Manager Ryan Barba
The Inland Empire 66ers manager, Ryan Barba, is in his second season with the team after managing the corps through the 2018 season. The introductory season for Barba saw him manage the biggest prospects in the Angels system; from Griffin Canning to Jahmai Jones, most everyone on the Top 25 prospect lists have come under Barba’s watchful eye.
Managing a team of young, hungry MiLB’ers is a tough job within itself, but when you add in the developmental responsibilities a batch of top prospects bring you have yourself one of the most important roles within this fledgling Angels organization.
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One way to ensure constant, big-time winning from the core of prospects that will soon head to Anaheim is to simply put them in a winning environment. You don’t have to send them to the playoffs to create this winning structure, but what you do need to do is surround them with the intent of winning and the actions/preparations that go into crafting a winning attitude.
Barba [on sending his players to playoffs]: “I don’t sit there and necessarily focus on the playoffs, we focus on tomorrow. On today. We try to win the day and if we’re in the playoffs at the end of the day then we are. It’s a great experience for the players, it’s a great experience for the coaching staff. But like I said, we come out here, we focus on today and go from there.
“It’s just all of us doing our jobs, you know? Day in and day out we’re getting these players better, hopefully getting them out and improving their craft, communicating with them and giving them the best information we possibly can.
Barba [on the developmental process]: “It’s one of those things where you sit there and you trust the process. When they’re up at the plate we’re making sure they’re executing what they need to execute. Same thing on the mound and defensively, at the end of the day if we take care of those things as a collective unit the game will take care of itself.
We can leave here and look at ourselves in the mirror and understand that we did what we had to do, we executed what we needed to execute. Whether a base hit, a quality at bat, a certain pitch or whatever have you. We understand that and we trust the process, at the end of the day we know the wins and losses will take care of themselves.
Barba [on his 2018 squad]: “We had a really good group. I put the lineup out there and watched them while understanding they’re giving their all, that’s something I felt we had that all season. You don’t really have to sit there and pick out favorites, every single one of them means a lot to our staff, to our organization. When we roll them out there its fun to watch them go out there and do their thing.”
While the focus is on developing players in the MiLB it doesn’t change the game of baseball; a game that ends with winners and losers. You don’t want to trudge a plethora of prospects through the sludge of a losing season. Sure there are players aren’t effected by losing environments, they just want to play and work on their craft, but not all athletes are cut from the same cloth.
In order to provide the best developmental environment possible you want to do whatever you can to send your players home happy and confident. One way to do that is by sending them home winners. It’s not always easy to accomplish that in the MiLB when situational managing has a lesser importance than keeping your players worked. Even if it isn’t the best player for the situation.
Barba [on improving his management skills] “You’re always learning. We have a great staff as a whole, not just here but throughout the organization. You’re in constant communication with them. Spring Training is a great time to enhance your knowledge of the game in all aspects. You’re always trying to learn, soaking up information, what works for you, what may not work for you. What works for your group, communication wise, and what kind of dynamic you can have in the clubhouse. You’re always learning
You do some reading, check in on some books. Gain knowledge that way. You’re always communicating, there are a lot of guys around the organization you talk to. Not only are you co-workers, but you’re also friends. If something pops up in a game, maybe a playoff game or something, you give ’em call and have an open discussion about it. That’s how you learn about it. Just talking about it and throwing in some scenarios. You’re always thinking about the game.
I’m happy where I’m at; it’s not about me, it really isn’t. It’s about the players. If we know everyday that we, as a staff, put everything into these players then we can have that deep breath after the fact knowing that we got everything done that we needed to accomplish for the day and enhance their knowledge and their talents.”
Barba [on keeping his team paced throughout the season]: “I think you pace yourself out from the beginning, you don’t backload it into August or September where you start giving them days off from BP and the such. You pace it out throughout the season, you have a feel for your players. You understand the road trips they go on and how it affects their body. You give them days off and get a feel for your staff and your players.”