For State College manager Oliver Marmol, things should be fairly straightforward.
The Spikes are coming off of a 48-27 record and two runs shy of a league championship. State College pitched better than everyone and hit the ball better than everyone. A 30-8 record at home and multiple late-inning comebacks marked the most memorable season in the franchises' eight seasons.
But so far down the ladder in the St Louis Cardinals' developmental system, Marmol is working from scratch in his second year at the helm. Some players are making a return to the Spikes, but for the most part it's a whole new look across the roster in 2014. So there is no building off last year's success. They're starting from square one.
That doesn't bother Marmol thoug. He's here to develop players and make the most out of the talent that he has on any given night.
"i'm excited to be out here again," Marmol said "I think I relate to (the team) very well and I've learned a lot in the last year. Every year you learn something. This group works really hard, they have been working since late February, grinding it out everyday. We've got some young guys up the middle and some guys who can throw it up there on the mound."
Despite last season's successes, Marmol doesn't feel any added pressure to repeat the same kind of performance in the upcoming season. The focus for him is the same each and every day. The results will take care of themselves as long as he and his team keep plugging away at their goals.
"We come in here every year with the same mindset," Marmol said. "We're here to develop guys and I'm here to develop them as best as we can and late in the season we'll see where we're at and go from there."
Even though the Spikes are far from the major league level, Marmol can show his players that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, seven different players who have suited up for the Spikes have made their major league debut since last April including outfielder Brock Holt who made his first start for the Boston Red Sox recently.
"The Cardinal organization does a tremendous job developing our own players and giving them an opportunity to play at the big league level and contribute at the big league level. And these guys know that coming in and the drafted guys know where they stand in the organization and we place a huge emphasis on the minor league system so they know they're going to have a shot to go ahead and compete at that level as long as they take care of business."
So with new faces and new names on the Spikes' roster it might mean Marmol has to start from scratch, but it's also a sign he's good at his job.
The Spikes open of their season Friday night in Williamsport and will open the home schedule this Saturday night against the Crosscutters at 7:05 pm.
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