The 2019 Minor League Baseball season is finally here! In addition to all the hometown fun, here are some things to look for this year:
- Stars on the Rise: Bo Bichette, Carter Kieboom, and other MiLB stars are debuting in triple-A ball this year, after spending some time at MLB spring training this year. And let’s not forget about Victor Victor Mesa, who will debut in High-A this season. (And if anyone knows where little brother Victor Mesa, Jr., will be starting, let me know!)
- Teams Saying Goodbye: the Potomac Nationals, Mobile BayBears, and New Orleans BabyCakes are spending their last year in their current cities and will relocate in 2020 to Fredericksburg, VA; Madison, AL; and Wichita, KS; respectively.
- Minors and Milestones: A number of teams are celebrating anniversaries this year, including: the Louisville Bats and the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
- MiLB is Fun: The Copa de la Diversion returns this year with even more teams.
- All Stars: The Carolina League All-Star game will be held at one of my favorite minor league ballparks this year – Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick, Maryland.
- Buck Returns: Buck Britton returns to Bowie as the team’s new manager (at least the Orioles still have one Britton.)
Check out some of the changes for MiLB this year that I noted yesterday.
It’s gonna be a great season! Happy MiLB Opening Day!
Planned design of the Las Vegas Ballpark, scheduled to open this week (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Minor League Baseball returns tomorrow! Almost every year, it seems, there are changes to team names, affiliations, and even cities. Here is a quick rundown, by league (you may want to sit down for this because your head might be spinning by the end):
International League (AAA)
- The Syracuse team has changed its name and affiliation. Formerly known as the Syracuse Chiefs and affiliated with the Washington Nationals, they are now the Syracuse Mets, the AAA affiliate of – you guessed – the New York Mets (who are no longer affiliated with the Las Vegas 51s). (I wonder if there will be a name change in Syracuse’s future.)
Pacific Coast League (AAA)
- The Las Vegas 51’s have shed their previous name, ballpark, and affiliation. With the Mets now linked to Syracuse, the Oakland A’s have moved their AAA team to Las Vegas (from Nashville), which is now called the Las Vegas Aviators. The also play in a brand new park, Las Vegas Ballpark.
- Also related to that change in the International League, the Fresno Grizzlies are no longer affiliated with the Houston Astros, but with the Washington Nationals.
- The Houston Astros now have the Round Rock Express as their AAA team (which used to be affiliated with the Texas Rangers).
- The Texas Rangers’ AAA team is now the Nashville Sounds (which used to be affiliated with Oakland).
- The Colorado Springs Sky Sox have moved to San Antonio and are now the San Antonio Missions. (They are still affiliated with Milwaukee.)
Southern League (AA)
- The Chattanooga Lookouts have changed MLB parent teams – from Minnesota to Cincinnati.
- The Pensacola Blue Wahoos switched from Cincinnati to Minnesota.
Texas League (AA)
- The team formerly known as the San Antonio Missions has moved to Amarillo, TX, and is now known as the Amarillo Sod Poodles. (They are still the AA team of the San Diego Padres.)
Carolina League (A Advanced)
- The Buies Creek Astros have moved from Buies Creek, NC, to Fayetteville, NC, and are now the Fayetteville Woodpeckers (but still the Astros’ single-A team). The move has been in the works since the team moved from Bakersfield, California, to North Carolina.
Midwest League (A)
- The Clinton LumberKings switched MLB affiliates from Seattle to Miami.
South Atlantic League (A)
- The Greensboro Grasshoppers changed their MLB affiliate from Miami to Pittsburgh.
- The West Virginia Power are now affiliated with Seattle (a switch from Pittsburgh).
Pioneer League (Rookie Advanced)
- The Helena Brewers have moved from Helena, MT, to Colorado Springs, CO, and are now known as the Rocky Mountain Vibes. They’re still affiliated with Milwaukee and will play in Security Service Field, which was vacated by the team formerly known as the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. With a capacity of 8,500, they’ll have the largest stadium in the Pioneer League (the Ogden Raptors run a close second with their stadium, Lindquist Field, having a seating capacity of 8,262; the average for the league is 5,397.)
And let’s not forget there are rule changes, as well, for the 2019 season – and the new food options!
Now that we know all the changes, we’re ready for the season!
Yesterday, the Potomac Nationals overcame the Lynchburg Hillcats and a lot of rain to win the Carolina League Northern Division Championship and advance to the Mills Cup Championship Series. Check out the final out of yesterday’s game below:
Game 1 is tomorrow at Buies Creek. Congrats, P- Nats!
The Minor League Baseball playoffs are in full swing right now, though its not always easy to tell. In the Carolina League semi-final round, Lynchburg and Potomac are tied at one a piece as the series moves to Potomac tonight. There appears to be absolutely no video, however, of the two games they’ve already played in this series.
Fortunately, other leagues and teams have provided video and there are several games broadcast on MiLB.TV. Here are a few scenes from last night’s Eastern League game between the Trenton Thunder and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (New Hampshire leads the series 2-0):
Trash Panda (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Last week, the 10 finalists were announced in the contest to rename the Mobile BayBears once they move to Madison, Alabama, in 2020. One name is in honor of the nearby U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal which employs more than 40,000 people in the area: Army Ants.
Several names are related to the local space industry and NASA’s Marshal Space Flight Center: Comet Jockeys, Lunartics, Space Sloths, Space Chimps (a nod to Miss Baker, “one of the first animals safely launched into space. She is buried on the grounds at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center”), and Puffy Head Bird Legs (reportedly astronaut slang for “body fluid moving from feet to head in outer space due to the lack of gravity”).
The remaining options are related to local weather and animals (as well as a couple also being space-related): GloWorms, Moon Possums, ThunderSharks, and Trash Pandas (also known as racoons).
Voting is open now through August 16 at the future team’s website. Choose wisely, baseball fans. Choose wisely.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around this trade, but at least Baseball America has provided links to their stats (see below). Four of these guys have been assigned to the Bowie Baysox, so I’ll check them out this week and let know you how they do with their new team.
Interestingly, I’d recently seen all these guys, with the exception of Valera. I just didn’t know the importance of what I was seeing at the time. Yusniel Diaz hit two home runs in the All-Star Futures game on July 15, only the second player ever to do so. I was impressed, especially since I’ve been sort of keeping an eye on him since his defection from Cuba in 2015. I’d also seen Kremer, Bannon, and Pop back in June when I went to see the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes at the Lake Elsinore Storm. Dean Kremer started that game for the Quakes, the Dodgers’ high-A affiliate in the California League, and was the winning pitcher. Zach Pop came in in the ninth inning and got the save. Bannon went 1-for-5.
Little did I know at the time that soon they’d be Baysox…