the Charlotte Stone Crabs but also was on the staff tasked with rebranding the New Orleans franchise with Rojas. She has been a driving force in the creation of several baseball goodwill initiatives, and Schwechheimer has plans for Life to create a charitable foundation in Wichita.

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