ALTOONA- The ultimate goal of any prospect is to make it to the big leagues and stick. The ways a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates develops a prospect to reach that goal varies, but the end goal is one and the same.
We’ve heard Pirates general manager Ben Cherington reference some of the different avenues the team has taken with developing a player, but one of the biggest ways of development is winning at the minor league level.
Cherington has referenced how much winning in the minor leagues can mean to a player’s development and what a winning culture can do to a player’s psyche when/if he makes it to the big leagues.
When I was in Altoona covering the Curve, I had a chance to talk to their manager Callix Crabbe about the importance of a winning culture.
“I think winning is super important,” said Crabbe. “I think you’re teaching them how to lay bricks up on bricks. I think the bricks are coming from two sides of the ball, so you have the pitching, defense, and hitting. Everybody has one particular brick, and they try to put more bricks on top of each other so they can create a winning team.”
Crabbe has a way of conveying very important messages with eloquent analogies.
When any general manager makes moves, the end goal for them is to win. No one likes losing, so there is no better way to convey a message of a winning culture than in the minor leagues.
“If you do good and create winning plays, you win more,” said Crabbe. “Everything is about winning, actually. Every decision, every preparation, the thought process, the leadership in the clubhouse, it’s all intertwined.
“The analogy I used recently was, ‘Imagine if you are a tree and every single person is one individual root and all they’re doing is trying to make their roots as strong as possible.’ If their roots are as strong as possible, then the tree is going to get bigger and stronger, and ultimately, the tree is going to bear bigger and better fruit.”
I witnessed a lot of these kinds of talks with Crabbe and the rest of the coaching staff in Altoona with the players. Right before every game, there is a hitter meeting where the coaches gather the players up and give scouting reports, tips, and tricks.
These kinds of talks are preparing these guys to win that particular game, but also the game of life, and help them achieve their goal of reaching the major leagues to help feed them and their families.
There is definitely something in the water in Altoona, and a winning culture seems to be the biggest product of that special water.