George Laase, Head Coach
A former Staunton Braves second baseman (2003) and Assistant Coach (2004, 2005, 2007, 2012), George will enter his fourth season as the Head Coach of the Staunton Braves. He is in his 12th year of coaching experience and 8th year as a head coach.
In 2016, Laase led the Braves to the VBL South Division Pennant. Staunton advanced to the championship round of the VBL Playoffs where the Braves lost in the deciding Game 3 to Strasburg. The Braves finished the year with a 35-17 record – the most wins in the Valley Baseball League. The Braves were ranked N0. 23 in the final Summer League poll of 2015. For the third year in a row, the Braves had the No. 1 prospect in the VBL as Florida International RHP Garrett Cave was named the top prospect in the league by Perfect Game. The Braves placed six players among Perfect Game’s Top 25 VBL prospects. Following Cave were Austin Edens (Samford ) at No. 4, Devin Gould (Longwood) at No. 7, Jack Schaaf (Florida International) at No. 10) Reed Hayes (Walters State) at No. 16 and Walter Borkovich (Michigan State) at No. 22.
In his first season as the Head Coach of the Braves, Staunton finished the regular season (24-20), including a 5-3 record against rival Waynesboro Generals, and clinched a playoff birth. Staunton was ranked nationally by Perfect Game as high as the 11th best collegiate summer baseball team. The Braves led the VBL with Runs Scored(235), RBI(209), & were 2nd in Sacrifice Bunts(32). Staunton sent 5 players to the VBL All-Star Game with Bryant Hayman(Valdosta State) bringing home the VBL HR Derby Title and Max Povse(UNC-Greensboro) picking up the save for the Southern All-Stars. Max Povse(UNC-Greensboro) was ranked as the #1 Prospect from the VBL by Perfect Game and Baseball America. James Vasquez(UCF) was ranked the #1 Hitter by Perfect Game. Eight players were ranked in the VBL 2013 Top 40 Prospect Report.
In 2014, the Braves finished the regular season (25-18), clinching a home playoff birth as the #4 seed. Staunton led the VBL with Runs Scored(283), Hits(448), Doubles(87), Home Runs(23), RBI(243), Total Bases(616), Slugging Percentage(.408), OPS(.78), & Batting Average(.297). Individually, Gunnar McNeill(FIU/Chipola) won the VBL MVP Award (.402 AVE/68 Hits/50 RBIs/6 HR/28 Runs). The Braves sent 7 players to the VBL All-Star Game. Catcher J.C. Escarra(FIU) was ranked the #1 Prospect from the VBL by Baseball America. 5 Braves were ranked in the VBL 2014 Top 20 Prospect Report.
George is a 2000 graduate of Buckeye Local High School, where he was a 4 year letter winner in baseball, 2000 OVAC player of the year, and led the Panthers to their first Regional appearance in school history, batting .512 with 8 HRs.
During his collegiate career at Division II Fairmont State University, George was a 4-year starter and 3-year First Team All Conference and Regional Honoree, helping the Falcons win the Central Division title in 2004. With a career batting average of .408, Laase became just the 10th person in school history to have a career average above .400. He finished with 105 RBI, 14 HR, 140 Runs, and led the WVIAC with a .542 on base percentage in 2004.
In the summer of 2003, Staunton won the Southern Division pennant, only to get knocked out of the playoffs just short of the Championship round. George hit .379 in 19 games for the Braves as a mid-season pickup. He played alongside future Major League players Will Harris(LSU/Diamondbacks), Joe Koshansky (UVA/Rockies), Matt Fox (UCF/Twins), & Gaby Sanchez (Miami, FL/Pirates).
During his coaching career, the Braves qualified for the playoffs in 2004, 2005, 2007, & 2013, losing in the VBL Championship Series in 2004. Future Major Leaguers on those teams included Jon Jay (Miami, FL/Cardinals) and Chris Perez (Miami, FL/Indians). Another former player during his assistant coaching tenure, Scott Copeland (Southern Miss/Blue Jays), made his Major League debut in 2015. Players drafted during his head coaching career included Ben Verlander (14th Round Tigers), Chris Huffman (14th Round Padres), Max Povse (3rd Round Braves), Chris Diaz (5th Round Braves), Sam Howard (3rd Round Rockies), Dom DeMasi (31st Round Indians), and Preston Packrall (24th Round Phillies).
George is a native of Martins Ferry, Ohio, but currently lives in beautiful Staunton, Virginia, where he is in his fourth year as a Special Education Instructional Assistant at Robert E. Lee High School. He is the son of George and Angie Laase, has one sister, Carrie, and is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Martins Ferry, Ohio.
Taylor Davis, Pitching Coach
Taylor Davis is a former player (2014) with the Staunton Braves and returns for his second season as a member of the Braves staff.
Davis played collegiately at Ferrum College, lettering 4 years as a first baseman and submarine reliever. During his time at Ferrum, Taylor was a 4 year academic all-conference honoree graduating with honors, including a double major in history and social studies.
The 2014 Staunton Braves John Lancaster Memorial Award winner had an outstanding summer that enabled him to be ranked in the Top 10 VBL Relievers Report by All Things Valley. In 11 2/3 innings, Davis sported a superb 1.54 ERA.
Taylor Davis currently resides in Staunton, Va, but he will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Sports Administration this fall. He is currently a graduate assistant coach at Eastern Mennonite University.
Vincemt Fondacaro, Assistant Coach
Vincent Fondacaro will be coaching his first season with the Braves during the 2016 season.
A former player at William Paterson University, Fondacaro is in his second season as an assistant coach at Montclair State University where he coaches first base and works with the team’s catchers and hitters.