Pat Kelly, the manager of the 2019 Chattanooga Lookouts, had the same role when the team played at Engel Stadium a quarter century ago.

His pitching coach, Danny Darwin, had the identical job here in 2010, when the Lookouts were Class AA affiliates of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That's pretty much where the familiarity begins and ends as AT&T Field prepares to house 25 new players and a new parent club in these next five months. The Lookouts have partnered with the Cincinnati Reds, resuming a relationship that lasted from 1988 to 2008 and produced the likes of Adam Dunn and Joey Votto.

"It's new everywhere, to be honest," Lookouts outfielder Taylor Trammell, a touted Reds prospect from the Atlanta suburb of Kennesaw, said Tuesday. "I've been blessed to move up every year. I was an 18-year-old coming straight out of high school and went to Billings, Montana, which was 2,000 miles away from my house. That was a pretty big deal being on my own, so I had to adjust, and then I went to Dayton, Ohio, as a 19-year-old, and I was 20 last year when I went to Daytona.

"I'm still adjusting at 21, but this is only 90 minutes away, so I'm fine with it. Wherever I am, I adapt."

The Lookouts played together at AT&T Field for the first time Tuesday night, defeating Chattanooga State 2-0 in a seven-inning exhibition. TJ Friedl's single to center field in the fifth inning scored Brantley Bell to break a scoreless tie.

Chattanooga will open its 140-game Southern League schedule Thursday night at 6:15 against the visiting Montgomery Biscuits, and Kelly is hoping the initial 10 to 15 games can be productive and rewarding.

"I think it's really important just to get their feet wet," Kelly said. "The Southern League is a tough league, and I don't think people really understand that a lot of pitchers you see in the first half in this league are going to be in the big leagues next year. That's how good the arms are, so the first two weeks are very important in terms of getting their feet wet and getting them comfortable.

"We have a lot of young guys. They've had success in the past and they've played together, which I think is important, and I think it's just a matter of getting them going and getting them used to five-game series."

Darwin echoed Kelly's sentiments about the league, adding that some players can be overwhelmed long before Memorial Day.

"A lot of teams send their prospects here, especially their pitchers, and there are a lot of guys throwing mid-90s to high-90s in this league," Darwin said. "That's going to be the overwhelming part. I tell them all that this separates the men from the boys for me.

"They're going to play against guys who have been around for a while and played in the big leagues, so they will have to bring their 'A' game each and every night and learn how to make those adjustments."

With every Southern League team undefeated until Thursday's opening games, there is no shortage of optimism among the Lookouts and each of the other nine league counterparts. Kelly has done his homework with his club to this point and likes the potential for the weeks and months ahead.

"I've talked to their manager from last year, Ricky Gutierrez from Daytona, and I've seen them play this spring," Kelly said. "They've played together for the last three years, and it's a great group of guys. They have a good chemistry, and we've just got to guide them through this start.

"I would say we're probably more of a long-ball team than anything, but we also have some speed with Trammell and Friedl as outfielders who can really run. It's a team that has a chance to be well-balanced."

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.