An inside look at the Mariners’ remarkable turnaround in the minors

Aug 29, 2016, 9:17 AM | Updated: 11:04 am

General manager Jerry Dipoto has implemented new processes in the Mariners' minor-league system. (A...

General manager Jerry Dipoto has implemented new processes in the Mariners' minor-league system. (AP)


ARLINGTON – A remarkable turnaround has occurred in the Mariners’ minor league organizations.

A year ago, the team’s affiliates finished 29th in overall organizational standings – based on the combined records of the team’s domestic minor-league affiliates. As of Monday, the 2016 team’s sit in second, with a chance to finish first. General manager Jerry Dipoto and director of player development Andy McKay believe that learning to win and winning at the minor league level is important, and we are seeing that. Or, rather, we are seeing that in the standings.

Drayer: Rookie Dan Altavilla has ‘dream come true’ in strong Mariners debut

How the near-worst to near-first turnaround has occurred is interesting. Coaches are setting hitting and pitching philosophies. Achievements are being acknowledged. Skills are being tracked and a style of play is being encouraged. You have heard about “C the Z” (Control the Zone), well, there is also “PTPA” – a.k.a productive team plate appearances – that are being tracked in a tournament bracket with individuals squaring off against each other to see who best contributes in the category. These are all things I’ve learned from people inside the organization over the last couple of weeks. During the postgame show Saturday in Chicago, I invited Double-A Jackson play-by-play announcer Brandon Liebhaber to give us a better picture of what all of this looks like. Check out the podcast here.

The conversation starts with Liebhaber’s reaction to reliever Dan Altavilla’s call up from Jackson straight to the big league earlier in the day. Liebhaber also discusses what he’s seen on a day-to-day basis in the style of play that is being coached, the difference between developing individual talent versus developing team players, “C to Z,” “PTPA” and, finally, a look at outfielder Tyler O’Neill’s year. Liebhaber does a great job of painting a picture of what these minor-league philosophies look like in practice. It’s a quick look, and I hope to do more with this down the road.

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Mostly Sunny
High 78° | Low 55°
Mariners are on the road.
Mariners at Marlins today at 1:10pm

Shannon Drayer

Seattle Mariners catcher Mitch Garver...

Shannon Drayer

Mariners Insider: An unexpected move that may pay off for all involved

The decision to have Mitch Garver move into the backup catcher role is paying dividends for the veteran and other Seattle Mariners.

4 days ago

Seattle Mariners Dylan Moore...

Shannon Drayer

Mariners Insider: Quick hits after AL West leaders’ 6-1 homestand

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports on the AL West race, the offense's stronger June, the upcoming Cleveland series and more.

5 days ago

Seattle Mariners Luke Raley...

Brent Stecker

Mariners’ Luke Raley says he got ‘perfect pitch’ for gutsy bunt

The Seattle Mariners' Luke Raley told Shannon Drayer on the field Monday why a 99 mph fastball off the plate was the "perfect pitch" for his game-tying bunt single.

11 days ago

Seattle Mariners Ryan Bliss...

Shannon Drayer

Mariners Insider: The transition for rookie Ryan Bliss to big leagues

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports caught up with rookie second baseman Ryan Bliss a day after his first MLB home run.

12 days ago

Seattle Mariners starter Bryan Woo...

Shannon Drayer

How Mariners starter Bryan Woo’s fastballs are so effective

Hitters know they're probably getting a fastball from Seattle Mariners starter Bryan Woo, but they still can't hit it.

16 days ago

Seattle Mariners closer Andrés Muñoz...

Shannon Drayer

Seattle Mariners closer Andrés Muñoz optimistic about ailing back

The Seattle Mariners are awaiting results of an MRI after closer Andrés Muñoz's collision at home plate against the Oakland A's.

16 days ago

An inside look at the Mariners’ remarkable turnaround in the minors