Positive coaching leads to positive results.
➼ As a kid, Drew Saylor dreamed of a life and career in baseball. Growing up in Wadsworth, Ohio, he learned the game from his dad. “As early as I can remember, my parents and I played baseball together in the backyard. My dad was a high school baseball coach for over 30 years. He always brought me with him to practice. Once I turned 10 years old, he included me in the workouts. The speed at which they played accelerated my growth in the game,” Saylor says.
After high school, Saylor starred in the infield at Kent State University in Ohio and was drafted in the 13th round by the Florida Marlins in 2006. Thinking of his fondest college memories, Saylor says, “There are so many moments that stick out, but the most impactful was winning the Mid-American Conference title in 2006 and the ability for my family to watch me play my last two years of college baseball.”
Saylor played five seasons in the minor leagues before making the switch to coaching. He promised his wife, Amanda, that he would get a “real” job after his playing career was over and took a brief stint with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. However, his passion for baseball kept calling, and Amanda suggested Drew should consider coaching. “She encouraged me to get back into something I was passionate about,” he says.
Saylor applies many of the lessons of his playing career to his management style. “My journey and research have provided me with an incredible amount of information that continues to shape my leadership model,” Saylor says. “I think the biggest lesson is having a positive and encouraging environment. This is critical to human development.”
Saylor’s coaching path moved from working as a volunteer assistant at Cleveland State and Akron to coaching in the Rockies system in locations like Grand Junction, Colorado; Boise, Idaho; and Pasco, Washington. In 2016, then-Dodgers farm director Gabe Kapler hired him to be the manager of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. After a slow 17–22 start, he led the Quakes to an 87–53 season that culminated in capturing the California League Championship and earning him 2018 America’s Minor League Baseball Manager of the Year.
In 2019, Saylor became the fourth manager for the West Virginia Black Bears. “2018 was a special journey. That group bought into our vision of positivity and encouragement. Even more important, we actively tried to suppress negative and condescending attitudes,” says Saylor. “That is our vision as we move closer to the 2019 season with the Black Bears. I’m excited because we have a tremendous staff that already lives this message daily. Working with Matt Drayer, the Black Bears organization, and the Morgantown community will be an enjoyable experience for everyone.”
Saylor and his family are excited to become a part of the Morgantown community and be closer to his family in Ohio. “The community has a close-knit feel to it and has beautiful scenery,” says Saylor. “Many of our players and staff have commented about how much the city supports our club. Some even have said that it was the best experience of their baseball lives. My family and I cannot wait to be a part of the Black Bears organization and the Morgantown community.”
written by Buddy Butler
photos courtesy of West Virginia Black Bears