Drafted by the Seattle Mariners just two years ago, North Vancouver’s Louis Boyd has already made his debut … as a professional baseball manager.
Last night Boyd guided the Everett AquaSox, the Class A Short Season affiliate for the Mariners, to a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canadians at beautiful Nat Bailey Stadium.
Just two years ago the 25-year-old was playing for the AquaSox after getting picked by the Mariners in the 24th round of the 2017 MLB draft. Boyd always profiled as a great glove, high character, low slugging infielder, and in a couple of years of pro ball it became clear that the low slugging was likely going to keep him in the low minors. But the smarts and the character always shone through, so much so that this week Boyd was yanked off the roster of the Mariners’ Class A Advanced affiliate in Modesto, Calif., and told to get up to Everett to take charge of the AquaSox following the mutually agreed-upon departure of former manager Jose Moreno. And so, at age 25, Boyd is the 13th manager in AquaSox history, and the youngest manager in the Northwest League.
The reality of it all hit Boyd as he stepped onto the field just before last night’s game, lining up beside his new team in his old hometown.
“My favourite moment from last night was just toeing up the line and listening to the Canadian national anthem,” Boyd told the North Shore News. “It was pretty sweet, all the fans were singing it and I hadn’t heard it in a while playing all the games in the U.S. It was really special to hear the Canadian anthem to start my first game as a manager.”
While the move from borderline pro player to dynamic young manager may seem like an extreme one, Boyd should be used to dramatic transitions by now. His move into pro baseball was similarly surprising.
In 2017 Boyd wrapped up a college playing career that included a stop in Cochise Community College in Douglas, Arizona, before two successful seasons at the University of Arizona where he helped the Wildcats reach the final of the College World Series.
Following his collegiate career Boyd moved on from baseball, taking an internship with Nike. During an orientation meeting on his fourth day of work at Nike’s Oregon headquarters, however, Boyd took a phone call giving him some very surprising news: he’d been drafted.
With the blessing of his brief bosses, Boyd said goodbye to Nike and hit the road for Seattle’s player development facility in Peoria, Ariz.
In two seasons of pro ball, 150 games overall, Boyd registered a .240 batting average and .310 on-base percentage. He reported for playing duty again this year but didn’t play a game in Modesto, instead transitioning into the team’s infield coach. The organization saw enough in that brief stint to give him a coaching promotion as Everett’s new manager.
“It’s been a crazy couple of years, to say the least,” said Boyd, adding that it was a “storybook” moment to make his managerial debut in Vancouver against the Canadians, a club he grew up watching. “It was a little nerve-wracking, but it was extremely fun. There’s a great staff in Everett, they were helping me out throughout the game, throughout the process. It was just awesome overall having friends and family in the stands to enjoy that experience with.”
Boyd, already well-versed in managerial motivation, gave all the credit to his players for win No. 1.
“They played great last night, some really clutch hitting from our offence and great defence, great pitching. It makes my job easier when the guys are playing phenomenally, like they were last night.”
Some in the baseball world may question the wisdom of handing they keys to a pro team over to a 25-year-old rookie, but AquaSox general manager Danny Tetzlaff had no such reservations after meeting with Boyd.
“I was very impressed – I don’t have any reservations at all. I think he’s going to do a great job,” he said. “He’s just got a very calm and cool demeanour and I can tell he wants to learn about people in a very positive way, and I think in today’s environment that’s the best way to coach. He can relate to the guys, he knows what they’re going through at the minor league level.”
Boyd said he’s already loving everything he’s seen in Everett from the city itself to the players, game day staff and front office. Speaking to the North Shore News, Tetzlaff already felt comfortable enough about his new manager to laugh about Boyd’s trip through Everett as a player two years ago.
“I said ‘the fans are going to be so excited that you’re back.’ I said that tongue in cheek, because he was only here for six games,” said Tetzlaff with a laugh. “I also said I looked at your stats and I was hoping to see that you stole three bases in one game or something so we’d have something to talk about. Louis said ‘if I did that, I’d still be playing.’”
For his part, Boyd said he felt “pure elation” when he got the call to become Everett’s manager, adding that he sees his young age as no obstacle to success.
“It’s just a number,” said Boyd. “I feel I’ve been extremely lucky when I was playing to be surrounded by great coaches and in my short coaching career, surrounded by awesome coaches with a wealth of knowledge. I’ve just tried to over the years soak in and sponge up as much information as possible from as many sources as possible.”
Boyd listed his mom and dad, who both coached him when he first started playing, as well as North Shore Twins coaches Larson Bauck, Brooks McNiven and Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer John Haar as some of his inspirational baseball influences. His own coaching philosophy will focus on giving players the support they need to reach their full potential.
“It’s just making sure that the guys can be exactly who they are, they have the freedom to be themselves and have fun,” said Boyd. “Preparation is always going to be key for me. When you prepare correctly and prepare well, you can just play free on the field and have fun competing with your teammates. Development is going to be No. 1 for me, making sure that guys are getting better on a daily basis.”
Boyd’s career has already taken some fascinating twists and turns and it seems likely there are more big things in store, but the young manager said he makes a point of staying focused on the present.
“We have a mantra here with Seattle called ‘embrace your grass.’ You’re not always where you want to be as a player, but since it’s a long road to the big leagues you’ve really got to be where your feet are, embrace your grass. I’m really not looking towards the future, I’m just going to try to enjoy every single day, as cliché as that sounds. Enjoy every day, give my everything to the players and see how much better they can get.”