Yankees’ Tampa Tarpons manager Rachel Balkovec is “grateful” for practice time with minor leaguers

Rachel Balkovec, who was named the first woman to manage a professional baseball team, is one of the leaders at the New York Yankees’ minor league minicamp. She will lead the Low-A Tampa Tarpons this season.

The 34-year-old was also the first woman to be a full-time minor league strength and conditioning coach, and then became the first to be a full-time hitting coach in the minors with the Yankees. Several weeks ago, the Bombers appointed her as the Tarpons’ boss.

“I’m grateful for this time to practice,” Balkovec said to the AP after Wednesday’s workout. “These guys are here to prepare, and I’m also here studying every morning watching video and learning aspects of defense. Learning our philosophies inside and out on defense.”

“It’s just a little bit of everything right now,” Balkovec said. “Kind of catching up on the defensive end of things and still spending some time in the cages with hitting and still keeping my foot there. So it’s really all over the map right now.”

One of the hitters who could be under her wing is Yankees’ uber-prospect Jasson Dominguez, who should be starting the year at Low-A.

The Yankees trust Balkovec to help develop their most valuable prospects

The Yankees are trusting Balkovec with the development of their young prospects, and she is more than prepared for the challenge, having accumulated experiences in college and other MLB teams before arriving to the Bronx. She has already formed a strong bond with some of the players, and things have started to flow naturally.

“The players calling me ‘Skip’ and everything, kind of razzing me a little bit, but it’s been extremely well-received and it feels really natural to be honest with you,” Balkovec said. “Getting the opportunity to set a standard is always a privilege and it’s something that I’ve done my whole life, wanted to do my whole life and this role is just a little more of that.”

“In a good way it feels something that’s even more natural to me than being a hitting coach,” Balkovec also stated.

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