Winning championships never gets old at any level of competition, as the excited Thursday night tweets coming from numerous Birmingham players would illustrate. But the ultimate goal for top Minor League talent is to reach the Majors, so team success and individual development need to form a symbiotic relationship.
"Absolutely, it's all about the development and getting these kids ready for the next level or big leagues," said Birmingham manager Julio Vinas, a rising managerial prospect in his own right. "We've had a couple of our kids gets [to the White Sox], which is great. All the other players see that, which brings excitement."
"In the Minors, winning obviously means you are doing something right; they go together," White Sox reliever Jake Petricka said. "You can do well [individually], but if you keep losing, you are always going to feel bad. The winning definitely helps."
Petricka joins a group including Marcus Semien, Daniel Webb, Miguel Gonzalez and Erik Johnson who have spent time with Birmingham this year but currently play for the White Sox. They are happy for their former teammates and sensed this team would be good because many from this same group found success with Class A Winston-Salem in 2012.
Playing in the Majors tops playing in the Minors, but winning along the way makes the journey that much better and helps in the development process.
"It's never fun if you are not winning," Semien said. "Luckily for the past two years, in High A and Double-A, I was on some teams that were winning games and clinching playoffs and stuff like that. We had a good group there."
"One thing you notice playing with Marcus and Erik is they take the approach to help the team win, and then everything else takes care of itself," said Birmingham outfielder Trayce Thompson, who homered and drove in three Thursday. "Everyone wants to make it to the big leagues, but it's always about the team win."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.