What Al Pedrique is bringing to the Marlins' major league staff
In so many ways, the 2021 Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp were confounding. Despite being outscored on the season, despite a grand total of 284 roster moves, an average of more than two per game played that saw the most players used in franchise history (77), despite a franchise-record 21 different starting
In so many ways, the 2021 Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp were confounding.
Despite being outscored on the season, despite a grand total of 284 roster moves, an average of more than two per game played that saw the most players used in franchise history (77), despite a franchise-record 21 different starting pitchers, the Jumbo Shrimp finished 75–55 (.577), tied for the fourth-best record in all of Triple-A.
Of course, some of that is simply luck; a grounder rolling a few feet here, a borderline strike three call there. But the one constant during every day of the season was the club’s coaches, and naturally, manager Al Pedrique wanted to deflect any credit to the rest of his staff and the numerous players to suit up for Jacksonville in 2021.
“I’m very proud of these guys,” Pedrique said. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride with the pandemic and all the rules and protocols, and just to make sure the guys respect and follow all of those rules, it wasn’t easy. I give them credit, the players and staff, that we were able to work together as a team, that everybody was on the same page and everybody understood what our purpose on this team was and what our goal was this season. I’m very proud of these guys.
“Having players in and out is part of the Triple-A job as a manager. You have to get used to it, you have to get organized, prepared when you come to the park that anything can happen. And we had to deal with that this year, where, a few times, we lost our starter the day before he’s supposed to start, so we had to come up with a plan, find somebody who could start the game and give us a chance to win. I give credit to JP (pitching coach Jeremy Powell) and the pitching staff for such a great job, because when we had those situations, they came through.”
No matter how often the players available to put on Pedrique’s lineup card changed, his team’s personality never did; Jacksonville was never out of a game until it recorded its 27th out, earning a remarkable 21 last-at-bat victories. The Jumbo Shrimp also had a penchant for eking out nail-biters, going an astounding 50–27 (.649) mark in games decided by three runs or fewer.
Thus, it’s easy to see why the Miami Marlins are adding Pedrique to their 2022 major league staff as a third base coach. Though he might not take any of the credit for himself, he simply performed exceptionally among highly unusual circumstances throughout the past season. And it’s something he’s done throughout his entire professional baseball career that has spanned nearly 50 years.
Originally signed by the New York Mets as an infielder in 1978, Pedrique logged nine seasons in the minor leagues before finally making his major league debut with the Mets in 1987. He played with New York, Pittsburgh and Detroit in 174 MLB games between 1987–89, but did not conclude his playing career until 1994 after spending time in Triple-A in the Tigers, A’s, Mets, Royals and Marlins’ systems between 1989–94.
Immediately after retiring as a player, Pedrique went into managing, taking over the Short Season Class A Spokane Indians (Kansas City Royals) in 1995. He spent the 1996 and 1997 campaigns with the Rookie-level GCL Royals and then led the Low-A Michigan Battle Cats (Houston Astros) in 1999 and 2000, finishing his tenure with a Midwest League championship. He moved onto Arizona’s organization, piloting Double-A El Paso in 2001 and Triple-A Tucson in 2003 before a stint in 2004 as the Diamondbacks’ third base coach and interim manager.
Pedrique then went into scouting for Houston, most famously championing Jose Altuve for the Astros to sign in 2007. He eventually returned to the dugout in the New York Yankees’ organization, guiding Low-A Charleston in 2013, High-A Tampa in 2014, Double-A Trenton in 2015 and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in both 2016 and 2017. The native of Valencia, Venezuela finally returned to the major leagues on the Oakland A’s staff as first base coach (2018) and third base coach (2019–20).
Like what he accomplished in 2021 with the Jumbo Shrimp, the majority of Pedrique’s life has been spent finding critical players and then developing them for winning organizations. For a Marlins team that has not made the playoffs in a full season since 2003, posting 14 losing seasons in the 18 campaigns since, that experience is critical as some of Miami’s young players begin to make their way to the major leagues.
In talking with Pedrique when Jacksonville closed the 2021 season in October in Gwinnett, he seemed to relate the Marlins’ current rebuilding position to what he experienced while he was with the Yankees. With New York, he helped tutor many of the current stars in the minor leagues before they reached the Bronx, guiding many of them up the ladder from Low-A all the way to Triple-A. Now, with the Marlins, he’s going to have a hand in helping those young players who have already graduated find success in The Show. If he’s able to bring the big league club anything similar to what he accomplished in Jacksonville in 2021 or throughout his nearly five-decade baseball life, it could wind up being a massive success for Miami.
“We’ve got a lot of good players in the lower levels,” Pedrique said. “The good thing about this is they’re going to come up, and when you have a group of prospects with a lot of talent that are playing together, that are moving up together, it’s a sign that hopefully when they get to the big leagues in about 2–3 years, that’s when you’re going to start seeing and having fun years and being able to compete, and move on to the playoffs and the World Series.
“I feel good about this organization, that we’re moving forward, that we’re heading in the right direction. The key for these kids is to stay healthy, and if they all come up together, it reminds me of when I was in the Yankees in Double-A and Triple-A. I can see this organization down the road, I would say probably 2–3 years, we’re going to be able to compete, have some fun, and hopefully, these kids, they play with each other for a long time, they get used to, comfortable with each other, and we’re going to start seeing a lot of positive things on the field for the Marlins.”