WADSWORTH — Drew Saylor smashed records as a player during one of the most successful runs in Wadsworth baseball history.
The 2002 graduate is done playing ball, but that doesn’t mean he’s finished setting marks on the diamond.
Now the manager of High-A Rancho Cucamonga in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, the former Kent State standout became the winningest manager in Quakes history.
With a 231-176 mark in two-plus seasons, Saylor passed Mike Basso, who guided the Quakes to a 223-197 record from 1996-98.
“It means a lot in so many different ways,” Saylor said. “I think more than anything else when you get a chance to break records, especially ones that stand almost a quarter century, you think back to your experiences from Day 1 until now. The different players that have come through here and the impact they’ve been able to have on our big-league roster, the run we made last year all the way up to Game 7 of the World Series, those things are special.
“But even beyond that, it’s just the people that have impacted me and the impact I’ve had on other people. The culture we have and the bond we’ve made between the Quakes and the city of Rancho and the communities surrounding our town, those things have helped me really have solid perspective.”
In an organization where winning is expected, Saylor guided the Quakes to the California League playoffs in each of his first two seasons.
He’ll be there again this season after clinching another berth in the South Division. His squad entered Wednesday five games ahead of the Lancaster Jayhawks after winning the first half of the season.
Rancho Cucamonga was 76-51 and closing in on home-field advantage throughout the playoffs thanks in large part to the Dodgers letting Saylor manage the way he likes.
“I’m very humbled by that,” he said. “I know that the way that I operate as a manger is uncommon. It’s different. It’s not for everybody. To have that type of faith placed in me at an affiliate that’s 46 miles away from Dodger Stadium means a lot.
“You are under a microscope here, albeit it’s not anywhere near like it is at Dodger Stadium, but we have a lot of rehabbers that come through here, a lot of different media personnel that come through here because you are on a bigger stage because of your proximity to the parent club.”
For Saylor, who spent four seasons in the Colorado Rockies organization as a coach, the balance between player development and success is an interesting process.
With five years as a skipper — he was the manager of the Tri-City Dust Devils for the Rockies — Saylor has learned when to push and when to let things roll.
Some of that has to do with past experience, but a lot has to do with the personnel Los Angeles has placed around him.
“I think winning and development go hand-in-hand,” Saylor said. “That’s really where the art of managing comes into play. There are certain nights where you want to be able to have guys go out and see what they can do. They’re going to be in those situations when they get in the big leagues, but I think you don’t learn how to win in the big leagues.
“I think it is done through your farm system and the cultures you create through your affiliates. I think it’s an art. On any given night you have to learn your players and what they need at that time, what the team needs at that time, and you have to balance those things. That’s where managing in the minor leagues gets interesting. You have to be able to do one over the other. That’s why so much faith is placed in the managers in our organization.”
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