I was finally able to get to my first game of 2021 to see what the post-pandemic minor league baseball experience felt like. I looked at the IronBirds website ahead of the game and it’s still a little out of date, unless they just aren’t enforcing their guidelines since it still indicates that people should wear masks unless they are in their seats. They also said that there were no autographs permitted, but I did see a number of players signing autographs ahead of the game (note to self for next game). They also mentioned that there could be nobody on the field except for the teams and umpires, which was the case. So this meant no national anthem singer, no on-field contests between innings, and no batboys. Not having batboys took a little getting used to since you are seeing players pick up their own bats and each team had a dedicated player in that role who would pick up the foul balls on their side and the IronBirds had someone bringing out fresh baseballs to the umpire. They did still have a handful of promotions and tried to do something for the fans between the half-innings, but it was definitely a watered down version of what they had previously.
The pitching matchup was Darius Vines for Rome, who was making his High A debut, and Connor Gillispie, who had a 5.91 ERA coming into the game. Both pitchers looked good for most of the game, with the main struggle being the third inning for Vines. After getting two outs, the first runner of the game reached on an error. Then following a single and walk, he gave up a grand slam to 3B Jordan Westburg. Gillispie scattered three hits and a walk pitching five shutout innings for the win and Ryan Conroy pitched the final four scoreless innings for the save, giving the IronBirds a 5-0 win.
The game featured the following prospects:
CF Michael Harris (Braves #9) – 0-4, reached on error, SB, CS
DH Bryce Ball (Braves #12) – 0-4
RF Jesse Franklin (Braves #15) – 0-3, BB
C Logan Brown (Braves #24) – 1-4, single, ended game with GIDP
SS Gunnar Henderson (Orioles #5) – 0-3, hitless in 10 AB since promotion to High A
3B Jordan Westburg (Orioles #6) – 1-3, grand slam
CF Adam Hall (Orioles #11) – 1-4, RBI single