Reno Aces extend PDC with Diamondbacks to 2018

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.

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Baltimore Orioles Birds are Back Rally – April 30, 2016

Caleb Joseph and Al Bumbry Autographed Cards

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.

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Wilmington Blue Rocks and Potomac Nationals Autographs – April 24, 2016

001At 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.

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Wilmington Blue Rocks vs Potomac Nationals – April 24, 2016

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.

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Harrisburg Senators Autographs – April 17, 2016

Chris Michalak, Chris Bostick and Kevin Keyes Autographed Cards

Chris Michalak, Chris Bostick and Kevin Keyes Autographed Cards

Normally, when I try to get autographs before games, I generally find myself on the visitor side because most people at the game are trying to get autographs from the home team.  This wasn’t the case in the Reading-Harrisburg game I attended on Sunday.

Actually, my general strategy is to focus on the team that I have the most cards from, as it gives me the highest chance of autographs.  If I have the card of the pitching coach on one team, I’ll start there because he’s usually one of the first out.  The starting pitcher and catcher are also out early, but starting pitchers rarely sign prior to games in which they are pitching.

I only had one card between the six coaches of the two teams, Harrisburg Pitching Coach Chris Michalak.  I was able to get his autograph at this game.  But while I was on the Senators side, I noticed that there were many more people on the Reading side than the Harrisburg side.  I figure that there are a few main reasons for that.  Probably the biggest factor is that the Phillies have a number of highly rated prospects in their system, and at AA Reading specifically.  It is also not a far drive from Reading to Harrisburg, so on a nice day, a number of Reading fans will come to see their team in an away game.  The other factor would be that I believe that a majority of people in the Harrisburg area are Phillies fans.

The other two autographs I was able to get before the game were 2B Chris Bostick and OF Kevin Keyes.  Bostick is listed as the #30 prospect in the Nationals system.  It is always appreciated that they take some time out to sign a few autographs for the fans.

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Harrisburg Senators vs Reading Fightin Phils – April 17, 2016

I was able to get to a Harrisburg Senators game for the first time since 2007 today.  I was really looking forward to it because the starting pitcher for the Senators was the #1 prospect in all of minor league baseball, Lucas Giolito.  I was also anticipating seeing him go up against Reading SS J.P. Crawford, who is the #3 prospect in all of minor league baseball.  But as always, things don’t work out as planned.

Harrisburg Pitcher Lucas Giolito

Harrisburg Pitcher Lucas Giolito

I did get to see Giolito pitch and whenever I seem to see a star pitcher, they aren’t having their best day.  Today, Giolito didn’t make it out of the 4th inning, giving up 5 runs, although only 1 earned.

And Reading decided to give Crawford the day off, but at least I got to see him play last year.  The game finished as win by Reading, 14-2.  I know nobody cares, but I do need to mention that I noticed that the last game I attended involving Reading was a 14-2 victory by the visiting team.  Not a very common score, so that’s kind of odd.

Given that Crawford was out of the lineup, I was surprised that his replacement, K.C. Serna went 4-6 with 4 RBIs on the day.  So he’s definitely making the case to get some at bats since he went 3-4 in his previous start and is batting .533 for the season.  It’s also worth noting that his 4 RBIs came in 4 separate at bats.  Something else that doesn’t happen very often.  And for those keeping score (just me), in the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th innings, Reading 3B Harold Martinez scored a run, and K.C. Serna had an RBI.  I’m sure that streak would have continued into the 10th had we gotten there.

It was also my first opportunity to see Reading Catcher Jorge Alfaro play and he didn’t disappoint going 3-4 including a triple and 4 RBIs.  For Harrisburg, CF Rafael Bautista went 3-4 with a double and an RBI.

I’ll have to work on plans to see more games this year.  My main goal for this season is to see the Hartford Yard Goats in their inaugural year.  So we’ll see how that works out.

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Buffalo Bisons extend PDC with Blue Jays to 2018

The Buffalo Bisons have extended their player development contract with the Blue Jays to 2018.  The International League has been fairly stable recently with their affiliates and to me, the only possible change I can see is the Mets trying to go to Rochester.  I know they are unhappy with Las Vegas, but they can’t seem to get into the International League.  Since 2009, the only affiliate change in the International League was in 2013 when Buffalo went from a Mets affiliate to a Blue Jays affiliate.

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Stockton Ports extend PDC with A’s to 2020

The Stockton Ports have extended their player development contract with the A’s to 2020.  Prior to this announcement, none of the agreements with California League teams went beyond this season.  I do expect that most of the teams will remain where they are.  But the wild card is the discussion about two California League teams moving to the Carolina League.  The likely candidates would be Bakersfield and High Desert.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers and Astros would rather have Carolina League affiliates.

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Northwest Arkansas Naturals extend PDC with Royals to 2020

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals have extended their player development contract with the Royals to 2020.  I know teams on the west coast want to have their AA affiliate in the Texas League, but as there are only eight teams, a number get left out.  And of those eight, four of them are from the Texas and Missouri teams as they generally overlap the footprint.  One interesting rumor I recently saw was that San Antonio is going to make a push for a AAA team, with Colorado Springs likely being the team that moved there.  As a result, the Missions would move to Amarillo, TX.  I don’t know how likely this move would be, but it could end up that the Padres AA affiliate is in Amarillo, just as it was in 1982.  I always said that the minor league team movement is one big cycle where a market that loses a team often ends up with another eventually.  It would just be about 35 years for Amarillo.  And Colorado Springs may not be without a team as the Helena Brewers are rumored to complete the shift, as the two teams share common ownership.

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Richmond Flying Squirrels extend PDC with Giants to 2020

The Richmond Flying Squirrels have extended their player development contract with the Giants to 2020.  When the team moved to Richmond, it was with the plans of getting a new stadium.  That was in 2010 and they haven’t started work on a new stadium yet.  The team is threatening to leave Richmond after the 2017 season if a new stadium project isn’t started.

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