Orioles extend PDC with all affiliates to 2020

The Baltimore Orioles have extended their player development contract with all of their affiliates to 2020.  This includes the Norfolk Tides (AAA), Bowie Baysox (AA), Frederick Keys (High A), Delmarva Shorebirds (Low A) and Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season A).  This is not unexpected because all of the affiliates are so close to Baltimore and this also prevents the Nationals from making a push to have Norfolk as their AAA affiliate.  Syracuse will become a Mets affiliate next year and the Nationals only options to remain in the International League now are Rochester and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.


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Billings Mustangs extend PDC with Reds to 2020

The Billings Mustangs have extended their player development contract with the Reds to 2020.  The Mustangs have been a Reds affiliate since 1974, which ties them with the Elizabethton Twins for the 4th longest affiliation with the same team behind Reading (1967), Lakeland (1967) and Pawtucket (1973).  While I don’t see any of those affiliations breaking, there is a possibility that the Pawtucket franchise relocates to Worcester as they are discussing new stadium plans.


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Philadelphia Phillies vs St. Louis Cardinals – June 20, 2018

I was able to see my first Phillies game of the year recently.  I wanted to keep my streak going of seeing at least one Phillies game each season since they started playing in Citizens Bank Park and this was a good opportunity.  I was excited to see the pitching matchup of Jake Arrieta vs Michael Wacha as well, as I had never seen either them pitch in person.

The Phillies had been playing better than anticipated this season, so I was expecting a good game as the Cardinals always seem to have a good team.  Despite two home runs by Yadier Molina, the Phillies won 4-3 as Odubel Herrera continued his home run streak breaking the tie with a 7th inning home run.  Wacha left in the 4th inning with an injury, and for some reason seeing starting pitchers leave with injuries isn’t that uncommon for me at Phillies games.  Arrieta went six innings but didn’t have a dominant performance and since the Phillies took the lead in the bottom of the 7th, he didn’t pick up the win.  I also saw Mitch Walding continue his unfortunate streak as he picked his 7th strikeout in his 7th career at bat.

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West Virginia Black Bears extend PDC with Pirates to 2020

The West Virginia Black Bears have extended their player development contract with the Pirates to 2020.  This team is so close to Pittsburgh that there really wasn’t any chance of it changing affiliations.


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Fort Wayne TinCaps extend PDC with Padres to 2020

The Fort Wayne TinCaps have extended their player development contract with the Padres to 2020.  The TinCaps have been a Padres affiliate since 1999.  There are still a number of teams at the Low A level that have expiring contracts at the end of this season, but there weren’t any changes after the 2016 season, so we’ll see if there is any movement for this cycle.


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Orem Owlz moving to Pueblo, CO for 2020 season

The Orem Owlz are moving to Pueblo, CO with the plan of relocating for the 2020 season.  The intention to move was announced, but the official approvals are still required along with a plan to build a new stadium.  The Orem ballpark, now known as UCCU Ballpark, opened in 2005, but the Owlz have been third from the bottom in attendance for the last few years.  And the Helena Brewers, who were last, are moving to Colorado Springs next year.  I was also disappointed to hear that they intend to maintain the Owlz name because I was hoping they would eliminate the misspelled name with no reason for a ‘z’ at the end.

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Autographs from Hartford – Altoona Game – June 3, 2018

I was able to get some Yard Goats autographs at the game I attended two weeks ago.  I decided that since I had more cards of the Hartford players that I would hang out on that side of the field.  They were staging the pregame on-field groups in that same area right next to the Yard Goats dugout and I was starting to get concerned that I was going to get shut out at the game.  As the players came out on to the field, Nelson Molina signed some autographs, but none of the other players came by, not that it was all that easy because of all of the other people on the field in that area.  But as the players came off of the field, Brian Mundell and Brendan Rodgers also signed autographs.  Many people started swarming Brendan Rodgers when he came over, since he is the Rockies top prospect, but it’s great to see his willingness to engage with the fans and sign some autographs.

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Auburn Doubledays extend PDC with Nationals to 2020

The Auburn Doubledays have extended their player development contract with the Nationals to 2020.  This surprised me a little bit just because the Nationals will no longer have their AAA affiliate in Syracuse.  So I would think that they may explore another option like State College, which is a little closer for their fans, since their personnel wouldn’t have the two affiliates so close together any longer.  But if they are happy with the current arrangement, they should continue it.


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Hartford Yard Goats vs Altoona Curve – June 3, 2018

I made it to my 120th stadium with my visit to Dunkin’ Donuts Park, home of the Hartford Yard Goats.  I was able to attend a Sunday afternoon game as a day trip from here in the Philadelphia area.  It’s nice to see a brand new ballpark and they did a good job with this one.  One interesting feature that I noticed is that they have two levels of seating in right field, and the yellow line to signify where a home run needs to be is at the beginning of the second level.  The first level is behind netting, but any ball that hits the netting is in play.  They also have a pen where live goats are kept which is used as a mini petting zoo, which I thought was a nice touch.

I bought a ticket ahead of time because I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity to get to a Yard Goats game.  And even though there were only about 10 non-standing room tickets available when I got mine, I was able to get a pretty good seat between the two dugouts.  They were also kind enough to let me go up to the suite level to take some pictures of the stadium from behind home plate.

The game itself was pretty good as well.  I’m not sure why I’m seeing so much offense this year as the winning team scored at least 8 runs in the three games I’ve attended so far.  The Yard Goats beat the Altoona Curve by a score of 8-5 without any home runs being hit.  So there was a good amount of offense at the game.  The Curve were down 8-1 before starting their comeback, but they couldn’t complete it despite having their cleanup hitter, 1B Will Craig, at the plate as the tying run in the top of the 8th.

I was excited to see the Rockies top prospect, 2B Brendan Rodgers, play, but he ended up getting hit by a pitch in both the 1st and 2nd innings and finished 0-3.  I was also impressed to see the Yard Goats cleanup hitter, 6-5 225 lb RF Sam Hilliard steal both 2nd and 3rd base in the same inning, and was surprised by his overall speed given his career stolen base totals.  3B Ryan Metzler had the best hitting performance of the team going 3-4 with a double and 2 RBIs.

The Curve had two of their top prospects at the top of their lineup for the game, and they each had mutliple hits.  SS Cole Tucker matched Metzler’s stat line and added a walk to it.  3B Ke’Bryan Hayes went 2-4 with an RBI double.

I’ve always been a bit of a traditionalist with baseball and been in favor of having pitchers hit since it creates some extra strategy within the game beyond what the designated hitter provides.  But after seeing Altoona pitcher Pedro Vasquez in the batter’s box, I might change my mind.  He was struggling quite a bit and seemed to be taking the approach of taking pitches until he absolutely had to do something.  Professionally, he’s only had to bat this season and he is 0 for 5 with a walk and two strikeouts.

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Reno Aces extend PDC with Diamondbacks to 2020

The Reno Aces have extended their player development contract with the Diamondbacks to 2020.  They have been a Diamondbacks affiliate since they relocated from Tucson in 2009.  There will definitely be some movement at the AAA level at the end of the season as the Mets will be going to Syracuse, so it will be interesting to see what chain reaction that puts into effect.


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