Yankees’ Single-A manager departs for Marlins to become Director of Player Development

Syndication: Lakeland Ledger
Robert Magobet / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Yankees take a loss to their Minor League coaching staff as Rachel Balkovec, the first woman to ever manage a MiLB team, heads south to the Miami Marlins to become the Director of Player Development according to Christina De Nicola of MLB.com. Balkovec was one of the more highly-regarded minds in the organization due to her background in player development and strong communication skills.

She got her foot in the affiliated door with the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2012 as a strength and conditioning coach in Rookie Ball before going to the Houston Astros as the Latin American strength and conditioning coach in 2016. It was there that she picked up the ability to speak Spanish and communicate with players in multiple languages, also breaking the gender barrier in that specific role.

Balkovec joined the Yankees for the 2020 season as a MiLB hitting coach and became the Tampa Tarpons’ manager ahead of the 2022 season.

Yankees See Bright Mind Take a Bigger Role in Miami

Syndication: Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Rachel Balkovec is the first woman ever to manage a men’s minor league team for the Tampa Tarpons. Tampa Tarpons won 4-1 over the Bradenton Marauders at Bradenton’s LECOM Park Wednesday evening June, 29, 2022.

Rachel Balkovec made history back in 2022, and she will become one of the few women in baseball to hold a high-ranking position in an organization. She was highly regarded in the Yankees’ organization and with her background with organizations like the Cardinals and Astros, smart teams have consistently valued her input and contributions. The Miami Marlins, who are now operated by Peter Bendix, have a strong infrastructure in place in terms of baseball operations and will follow suit in breaking gender roles.

Women in sports have often been at a disadvantage in hiring processes, and this is a huge step forward for the industry as they try and move past the stigmas that have prevented hiring such as this one in the past. In terms of educational background, Balkovec has two master’s degrees, one in kinesiology and another in human movement sciences, which have allowed her to excel in coaching and player development roles.

When the Yankees hired James Rowson, a huge part of the appeal was the ability to communicate offensive terminology at different levels of proficiency, which would allow players to better relate to him. Part of that experience was developed in a bench coach role with the Miami Marlins, and for Rachel Balkovec, that developed in her aforementioned stints as a manager and coach at various MiLB levels.

It’s a tough blow for the Yankees’ organization, but they already had a director of player development in place, and they’ve seen multiple excellent MiLB coaches depart for greater opportunities elsewhere. Another coach who recently departed the organization includes Double-A pitching coach Grayson Crawford, who led a Somerset group that finished at the top of the Eastern League in ERA.

The Miami Marlins are getting one of the brightest minds in the organization, and she’s only 36 years old, making her one of the youngest in the industry as well. Balkovec continues to be a trailblazer in the sport, and the Yankees will have to find a new Single-A coach will likely be announced in the coming weeks. It’s a great addition for the Marlins, and it’s also a great day for baseball, as it hopefully continues down the path of progressing with the times.