2025 Spartanburg Team Will Be Named Hub City Spartanburgers

The Down East Wood Ducks are moving to Spartanburg, SC for the 2025 season and the team will be known as the Hub City Spartanburgers.  I’m more of a traditionalist and not a big fan of the wacky names that minor league teams go with in order to sell more merchandise, but I’ve never liked when teams decide not to use the city name.  In this case, they are putting it into the nickname, and they will push the burger aspect of it significantly, but I knew there was no way they would use a traditional name like the Spartans that was used 100 years ago.

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Mississippi Braves Moving to Columbus, GA

The Mississippi Braves are moving to Columbus, GA for the 2025 season.  Golden Park in Columbus will be renovated and expanded to host minor league baseball again.  Columbus last hosted minor league baseball in 2008 prior to the team’s move to Bowling Green, TN.  This team will be a closer to Atlanta and supports the Braves goal of having all of their minor league teams within Georgia.

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Oklahoma City Dodgers Change Name to Oklahoma City Baseball Club

The Oklahoma City Dodgers will now be known as the Oklahoma City Baseball Club.  According to the team’s website, this is a temporary name while a new name is determined.  Since I doubt that they lost rights to the Dodgers name, I don’t see any benefit in having a temporary non-name for a season.  Even if they wanted to change the logo and uniforms, they could have done that without changing the name.  Or even if they changed the name to 89ers for a season since that is one of the team’s alternate uniforms, that would make more sense to me.

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Rome Braves Change Name to Rome Emporers

The Rome Braves have changed their name to the Rome Emperors.  I definitely prefer when minor league teams have their own identities and since the Braves no longer own the team, this isn’t a surprise.  I think the Emperors is a clever way to go as it’s a reference to Rome, Italy and they will have an emperor penguin as their mascot, so overall to me it’s a good choice.

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Down East Wood Ducks Moving to Spartanburg, SC

The Down East Wood Ducks have been sold and will be moving to Spartanburg, SC.  They will be building a new stadium with current plans to open in 2025.

There hasn’t been a franchise move since 2021, but it looks like things are starting to return to how they used to be where teams with stadiums in need of upgrades move to a new location with a new stadium being built for them.  With the new minor league baseball structure, there’s less need for major league teams to own their minor league affiliates, so the Rangers felt they could sell the team as they no longer needed to lock in a Carolina League spot and stay out of the California League as they did when they bought the team.

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Aberdeen IronBirds vs Hickory Crawdads – September 4, 2022

I was able to squeeze in another game Labor Day weekend by going to see the Aberdeen IronBirds.  Aberdeen pitchers held the Hickory bats to just 4 hits and racked up 12 strikeouts en route to a 4-2 victory.  IronBirds C Connor Pavolony went 2-3 with a 3-run home run and all 4 RBIs for Aberdeen.

The game featured the following prospects:
DH Evan Carter (Rangers #3) – 0-3, run, reached on error, HBP
2B Thomas Saggese (Rangers #20) – 2-3, RBI double, HBP
SP Dane Acker (Rangers #25) – Loss, 3 2/3 innings, 4 hits, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
RF Heston Kjerstad (Orioles #10) – 1-4, 2B
SS Frederick Bencosme (Orioles #28) – 1-3, BB, CS

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Philadelphia Phillies vs New York Mets – August 21, 2022

I had an opportunity to go to another Phillies game this year and this was definitely an exciting one.  Both the Phillies and Mets appear to be headed to the postseason, and this game had a pretty intense atmosphere.  Maybe it was the large number of Mets fans at the game since the Phillies fans still aren’t showing up the way they have in the past when the team was playing well, but it was still a good crowd.

The game started with the Phillies jumping on Mets starting pitcher Jose Butto, who was making his major league debut, as they went up 4-0 in the 1st.  The Mets came back with 4 runs of their own before the Phillies tacked on another 3 in the 4th, taking a 7-4 lead at that point.  They gave up the lead in the top of the 7th with a Mark Canha home run, making it 7-7.  Jean Segura hit a solo home run in the 8th making it 8-7.  But the top of the 9th featured another Canha home run, and while the Phillies managed a run in the bottom of the 9th, they ended up losing to the Mets, 10-9.

Another interesting item is that there were two other pitchers making their debuts in this game, Nate Fisher for the Mets and Tyler Cyr for the Phillies.  Fisher’s story got some publicity as he was recently working in a bank thinking his baseball career was over, but finally made his major league debut.  Cyr made his debut at 29, so he was also a good story after finally making it after 7 years in the minors.  Unfortunately for both, they were each designated for assignment the following day and may end their major league careers with just one appearance in the majors.

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Fredericksburg Nationals vs Delmarva Shorebirds – July 3, 2022

I made it to stadium #126 yesterday seeing the new Fredericksburg Nationals stadium.  The game was similar to the last where it was a pitching duel at the beginning, but then the runs started towards the end.  The Shorebirds scored 2 in the top of the first, but that was all they were able to muster against Nationals 2019 1st round pick Jackson Rutledge.  Shorebirds SP Juan De Los Santos shut the Nationals down while he was in there with 5 strikeouts, but was removed after going through the lineup once.  The Nationals scored one in the 4th and took the lead in the 7th on a two-run home run by RF Andry Arias.  In the 8th, the Nats put up 6 more featuring the second home run by 2B Viandel Pena, for a 10-2 final score and sweep of the 6 game series.  The Shorebirds stole 5 bases in the game, but weren’t able to turn any of those into runs.

The game featured the following prospects:
DH Anthony Servideo (Orioles #30) – 0-4
SP Jackson Rutledge (Nationals #4) – 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 7 K
CF Jeremy De La Rosa (Nationals #13) – 0-5
LF T.J. White (Nationals #26) – 1-4
SS Yoander Rivero (Nationals #28) – 1-4, 3B, run, walk

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Somerset Patriots vs Hartford Yard Goats – June 26, 2022

As far as minor league games go, this was one of the most critical and exciting games that I’m sure I’ll ever attend.  Somerset and Hartford were tied for first-place in the Eastern League Northeast Division and the winner of this game would be the first-half champion, as this was the last game of the half.  It was a hot day in the stadium, as the temperature was in the 90’s for most of the game, and an exciting pitching matchup as two top 30 prospects faced each other (Hartford’s Noah Davis and Somerset’s Luis Medina).

The game was a pitching duel through 6 1/2 innings.  Davis gave up 3 singles and no runs for the Yard Goats and Medina gave up a single and no runs through 6 innings for the Patriots, with Aroldis Chapman making a rehab appearance pitching a perfect 7th.  After that, the Patriots broke through with a 4 run inning capped off by a bases loaded double by LF Elijah Dunham.  However, the Yard Goats answered with 4 in the top of the 8th which started with an error and ended with a two-run double by LF Jimmy Herron.

And then as most games seem to go when there is uncomfortable weather, the game was tied after 9 and the fans were treated to bonus baseball.  In the top of the 10th, the Yard Goats plated a run on a fielder’s choice to take the one-run lead.  But in the bottom of the 10th, Yankees top prospect, SS Anthony Volpe hit a two-run homer to win the game for the Patriots.  Definitely a fitting end to a penultimate game.

This was also a Copa de la Diversion game where the Patriots played as Zorros de Somerset with special orange jerseys.  This was also my first visit to see the Somerset Patriots and marks stadium #125 for me.

The game featured the following prospects:
SS Ezequiel Tovar (Rockies #3) – 0-5, RBI fielder’s choice
CF Brenton Doyle (Rockies #7) – 0-4, run, reached on error
1B Michael Toglia (Rockies #8) – 0-3, walk
3B Aaron Schunk (Rockies #19) – 0-4
SP Noah Davis (Rockies #25) – 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 7 K
RP Gavin Hollowell (Rockies #26) – L, 0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 HR
SS Anthony Volpe (Yankees #1) – 1-4, 2R, 3 RBI, walk-off 2-run HR
SP Luis Medina (Yankees #11) – 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 K
CF Brandon Lockridge (Yankees #17) – 0-4
DH Josh Breaux (Yankees #25) – 0-4
LF Elijah Dunham (Yankees #26) – 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI

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Wilmington Blue Rocks vs Aberdeen IronBirds – May 29, 2022

For my first minor league game of the year, I saw my closest team, the Blue Rocks.  I actually hadn’t been since 2018, but not much has changed at Frawley Stadium.  The game featured 13 walks, including 9 issued by the Blue Rocks pitchers, but the game still only took 2:39.  And that also includes 13 strikeouts.  For the IronBirds, Connor Norby and Darell Hernaiz, each had two hits.  Blue Rocks LF Gage Canning went 2-4 with an RBI single and two-run home run.  Blue Rocks RP Jose Ferrar also made his High A debut in this game.  Final score was IronBirds 6, Blue Rocks 4.

The game featured the following prospects:
LF Colton Cowser (Orioles #4) – 0-2, 3 walks
DH Connor Norby (Orioles #11) – 2-4, 2 runs, walk, SB
3B Darell Hernaiz (Orioles #30) – 2-4, RBI, run, walk, 6th game at High A
C Israel Pineda (Nationals #24) – 1-4, RBI double, reached on error
CF Ricardo Mendez (Nationals #25) – 0-5, reached on error
SS Jordy Barley (Nationals #27) – 0-4

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