TERRE HAUTE —
Credited in part to some unforgettable memories at Cal State Fullerton, where Ronnie Prettyman scored the winning run in the 2004 College World Series, the Indiana State and Terre Haute Rex assistant coach wants to pursue a future in college coaching.
Prettyman’s first full summer with the Rex has been enjoyable for him. When manager Brian Dorsett had to miss a short time for business reasons, Prettyman was the man in charge.
“When Brian’s here it’s great, because I can learn from him and pick his brain. He’s a great baseball mind. And when he’s gone, he’s kind of given me the reins when he’s not around. My first couple weeks I was by myself a lot. It was a great experience for me to run the show,” Prettyman said recently.
The former Fullerton star and son of ISU Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman is now 30 years old. He reached the highest level of the minor leagues during his professional career, but now he’s dedicated to becoming a college head coach some day.
“I want to stick around college,” Prettyman said. “That’s why being able to run the show was a great learning experience for me. I’m just trying to get better with my building relationships with the guys, take what I can and learn something new every day.”
Working with Dorsett, who retired from an eight-year major league career at age 35, and the rest of the Rex staff has been valuable in getting his coaching career going.
“We bounce a lot of ideas off each other. It’s just a great learning experience. And the [players] are sitting around asking questions,” Prettyman said.
Dorsett has always said one of the biggest things to be gained from summer collegiate leagues is learning to approach the game as a professional. Prettyman agrees.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to teach them, just being a professional about going about your business the right way. Preparing yourself on a daily basis and not being so results-oriented,” Prettyman said. “If you’re worried about your hits, worried about your batting average, you’re just going to dig yourself a bigger hole.”
Dorsett said it’s more than just physical pointers. It’s the mental approach to a game that can be a grind when suiting up six days a week.
“The fact that he’s coached at Indiana State, and he’s got a lot of different experience. He’s able to talk as well on the field. He’s not too far removed [from his playing days]. It’s a nice bridge sometimes for young players to go to. Maybe they’re struggling with something and they can talk to him.”
Prettyman’s career as an infielder helps him give insight to those position players in particular. The Rex had a tough stretch during which they made 15 errors over the span of six games. The team has righted the ship in that regard, helping the team play winning baseball since.
“I’m really impressed with how the team’s re-focused on defense. That’s helped us,” Prettyman said. “I’ve played all the infield spots, and I have our infielders out every day doing early work. They’re working hard. Even when they were making errors, we had guys committed to working hard and being out here early. I’ve been around other summer-ball teams that didn’t want to do that. It’s just been a great experience to have these guys really want to be out working.”
Playing on turf at Bob Warn Field is “a welcome adjustment for most of them,” Prettyman added, but it’s also an adjustment to go play the next day on a dirt surface. “Playing on the turf and then going to the dirt fields that aren’t as manicured. That’s the biggest adjustment some of these guys are having. That’s been an adjustment and I think we’re getting better at it.”
Prettyman has served as the Rex third-base coach this season, meaning he has the chance to make the offensive calls such as hit and run, bunts and steals.
“I let him do a lot with the offense,” Dorsett said. “I trust him enough to put things on in certain situations with the running game. When I want to make a call, it’s what we do, but I have enough confidence in him that he’ll make the right call. I want him to gain that experience, have that feeling of having some control over what’s going on.”
Prettyman’s enjoying thinking the game non-stop.
“Oftentimes I’ll come back in and [Dorsett] will be like, ‘Hey, if it would have gone to this count, I would have like to have seen this done.’ And we’re on the same page almost all the time. It’s one of those things where he trusts me to run the offense. He likes to run an aggressive offense just like I do. I like to see our guys run and stealing bases, just making it exciting and putting pressure on defenses.”
The Rex are fourth in the Prospect League with 48 stolen bases, but they are just eighth out of 12 teams in runs scored.
As the Rex try to step it up a notch in the second half, Dorsett expects Prettyman to be a key in helping him match last year’s second half in which the team made its first playoff appearance.
“He did a nice job when I was away,” Dorsett said. “He’s a guy that’s passionate about baseball. He works with a lot of young people with lessons and hitting and field work. With his experience as a top Division I player and a really good pro, he brings a lot to the table for us.”