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Kristopher Negrón Named Triple-A West Manager of the Year; José Marmolejos Most Valuable Player

October 5, 2021 - Triple-A West League (AAA West) - Tacoma Rainiers News Release

TACOMA, WA - Tacoma Rainiers Manager Kristopher Negrón has been voted Triple-A West Manager of The Year by league broadcasters, Minor League Baseball executives and media after leading Tacoma to a 78-52 record (.600), and the 2021 league championship. 1B/OF José Marmolejos has been voted league Most Valuable Player, while winning the batting title and playing in 41 MLB games with the Seattle Mariners this season.

The Rainiers clinched the Triple-A West regular season championship on September 18 at El Paso (no playoffs in 2021, due to the pandemic-related delay of the season until May 6). Negron is the first Tacoma Manager of The Year since Dan Rohn won in consecutive seasons, 2004 and 2005, in the Pacific Coast League. Marmolejos is the first Tacoma MVP since Dick Phillips of the 1961 Tacoma Giants (PCL), who were also league champions.

Negrón, 35, was an active player as recently as 2019, splitting that season between Tacoma, the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Negrón brought a 14-year professional playing career as a versatile INF/OF to his first season as manager, including 170 career Major League games between 2012 and 2019 with Cincinnati, Arizona, Seattle and L.A. His award is all the more impressive considering 2021 was his first season as a manager or coach at any professional level. Negrón turned pro in 2006, as a seventh round draft selection of the Boston Red Sox. His playing career spanned over 1,600 professional games.

While Negrón led the Rainiers to the pinnacle in their league, his guidance has also been crucial for development of Seattle Mariners top prospects in Tacoma. Under his watch, the Rainiers committed the fewest errors in their league, the pitching staff walked the fewest batters of all Triple-A West clubs, and Tacoma batters drew the most walks in all of Triple-A Baseball. Seven 2021 Rainiers (including top prospects Logan Gilbert, Jarred Kelenic, Cal Raleigh and Darren McCaughan) made their Major League debut this season with the tutelage of Negrón, helping the Mariners remain in the American League Wild Card race into the season's final weekend.

Marmolejos, 28, hit a career-high 30 home runs this season, socking four in the Majors with Seattle and 26 more in only 83 games with Tacoma to lead the club. A .338 hitter, Marmolejos achieved the minimum number of plate appearances during the final series of the season to be eligible for the Triple-A West batting title, which he won by four points. Most Valuable Player award voting was done with consideration of the 120-game championship season. While the 10-game "Triple-A Final Stretch" was an event separate from the standings used to determine the league title, individual player stats continued through all 130 games in 2021.

Marmolejos, an 11-year pro, first signed with the Washington Nationals in 2011 at age 18 and was named their Minor League Player of The Year back-to-back seasons, 2015 and 2016. Upon signing with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent for 2020, Marmolejos made his Major League debut on July 24, 2020, starting in left field at Houston. The left-hander has compiled 76 games of MLB experience with Seattle around his time in Tacoma.

He also led Tacoma with 75 RBI, led the league in on-base percentage (.439), slugging (.672) and OPS (1.111), while placing top 10 on the league leaderboard in home runs, RBI, walks (54) and total bases (197). Marmolejos was also selected as the designated hitter on the Triple-A West Postseason All-Star Team, and achieved Tacoma's first league batting title since Troy Neel of the 1992 Tacoma Tigers (PCL, Oakland A's).

Marmolejos also led all of the Minor Leagues (120 full-season MLB-affiliated teams) in OPS in 2021.

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