The Mariners gathered all their minor-league players — including those in major-league camp who were in the minors last year — to present championship rings to the Tacoma Rainiers and Everett AquaSox. The Pacific Coast League title ring of Tacoma trainer Tom Newberg is pictured above. The AquaSox won the Northwest League title.
The Mariners made quite the show of it. They introduced their entire minor-league staff, including coaches, coordinators and office personnel, and general manager Jack Zduriencik addressed all the minor-league players (pictured above, with High Desert manager Jose Moreno translating his remarks into Spanish.
Among his comments:
“I said this last year, and I’m going to say it again, we want to make this the best minor league system in all of baseball.”
“You build it with people of character. You build it with people buying in. You build it with talent. You build it with unity.”
“”Every single player here wants to be a major league baseball player. You are never going to get back these days. You need to maximize your time. Do not sell yourself short.”
“A lot of players get to the big leagues of talent, but a lot more players get to the big leagues because of this (pointing to his heart.”
“We are here for you, so be here for us.”
The Mariners had eight of their nine minor-league affiliates advance to the playoffs last year, most of any team in baseball. The Rainiers won despite a midseason managerial change resulting when Daren Brown was elevated to the big-league job after Don Wakamatsu’s firing on Aug. 9. Jose Castro finished manging the Rainiers, including the playoffs. Numerous players who had stints with the Mariners last year got rings, including Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, David Pauley, Garrett Olson, Adam Moore, Greg Halman, Dan Cortes, and Michael Saunders. Below, Dustin Ackley receives his ring from Pedro Grifol, the Mariners’ director of minor-league operations. Below that, the Rainiers gather for a team photo.