June 27, 2016

Mostly sunny

Saylor living his dream as minor league manager

Drew Saylor is still living the dream. In fact, the life he’s led is so good he doesn’t want to be woken up.

Saylor, a 2002 Wadsworth graduate, never left the game of baseball after his minor league playing days.

He’s now in his second season as manager of the Tri-City Dust Devils of the Northwest League. The Dust Devils are the short-season Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and Saylor, 30, can’t imagine a better way to live his days than by heading to the park in Pasco, Washington.

“I still have the same passion as when I took the job,” Saylor said. “If this is my lot in life, to stay at this level, I’m completely content with it.

“This is where you get to have a direct impact on guys and see the change. This is a level where you can derive a lot of joy because you see the instrumental process.”

Saylor, who still holds many records at Wadsworth and twice was named Gazette MVP, was elected to the Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame this year, but had no knowledge of the honor. His wife Amanda (Fisher), a 2003 Wadsworth graduate, knew about it, as did those affiliated with Tri-City.

So when officials from the GABHOF showed up to surprise him with his ring before a game, his love for the organization grew even more.

“It was a very special moment,” Saylor said. “I didn’t know about. The Dust Devils all knew. It was something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. It was a lot of fun to share in it.”

After becoming the youngest manager in professional baseball last season, Saylor guided Tri-City to a 34-42 mark in 2013.

The Dust Devils finished the first half of this season 14-24, but entered Friday just two games behind the Everett AquaSox in the second half in the North Division. In the Northwest League, the first-half champ plays the second-half champ for the right to play in the championship.

While the team’s overall record (18-30) isn’t where Saylor wants it to be, he’s much more relaxed managing the club.

“Last year, I think I was a little too stringent,” he said. “Any time that plans deviated, it was tough for me. This year, with the experience, it’s more about being flexible. It’s continuing to have positive energy. There’s times you need to rear them, but it’s about being positive.

“In order to win in the big leagues, you have to learn how to win at the lower levels. The biggest thing for me and my staff is making sure these kids play hard every day. It sounds silly. We’re trying to continue to drive that point all the time. This isn’t just an introduction to professional baseball, it’s how you will be the rest of your life.”

Saylor’s wife and two sons see him all the time. During the season, they live in Richland, Washington. In the offseason, it’s back to Wadsworth, where the Saylors own a home.

As for the future, Saylor is quite comfortable. While he wants to climb the organizational ladder, the former Kent State standout likes what he sees in the mirror.

“It’s been a lot of fun in terms of designing and developing practices and games that benefit players,” he said. “I have my goals. I’d like to continue up in the organization and see how far I can go.”

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.