Part of the Mariners’ revamped player development system put an emphasis on winning in the minor leagues, and the system has seen a dramatic turnaround so far in 2016.
First-year Director of Player Development Andy McKay explained how that helps in the big picture of the organization.
“Players are going to play their best when they are focused on winning a baseball game,” says McKay. “When they are focused on putting up individual numbers it never works. You have to give them a reason to buy into something other than themselves, and trying to win championships is that thing.”
The improvement can be seen with all four full-season affiliates:
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▪ The Triple-A Tacoma affiliate went 68-76 in 2015; the team is 47-40 so far in 2016.
▪ The Double-A Jackson affiliate went 53-84 in 2015; the team is 54-30 in 2016.
▪ The High-A Bakersfield affiliate went 61-79 in 2015; the team is 49-37 in 2016.
▪ The Low-A Clinton affiliate went 46-93 in 2015; the team is 51-35 in 2016.
Playing split-season formats, Jackson and Clinton have already clinched playoff berths. Both Tacoma and Bakersfield lead their respective divisions.
“We made it a priority,” McKay said. “It comes down to you’re trying to develop winning players who can help you win games in the major leagues. You have to teach guys how to win baseball games and how to compete throughout a season.”
TRIPLE-A ALL-STAR GAME ONLY GAME IN TOWN
The Triple-A All-Star Game will be played on Wednesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina — a night in which the major leagues are entirely off.
Tacoma sends two players to the contest: outfielder Stefen Romero and reliever Blake Parker.
Romero will start the game, presumably in right field, although PCL manager Wally Backman (Las Vegas) has not set his lineup yet. Romero is batting .335 for Tacoma, with ten home runs and 53 runs batted in.
Parker has served as the Rainiers’ closer, going 14 for 14 in save opportunities. He has a 2.01 ERA in 29 games, striking out 44 while walking seven batters over 31 1/3 innings pitched.
Brady Rodgers of Fresno is expected to be the starting pitcher for the PCL. He has gone 8-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 15 starts.
Mariners and Rainiers fans can look for Jesus Montero in the International League dugout. Now playing for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate Buffalo, Montero has hit .308 with nine homers and 50 RBIs for the Bisons.
Montero is also one of three IL players who will participate in Monday’s Triple-A Home Run Derby. The three PCL contestants are Travis Taijeron (Las Vegas), Kyle Jensen (Reno), and Rob Segedin (Oklahoma City).
Next year’s Triple-A All-Star Game will be held at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium on July 12.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.