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Yankees' Balkovec becomes 1st woman to manage MLB farm team

She'll manage the Tampa Tarpons, the Low A minor league team in the New York Yankees organization.

TAMPA, Fla. — One New York Yankees coach is making history — and she's doing it right here in Tampa.

Rachel Balkovec became the first woman hired to manage a minor league affiliate of a Major League Baseball team when she was promoted by the New York Yankees to dugout boss of the Low-A affiliate Tampa Tarpons. This makes her the first full-time female manager in the history of affiliated baseball.

The 34-year-old joined the Yankees organization as a hitting coach in 2019 when she became the first woman in the league to hold that job full-time.

She got her first position in pro ball with the St. Louis Cardinals as a minor league strength and conditioning coach in 2012. Balkovec moved from the Cardinals to the Houston Astros in 2016.

The coach received her bachelor's degree in kinesiology and exercise science from the University of New Mexico, where she was a catcher on the softball team, according to the Tampa Tarpons. She went on to earn her master’s degree in sports administration from Louisiana State University, where she served as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach.

“I view my path as an advantage,” she told The Associated Press in 2019. “I had to do probably much more than maybe a male counterpart, but I like that because I’m so much more prepared for the challenges that I might encounter.”  

CBS Sports reports Balkovec spent last season coaching in the Florida Complex League and was later rewarded with a spot on the Futures Game, which is an annual staple at the MLB All-Star game. 

The Tampa Tarpons are the Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees and play at the iconic George M. Steinbrenner Field. The location also serves as the Yankees' spring training site. 

According to MiLB.com, the Tarpons lead its division in the 2021 season with 73 wins and 41 losses and clinched a playoff spot. 

10 Tampa Bay's Andrea Chu and Claire Farrow contributed to this report.

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