Even before Oliver Marmol retired as an active player at the age of 23, the career .203 hitter had impressed St. Louis Cardinals player development executives and coaches alike. The infielder was a student of the game, asking the right questions and playing a leadership role with his teammates. The Florida native’s bi-lingual skills are ideal for working with young players.
Partway through the 2010 season, Marmol seamlessly moved from playing into a coaching role. The sixth round pick in 2007 was assigned to the Cards’ New York-Penn League affiliate to learn and observe under long-time skipper Dann Bilardello. In 2011, the training wheels came off as Marmol was assigned the hitting coach job in the entry-level Gulf Coast League.
The next season, Marmol made the leap to the lead chair, taking the reigns of the rookie-level Johnson City Cardinals. The 39-28 club reached the 2012 Appalachian League playoffs as a second-place finisher, but lost in the first round.
When the top job at the next step up, in the New York-Penn League, opened up for 2013, Marmol was named to the position. The Cardinals were returning to State College, Pennsylvania for the first time since 2006.
Under Marmol (center) and his staff, pitching coach Dernier Orozco and hitting coach Ramon Ortiz, the Cardinals-sourced Spikes won their division, reaching the NY-PL post-season for the first time in the franchise’s eight-year history. The club’s 48-27 record and .640 winning percentage topped the short-season Class-A league.
The 2013 Spikes became known for playing exciting baseball, logging eight walkoff wins and featuring five league All-Stars. Attendance was up almost 10 percent over 2012.
Though State College dropped the final two games of the Championship Series at home, both contests were decided by a single run.
State College Senior Vice President and General Manager Jason Dambach had the opportunity to work with the new field leader on a regular basis and was most impressed.
“As a young manager, there's always going to be a footnote about his age and experience, but in working with Oli this year, there's no question that he is a rising star in the Cardinals system,” Dambach said. “His level of communication, teaching ability, leadership, and all the other qualities required of a successful minor league manager and player developer are off the charts.”
Ask any organization executive the top priority of the minor leagues and the answer is always "player development.” Cardinals senior special assistant to the general manager Gary LaRocque likes what he has in Marmol, who also served as the skipper of the Cardinals fall instructional league club.
|Marmol and LaRocque|
“With Oli’s leadership, in returning back to State College – we were very successful from a development standpoint,” the farm director said. “I think that all of our State College fans enjoyed a great season, too.”
As the NY-PL playoffs ended, Marmol reflected on his 2013 Spikes.
“This club battled, they learned how to be winning players,” he said. “They understood the pressures of the game, how to slow the game down, they developed in a bunch of different areas. Overall, as an organization, [The Cardinals] develop winning players and that’s what we did this year.”
Congratulations to Oliver Marmol, The Cardinal Nation’s 2013 Manager of the Year.
Previous winners of The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Manager of the Year Award with links to those articles
2012: Mike Shildt, Springfield
2011: Johnny Rodriguez, Quad Cities
2010: Mike Shildt, Johnson City
2009: Chris Maloney, Memphis
2008: Mark DeJohn, Batavia
2007: Ron “Pop” Warner, Springfield
Note: For more information on all The Cardinal Nation minor league award winners for 2013, click on this link. You will be taken to an index page with links to all articles about previous winners across the system club by club, schedule for upcoming award announcements as well as 2013 team recaps. Note that many of the detailed articles are subscriber-only.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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