At the Triple-A level, RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco has seen plenty of success.
From 2003-08, while leading the Sacramento Rivercats (Oakland Athletics organization), DeFrancesco won three PCL titles. He received the Minor League Manager of the Year award in 2003 when Sacramento went 92-52.
Now in his second season managing Oklahoma City, DeFrancesco is back in a familiar place, guiding a first-place team deep into the summer.
Entering Saturday, the RedHawks (53-39) were tied with Albuquerque for the PCL American Southern division lead. As his team geared up for a second-half postseason run, DeFrancesco sat down to talk about the RedHawks' chances.
Q: How do you feel about this team right now? Happy with where you guys are at?
A: Absolutely. Tied for first place is a good place to be.
You've coached a lot of good Triple-A teams in the past. How does this one compare?
I like them. We got a nice mix of veterans and prospects here. My main concern is our pitching staff. They've been struggling lately, but I think that's going to change. We need our starters to give us some quality innings.
Because of the MLB trading deadline and September call-ups, how much different is the second half of the Triple-A season compared to the first?
Yeah, it's all part of being in Triple-A. With the trade deadline and the way the Astros are going, it kind of determines our outcome here. Sept. 1 has always been an issue in the minor leagues because they will take whoever they need to get through the month. Sometimes you lose some of your best players, sometimes they wait until the playoffs are over, sometimes they take them during the playoffs. But that's our number one goal here, we are trying to get into the playoffs and set the tone for the organization.
What's the difference between your parent club being a buyer or a seller at the MLB trade deadline?
I've been on both ends. (Houston GM Jeff) Luhnow and (manager Brad) Mills are going to do everything they can to improve their team. Whatever it is, whether it's this year or in the future. Last year it was Hunter Pence, (Michael) Bourn and (Jeff) Keppinger getting shipped out and it brought about 10 to 12 players to the organization. This year I see the same thing. We already got a No. 1 player (Matt Dominguez) in here.
Would you say that's the side that benefits a Triple-A team the most, when the parent club is shipping in new guys?
Yeah, I've been on both ends. We lost some of our best players in Triple-A before, where they trade away a great arm and bat because they need some help up there.