“We’re never going to sacrifice the development of a player for a win but we do feel like winning is a part of development,” said Nationals director of player development Doug Harris. “That is a goal every night we go out, our goal is to win a ballgame.”
There are different obstacles in the minor leagues, however, to doing that. When Harris says the organization will “never sacrifice the development of a player for a win,” he means in tactical ways.
They won’t vary from the set parameters for use of relief pitchers, for example. And they won’t pinch hit for a top prospect, even if the game situation may dictate it.
“We’re never going to do that,” Harris said. “Ever.”
“Sometimes you have to give up a chance to win a game for their development,” Knorr said. “There are some instances where ‘We might lose this one but I need this guy to do this, I need to develop him in this respect.’ But hopefully by doing that, they develop faster and you end up winning the games anyway.”
The development of the players comes first. Winning is still an important aspect. The experience of playing in the playoffs is also something the Nationals like, and want their players to get as often as possible.
“I think it speaks to depth in the system,” Harris said of the affiliates’ success this year. “I think it speaks to discipline in how they prepare and play the game and I also think it’s a mindset. … It’s a fringe benefit, is what it is.”