SALT LAKE CITY — The 2019 Salt Lake Bees season is in the books.
“Everything has gone well this year. I feel like I learned a lot on how to communicate with the players, in-game situation stuff. I know wins and losses, we didn’t (do) as well as we wanted to, but I feel like for sure it’s about player development and a lot of our players have gone up to the big leagues and they’ve helped up there,” Salt Lake manager Lou Marson said.
Under Marson, in his first year as Bees manager, Salt Lake finished 60-79 — third in the PCL Pacific Southern Division — but accomplished the ultimate goal of a minor league franchise: sending players up to the majors and having them contribute once they are there.
Twenty-eight Bees players, excluding MLB rehabs, were sent up to the Show. Matt Ramsey, Luis Rengifo, Griffin Canning, Jared Walsh, Jose Suarez, Matt Thaiss, Jose Rodriguez, Patrick Sandoval and Miguel Del Pozo all made their MLB debuts for the Angels this season.
Bees pitchers Jaime Barria, Dillion Peters, Sandoval, Suarez and Canning all found places in the Angels’ pitching rotation, while Wilfredo Tovar, Dustin Garneau, Thaiss, Rengifo and Hermosillo were among the Bees’ position players who got extended run with the Angels.
Salt Lake was prolific on offense, scoring 870 runs and finishing in the top five offensive teams in the PCL in terms of runs scored. Taylor Ward was a standout on offensive, being selected to the Triple-A All-Star game. He finished with a batting average of .306 while hitting 34 doubles, 27 home runs, drawing 80 walks and 71 RBIs. Jared Walsh launched the long ball all of 2019, blasting 36 home runs to tie the Salt Lake franchise record for home runs in a season, set by Mark Trumbo. He finished first in the PCL in OPS (1.109) and second in the PCL in slugging percentage (.686). Jose Rojas led the PCL in RBIs (107), extra base hits (77) and total bases (297).
“The guys did a solid job, especially offensively. We swung the bats well this year,” Marson said.
The month of August marked the arrival of the most-heralded Angels prospect since Mike Trout, Jo Adell. Adell finished his 27 games at the Triple-A level with a batting average of .264, 32 hits, 22 runs, 11 doubles and eight RBIs.
Salt Lake struggled with pitching this year, finishing with the worst ERA in the PCL — 6.77. The Bees’ pitching staff also allowed the most runs in the PCL and second-most hits in the league, and finished with the highest WHIP, or walks plus hits per inning pitched.
Over five months of baseball, Marson was able to see a lot of faces, as a minor league baseball roster is always in flux. He called getting to know so many players the best part of his job.
“I think that’s the best part, getting to know your players and knowing their personalities and what makes them tick, what makes them go, when to get on them, when to communicate with them, because each player is different,” Marson said.
Over time, Marson found himself more comfortable as a manager at the Triple-A level.
“It’s still baseball, it’s still the same thing. I think that the difference between Double-A and Triple-A, the game is a little faster, it can speed up on you at times, but you’ve just got to think ahead and stay calm and trust your gut,” Marson said.
Marson is already looking forward to next April.
“Every day is a new day and it’s just about player development. It’s about getting these guys to the big leagues and helping the Angels win baseball games, at the end of the day,” Marson said.