Yankees: Meet Josh Olerud – President Of AAA Scranton
As Yankees fans, we probably tend to concentrate mostly on the big-league club. That’s only natural. But at the same time, the ball clubs that operate as part of the team’s farm systems are also unique and separate franchises and organizations, which need to be run just like the big club. Here’s a profile of what it’s like to be President of one of these franchises: Meet Josh Olerud, President and Chief Operating Officer of AAA Scranton.
The Yankees are fortunate in knowing that hundreds of cities across the United States would give anything to host the Triple-A farm team of the most successful franchise in all of Major League Baseball. And it would follow that even more envy might be directed at the team in Scranton because of the talent level that is present there today and beyond. In fact, it can be said that, on certain days, Scranton will field a team that is comparable to the ones some teams in the majors are fielding.
Well, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but you get the idea. Nevertheless, the team in Scranton is a big deal (And you folks in Wilkes-Barre will have to excuse me for not including you in the actual team name because it’s simply too long to keep typing). In a wide-ranging interview with the Times Leader, Josh Olerud, the Railriders President, and COO, described what it’s like to be one step away from the Bronx.
Much like the Yankees, except on a lower scale, Josh Olerud runs a business. He has a stadium to operate, personnel to hire and manage, a grounds crew, and tickets that need to be sold. Affiliation
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with the Yankees works to his advantage, but the chores still need to be done. Before coming to the Railriders in 2015, Olerud spent time in the Carolina League with the Potomac Nationals and Frontier League with the Rockford RiverHawks, so he is not a novice to the industry.
When he saw the opportunity arise to make a change, he jumped at it. Because the Yankees are part owners of the franchise in Pennsylvania, the interview process was cumbersome. Nevertheless, it was a no-brainer as he told the Times Leader:
“This is something I really want. I see a lot of opportunity here, there’s a lot of room for growth, it’s the New York Yankees, the farm system, beautiful ballpark.”
Growing up in Minnesota, he wasn’t much of a Yankees fan because “they always were the team that knocked the Twins out in the playoffs, and it was tough.” Now, however, you might even say that he’s been converted, having seen the light. He explains:
“To work for them and to work with them, and to be a part of this youth movement — the developmental process with the rich minor league system that they have — I think it’s exciting. You don’t get to control who you get on that side. You always hope you have a winning team, and sometimes if you win you don’t have the best players. Well, we were winning and we had the best players, and I don’t think that’s going to stop anytime soon.”
His job carries with it a good deal of responsibility that often puts him in situations where the interests of the Railriders must take second place to the benefit of the Yankees. The merry-go-round of players coming and going from Scranton to the Bronx, and then back again, even if only for a few days, is one of his biggest challenges. To which, he tells the Times Leader:
“I think the biggest role and the biggest responsibility at the minor league level is to make sure we give the coaching staff and the players and the affiliate — the Yankees — all the tools that they need at Scranton for these guys to succeed.”
At the same time, he’s also dealing with players who are still, basically, kids. They’re not quite the Single-A novices, but they still need ongoing mentoring and teaching, and not only with regards to
the physical skills they’ll need to move on but also the intangibles that go with what lies ahead for them. Olerud explains:
“Here we want to give these guys the opportunity to get as much of the things that they need, whether it’s the facility or it’s making sure their family’s good so they can focus on work, the tools in the clubhouse and all that different stuff so they can get their work done and get on the road. Then we handle their travel and league policies.”
Olerud will also be operating as the General Manager of the team in 2017, although he’s mentoring a replacement who’s currently his assistant. He’ll keep his phone line open as he knows that there will be numerous conversations between himself and Brian Cashman as the season moves along. Who’s ready and who’s not will be the central question, and Cashman will expect that he has available and reliable answers.
If he fails, though, I’ve got the perfect spot in my town that the Yankees can move to on a moment’s notice.