The South Bend Cubs have extended their player development contract with the Cubs to 2020. This was a new affiliation beginning last year, but it seems to be going well. Interestingly, now all Midwest League PDCs end in either 2016 or 2020. Since there are 11 that end this year, I think that you could see some movement at the end of the season.
The New Orleans Zephyrs have extended their player development contract with the Marlins to 2020. The Zephyrs also announced that they will be changing their name for the 2017 season and voting is currently in progress for that new name. With this announcement, there are now 8 teams that have their PDCs end this season. There are only a few that I could see changing though (Colorado Springs, Fresno, Las Vegas, Rochester). There has been talk about Colorado Springs relocating to San Antonio with the Missions then going to Amarillo, and if that is the case, I could see the Astros affiliating with Colorado Springs and then playing in San Antonio once the ballpark situation is in place. But that would only happen if they were to move in before the 2019 season, which currently seems plausible.
The Eugene Emeralds have extended their player development contract with the Cubs to 2018. This was a new affiliation last year and it’s a good sign that this renewal is coming at the beginning of the season since there are so many Short Season A PDCs that are expiring this year. It will also be interesting to see if any other major league teams make an attempt to gain a Short Season A team since there are only 22 for the 30 major league teams.
Dylan Bundy Autographed Card
Last Tuesday, I went to the Dylan Bundy signing at the Orioles Store at the York Galleria Mall. It was a good event with a decent turnout. Unlike other times that I went to signings at the Orioles Store, they were giving out tickets to people and said that they were guaranteeing 300 autographs. By the end of the event, they had a handful of tickets remaining, so just under 300 people came out to the event. I thought it was a good crowd considering it was lunchtime on a Tuesday. They were also giving away a number of door prizes, which was also a nice touch.
The Reno Aces have extended their player development contract with the Diamondbacks to 2018. At the AAA level, there are now 10 PDCs that expire at the end of the season. While I do expect most affiliations to remain intact, it would be interesting to see if some major league teams made a push for another affiliate. For instance, would the Astros prefer having their affiliate in El Paso rather than Fresno? Since the Rockies left Colorado Springs in 2014, you would have to think the Brewers would be considering other options. Although there is talk of Colorado Springs relocating to San Antonio in the future, where they would likely become the Rangers or Astros affiliate, so that could factor into what happens this year.
Caleb Joseph and Al Bumbry Autographed Cards
I went to the Orioles Birds are Back Rally in Westminster, MD on April 30. I try to go to this event each year since it’s not all that far from me and it’s a good opportunity to get an autograph from a current Oriole and an Orioles alum.
Previous years, it was held at the TownMall of Westminster, but this year it was at Westminster Island Green. This year’s event had about 200 people, mainly I suspect because it was rescheduled from April 9 (due to snow) and it was in the 50’s for this outdoor event, otherwise they could have had a bigger turnout.
Regardless, I thought it was good to get autographs from Orioles C Caleb Joseph and former Orioles OF Al Bumbry. They also give away a number of door prizes at this event, which makes it a little more fun for everybody.
At the game between the Blue Rocks and Nationals, I was able to get some autographs. I had cards of some of the Blue Rocks coaches as they had previously played in the major leagues. I was able to get an autograph from Manager Jamie Quirk and Hitting Coach Abraham Nunez. I have many Quirk cards, so that part was easy. But Nunez didn’t play until after I had stopped collecting cards when I was younger, so that one was tougher. He was a Blue Rocks coach last year also, so I was scanning eBay for a reasonably priced card and never came across one. The other thing that I had to watch out for was that around the same time, there was another player named Abraham Nunez in the majors. And I did witness last year the request of him to sign the card of the other player, to which he had to say that it wasn’t him. Anyway, I happened to see a card of the right Abraham Nunez come up cheap a few months ago, so I was able to get it before the season started since I saw that he would be coaching the Blue Rocks again this season.
I was also able to get an autograph from Nationals 3B Drew Ward at the game. I was hoping to make an autograph request prior to the game, but at the time the players were returning to the dugout from stretching, the elementary school kids that were singing the national anthem were lined up down the third base side between the players and the stands. But since the Nationals won the game in 12 innings, I didn’t think it was unreasonable to ask for an autograph as he was going between the dugout and clubhouse tunnel after the game. And he was nice enough to oblige.
I was able to see another Wilmington Blue Rocks game last Sunday. One of the most exciting things for me was that I was going to be able to the Royals #21 prospect RHP Pedro Fernandez. And unlike the last game I attended with high expectations on the prospect pitcher, this one delivered. Fernandez went 7 shutout innings giving up 4 hits and striking out 7 while issuing 2 walks.
The game went as many Blue Rocks home games do as there is never much offense in what is considered one of the ballparks that favors pitchers most in all of minor league baseball, although I still haven’t figured out why it is so extreme. I mentioned that Fernandez went 7 shutout innings, but Potomac starter Wirkin Estevez went 5 shutout innings of his own. The game was scoreless until the 8th when the Nationals got to the Blue Rocks bullpen and scored with a sacrifice fly. The Blue Rocks answered in the bottom of the 8th with an unearned run.
The game stayed that way until the 12th when the Nationals put up two and won the game, 3-1. The Blue Rocks managed just 4 hits in the 12 innings. While it may sound like a long game, it only lasted 3:16 and since it was a Sunday afternoon, it was nice to enjoy some extra baseball.