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!
Spencer Kieboom with the Washington Nationals in 2018 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
As the Minor League Baseball season is about to begin, we have another brother team to watch this season. Brothers Spencer and Carter Kieboom are both in the minors for the Washington Nationals: Spencer in Harrisburg, Carter in Fresno. Recently, the Washington Post wrote a great piece about the brothers and their baseball family.
We’ve been hearing about Spencer, 28, since 2012 when the Nats selected him in the 5th round of that year’s MLB Amateur Draft. Spencer spent half of 2017 and one month in 2018 with then then-AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals, the Syracuse Chiefs. On May 19, 2018, we was called up to the Washington Nationals, where he played 52 games, hit 13 home runs and had a .232 batting average. Carter, 21, was drafted by the Nationals in the first round of the 2016 draft. Last year, he spent the first half of the season with the single-A Potomac Nationals before being promoted to the double-A Harrisburg Senators.
Lest we worry that Spencer is regressing by being sent to double-A this year, MASN Sports reported that several players (including Spencer, Joe Ross, and Erick Fedde) are starting the season in Harrisburg because “the organization wants to keep a few experienced players closer to Washington in case a last-minute call-up is needed.” Hopefully this will be the case. The Bowie Baysox open their season at Harrisburg this week, and then host Harrisburg for their home opener on April 11. So, we should at least get to see Spencer in action soon.
Five County Stadium in 2014 (photo by James Willamor, via Wikipedia)
The first half of the Carolina League season isn’t over until Sunday, but the first-half winners have already been determined. On Thursday, both the Potomac Nationals and the Winston-Salem Dash won their respective games, making them the Carolina League’s North Division and South Division first-half champions. The division winners of each half of the season qualify for the playoffs at the end of the season.
Six P-Nats players have been named to the All-Star roster: Tyler Mapes (P), Sterling Sharp (P), Wil Crowe (P), Tres Barrera (C), Carter Kieboom (SS), and Jake Noll (3B). Kieboom, who is the brother of Spencer Kieboom (who was recently promoted to the Washington Nationals), ranks ninth in the Carolina League in batting average, hitting .296. He also ranks third in home runs (10), second in RBIs (43), third in hits (67), second in runs scored (46), and third in walks (34).
The 2018 Carolina All-Star Game will be played on June 19 at Five County Stadium (in Zebulon, NC), home of the Carolina Mudcats. You can find more Carolina League stats on the MiLB website.