TAMPA, FL – Will Rachel Balkovich climb the New York Yankees ladder and become Somerset Patriots manager?
However, even then, she’s been enjoying the ride as the running woman in her professional baseball, and is currently in her first year at the helm of the Low-A Tampa Tarpons.
“The goal is just to get better, that’s it,” Balkovich told MyCentralJersey.com recently.
“The goal for me, in the long run, is to be a general manager. So if I never climb over Tampa, I don’t really care. I never said my goal was to climb the minor league system and make it to the major leagues, I am just a generalist And I’d rather be a jack of all trades and not master anything. That’s how I work, so I learn as much as I can here before moving on to my next step, whatever that may be.”
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He’s been the stylish pioneer in professional baseball for a decade. The 34-year-old earned a master’s degree in kinesiology from LSU before taking an internship with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, working in rookie ball in Johnson City, Tennessee. After a year with the Chicago White Sox, she returned to the Cardinals Organization as the first woman to work full time as a strength and conditioning coordinator at the Palace.
After four years in the Houston Astros system in a variety of roles, she joined the Yankees before the eventually canceled 2020 season and spent the past year as the batting coach for the Bronx Bombers’ Florida Complex League.
Even with all that experience, management was an entirely different animal — the Tarpons finished the first-half in the Florida State League worse 27-39, which is an indication of how some of the team’s prospects performed as well. All in more than anything else—a challenge that she admitted was just as challenging, if not more, than she had expected.
“It has been challenging, as expected,” said Balkovich, who makes a weekly call to other managers in the organization and communicates with them separately to gain knowledge about how they handle certain situations.
“I think any time someone asks that question, I think the ready answer would be, ‘Oh, that was great. “But it was a learning process for me. I obviously got a lot of support from the Yankees and fortunately I got a lot of support from the players. These are the guys I’ve lived with last year and obviously respecting them helps a lot. I’m learning a lot of new things, which is It’s never uncomfortable, but that’s not really what I’m looking for anyway. It was just a learning experience.”
It was also an experience that went a long way in helping prepare her for any next step towards this end goal.
“It was huge,” Balkovich said. “Having that perspective, having a broader perspective is what I wanted. And I’m glad I’m in this role because I have different kinds of conversations. Going from strength and conditioning to hitting, I’m in a lot of conversations about organizational moves, players, deals, etc. Now, as a manager, you’re You hear these conversations more.So, I’m a generalist, and that’s what I like to be, but the more I can zoom out the better. This is the field role where the picture gets smaller and gets the bigger picture of everything. It’s been a huge thing for my character growth “.
While it’s unclear if we’ll see Balkovec at the TD Bank Ballpark in Somerset one day, the future of her players looks more clear. There are currently some of Tampa’s most valuable prospects for the franchise, including MLB Pipeline’s No. 16 Alexander Vargas and No. 18 catcher Antonio Gomez, but most eyes are still focused on third-ranked defensive player Jason Dominguez, who is only behind the current Somerset. Anthony Volpi and former Patriots shortstop Oswald Perazza in the Yankees’ potential rankings.
“Jason is the obvious one,” Balkovich said. “He’s doing a much better job, he’s kind of climbing the ranks this season and he’s learning a lot and putting in a lot of work in what we asked him to work on. He’s definitely outstanding now.”
Heading into the weekend, “The Martian” has a 0.259 run with eight home runs and 33 RBI in his first 66 games, and he’s about to upgrade to High-A Hudson Valley at any time it seems, and he’s dealing with the pressure of extremely high expectations. Very well, according to Balkovich.
“It works really well,” she said. “One of his favorite sayings is ‘me vs. me.’ He doesn’t want to be compared to anyone else. If he hears someone comparing him to Mike Trout, he’s always like, ‘I don’t want to be Mike Trout, I want to be me and the best version of me.’ He handles it very well, honestly.”
While Vargas (.181) and Gomez (.218) have performed pretty poorly this year, there are others that Balkovich says should be on the radar to get to Somerset soon, right-hand shooter Chandler Champlain (66 strokes in 56.1 innings) ), which impressed him early on. Another player who has stood out so far so far who has largely stayed out of the consideration of the possibilities for one reason or another is cornerback Grant Richardson, who emerged as a name to watch after being selected in Round 17 of the MLB Draft last year and his third last season. Team with 31 RBI.
“He’s someone who has done a lot of work and it has been paying off for him,” Balkovich said. “He has a lot of potential with his brute strength which we love. He’s definitely someone who has come in and hasn’t surprised anyone, but I think his potential is just showing more. I know our hitting coach, Kevin Martyr, has been working with him a lot on his swing, and he just got his work ethic on.” Which is also insatiable, so he puts effort into studying and makes sure he does everything he can for his end. To put it all together.”