On Tuesday November 27th, Baseball America named Drew Saylor as their 2018 Minor League Manager of the Year award. Saylor, who was the manager of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes for the last three seasons, piloted the team to a record-breaking season.
The Quakes won the first half South Division title with a 35-35 record. But it was the second half where the Quakes really began their dominant run. The Quakes set a franchise record with a 15-game winning streak as they won 18 out of their first 20 games in the second half.
The Quakes went 52-18 in the second half and finished with a 87-53 regular season record. Both marks were franchise records. These win totals also led to a franchise record for Saylor as he ended the season with a three-year record of 242-178.
After losing their first game in the playoffs, the Quakes won six straight games which included a three-game sweep over Visalia to win the California League championship.
All of this was done despite the turnover of the roster over the season. Saylor spoke about creating a culture when I interviewed him in August.
“I feel that my role, is like 90% has nothing to do with baseball and 10% has to do with baseball,” Saylor said, ”a lot of my reports, a lot of my observations is about human behavior, how they interact with teammates, how they interact with fans, how they interact with our front office here, how they interact with the scouts, how they interact with the coaches. And then all of those things, how are they interconnected.”
“And it is, there’s not one specific thing that takes majority precedent over everything. Because if you don’t build a strong and efficient man, you are not going to build a strong and efficient baseball player. I think that you build the man first and then baseball couples on to that.”
“And that’s a vision that Gabe Kapler talked about when he came over here and it has been consistent with [Brandon Gomes] taking the helm.”
Many of the current top Dodger prospects played at Rancho Cucamonga during the last three seasons: Keibert Ruiz, Will Smith, Dennis Santana, Dustin May, DJ Peters, Mitchell White, Gavin Lux and Yadier Alvarez are but a few who were coached by Saylor and his staff.
The Baseball America announcement of Saylor’s award noted that Saylor will not be part of the Dodger organization in 2019 and that he intends to coach for another organization in the future. The Dodgers have not announced their 2019 minor league coaching staff as yet this offseason.
Writer’s note - The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes have always been very cooperative with True Blue LA and this writer. That cooperation extended to their coaching staff and for the last three seaons, Drew Saylor was always generous with his time. I just wanted to thank him again for all of those conversations that enhanced our coverage of the Quakes and the players who performed at Loan Mart Field.