Drew Saylor, the manager of the Tri-City Dust Devils, sat in his office in the Dave Lemak Memorial Clubhouse reflecting on his team’s performance in the Northwest League’s first half.
The record wasn’t pretty at 14-24, as the Dust Devils finished 11 games out of first place, last in the NWL in ERA and seventh in batting average.
But Saylor — like a catcher trying to frame an off-target slider — did his best to give a more positive outlook for the next 38 games.
“Team-wise, we started out well. We had some older guys in Tauch (Mike Tauchman) and David Bergin. Those guys set the table for the young guys,” Saylor said.
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Tauchman was a NWL All-Star in 2013 and Bergin had established himself among the leaders in several NWL hitting categories in June. But both were promoted on June 25 — Tauchman to the High-A Modesto Nuts and Bergin to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers.
“We still need to continue to work together as a team, but we’re still looking for guys to consistently fill that void of leadership. Maybe not a void, an absence,” Saylor said. “That’s one of our jobs as coaches. We’ve got to facilitate that. That’s the exciting thing about this level, is we get to help develop the next crop of leaders.”
Saylor said he likes the way catcher Robbie Perkins is providing a solid role model on defense, and he likes the way shortstop Chris Rabago, a 13th-round draft pick out of UC Irvine, is carrying himself in a leadership role.
“It’s interesting to see the evolution of (team leadership). We just need more consistency in that,” Saylor said.
Saylor is also excited about the recent Dust Devils selections to the NWL All-Star game on Aug. 6 at PK Park in Eugene.
Tri-City will be represented by four players — outfielder Marcos Derkes, infielder Cesar Galvez and pitchers Helmis Rodriguez and Jerad McCrummen. A fifth player, Dust Devils closer Scott Firth, was selected to play but was promoted to the Asheville Tourists, the Colorado Rockies Low-A affiliate in North Carolina, on Sunday.
“We definitely saw a rising star in Helmis Rodriguez. He’s been our anchor,” Saylor said. “Marcos had a great first half, Galvez had a big knock last night — a three-run double — and Scotty Firth was leading the league in saves.”
Notes: Firth wasn’t the only Dust Devils player to earn a promotion. OF Dillon Thomas, a fourth-round draft pick in 2011, was assigned to Low-A Asheville on July 21.
To take their place, the Rockies assigned two players — RHP Dylan Stamey, a 13th-round draft pick by the Rockies in 2013, and OF Denzel Richardson, an undrafted free agent who hit just .213 in 22 games but stole seven bases.
w For the second time in three weeks, a Tri-City pitcher was named the NWL pitcher of the week. Two weeks ago, it was Rodriguez, who leads the league in ERA. This time it’s Logan Sawyer, who threw nine scoreless innings of relief last week, anchored by a spotless, five-inning appearance in a win at Everett. Sawyer, a 29th-round draft pick out of Lincoln Memorial College in Tennessee, owns a 0.59 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings of relief.
w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; email@example.com