Winning important, even at high Single-A Potomac, as players begin new season

The minor leagues' main focus is to prepare prospects for their eventual ascension to the majors, but teaching players how to win and playing on championship teams is also important.

New Potomac Nationals manager Brian Rupp said learning how to win is high on their list as minor league skippers groom prospects for their next step.

"Winning is right up there," Rupp said. "It is really important. When you get to the big leagues that is all they talk about. We start it down here. We are going to stress winning, no question about it. As far as a routine and everything, yes, that goes into it. Make no mistake about it, once they say, 'Play ball!' we are trying to win every game we can."

Rupp arrived this season after managing the Single-A Carolina League's Wilmington Blue Rocks for three seasons. He has coached at the minor league level for 11 years. And after a few weeks with his staff, Rupp believes he will have a good rapport with new pitching coach Chris Michalak and new hitting coach Marlon Anderson.

"We are going to get along great," Rupp said when asked about Michalak, who was the pitching coach in Single-A Hagerstown last season. "The transition will be easy for me. I worked with the same guy (Steve Luebber) for the last three years. Michalak is a lot like him. He is on top of things."

Rupp also likes what he sees so far in former major leaguer and Hagerstown hitting coach Anderson.

"Marlon is a very good game planner," Rupp said. "He gives the guys ideas of what pitchers are trying to do. The guy's will go up to home plate with a game plan every night."

The P-Nats open at home April 13, with a brand new field and a full-time groundskeeper at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Va.

"They did a great job getting the field done," Rupp said. "There were big upgrades in the clubhouse this year. The guys that are coming up and even those coming back (will see) a huge upgrade from last year."

Potomac begins on the road in Lynchburg this season - they lost their first game 9-3 - led by third baseman Anthony Rendon, the No. 6 overall selection from the 2011 draft.

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