Just over two years ago, Louis Boyd was sitting in a conference room at Nike’s corporate campus in Beaverton, Oregon, with his baseball career seemingly in the rear-view mirror.
On Tuesday, he became the youngest manager in the Northwest League.
The Seattle Mariners named Boyd, 25, the manager of the Everett AquaSox, handing him the keys to their Short season-A franchise just two years after he was selected by Seattle in the 2017 major-league draft.
Boyd replaces Jose Moreno, who mutually agreed to part ways with the Seattle organization last week.
“I’m extremely grateful. It’s always going to be important when you’re handing the keys to the clubhouse to someone, regardless of who they are,” Boyd said. “It’s important to make sure the guys are well taken care of and their development is put first.”
Boyd is the youngest manager in the NWL, taking that title from Eugene’s Lance Rymel, 29. Boyd is also 34 years younger than the league’s oldest manager, Vancouver’s Casey Candaele.
Boyd played against AquaSox center fielder Billy Cooke in the College World Series championship series in 2016 — Cooke’s Coastal Carolina squad topped Boyd’s Arizona team in the three-game series — and was in the same draft class as Everett outfielder DeAires Moses.
He isn’t worried about his age hindering his ability to manage.
“The age I think will totally be an advantage,” he said. “The last few days I’ve really been able to connect with the players. They don’t appear fearful or anything. The connections are super tight as well and I’m looking forward to forming as many relationships as I can with these guys, because that’s really when the development comes.”
How did this all come about?
It started on Day 3 of the 2017 major-league draft.
Boyd didn’t expect to be chosen. After two years at Cochise Community College in Douglas, Arizona, he played two seasons at the University of Arizona. He was a fixture in the Wildcats’ starting infield, hitting .251 with a .684 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) but wasn’t hearing much draft chatter.
With his baseball career apparently by the wayside, Boyd gave away all his gear and started a job at Nike as a sales analyst intern.
So, he was surprised when Mariners scout Amanda Hopkins called in the middle of a meeting — a rather important meeting, Boyd added. The Mariners had selected Boyd in the 24th round.
After the career-altering call, Boyd scrambled back to Arizona’s campus in Tucson, Arizona, grabbed some cleats that didn’t fit, some miscellaneous gloves and batting gloves laying around the baseball facility and trekked up to the Mariners’ spring-training complex in Peoria, Arizona, for mini-camp.
Over his two-year playing career, Boyd bounced around Seattle’s low minor-league affiliates, posting a .240/.310/.303 slash line with 22 doubles, two triples and two homers. Boyd played briefly for Everett in his professional debut season of 2017, hitting .250 with a .685 OPS in six games.
He was assigned to High-A Modesto to start the 2019 season, although he never took the field. Instead, manager Denny Hocking, a former big-league infielder for the Twins (1993-2003), Rockies (2004) and Royals (2005), allowed Boyd to serve as the Nuts’ infield coach. Together they developed an infield tracking system to help the Nuts’ infielders improve their fielding.
Coaching was always something in the back of Boyd’s mind, dating back to his college days.
“Especially when I got to the pros and got back to spring training (in 2018), for whatever reason I just gravitated toward it,” he said.
For the Mariners, it’s always been in the back of their minds, too.
“Ever since we drafted him out of U of A, we had our eye on Louis to move over to the other side of the diamond,” Mariners minor-league field coordinator Carson Vitale said. “His care for others, how he helps others around him, his attention to detail all attribute to him being a very thoughtful and caring person. That’s why he’s going to be a great coach.”
Boyd said he gets tremendous satisfaction from helping others excel on the baseball diamond.
“That’s something I always really tried to gain happiness from, to see other people succeed, to help others and totally give myself to others around me. … That’s absolutely everything to me,” Boyd said.
Boyd was driving with Hocking in Modesto, California, when the Mariners’ director of player development, Andy McKay, called to tell Boyd he was being named the manager in Everett. Boyd’s installation as skipper was delayed because of contractual and clerical issues, but he’s been in Everett since July 17, observing as Vitale served as the team’s acting manager.
Boyd, a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, grew up attending Vancouver Canadians games. He narrowly missed playing there during his brief stint with the AquaSox in 2017, so it’s only fitting his managerial career began Tuesday night at Nat Bailey Stadium.
“My dream was always to play in Nat Bailey,” Boyd said. “But now that I get to manage there, it still feels like a dream come true.”