Coaching Staff

George Laase, Head Coach

A former Staunton Braves second baseman (2003) and Assistant Coach (2004, 2005, 2007, 2012), George will enter his fifth season as the Head Coach of the Staunton Braves.  He is in his 13th year of coaching experience and 8th year as a head coach.

In 2015, 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 fifth 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.

Thomas Huddleston, Pitching Coach

Thomas Huddleston will join the Braves as the team’s pitching coach. He is currently in his first season as pitching coach at West Virginia Tech where he works with former Braves’ head coach Lawrence Nesselrodt.

Huddleston started his collegiate career at Cleveland State Community College and finished his career at Bluefield College. He graduated from Bluefield with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Management.

Huddleston spent one summer pitching in the independent Pecos League for the Roswell Invaders.

Marcus Rodriguez, Assistant Coach

Marcus recently completed his senior season at West Virginia Tech for former Braves’ head coach Lawrence Nesselrodt and will begin his coaching career this summer with the Braves.

A native of Los Angeles, Marcus attended and played baseball at Long Beach City Community College prior to going to West Virginia Tech.

In 2016, Marcus played for the Staunton Braves, seeing action in 26 games.