Hey, hey everybody! It's my Opening Day!! Yep, time for the kiddos to get crankin'. Everybody's home for openers tonight except Frisco who returns home next Thursday, the 11th. It's been a long offseason and I'm really excited to watch a game in my native language. So grab your scorebooks, your handbooks, and your stopwatches, or your friends, your beer money and your designated driver (preferably one with a TollTag). Also, I highly, HIGHLY encourage using the team sites below for buying a lid or a t-shirt to support one, or several, of these squads. Your gear will show other Rangers fans that you're way more hardcore than they are, and the minor league stuff usually looks cooler than the big league stuff anyway.
I'll be writing pieces throughout the season and if there's any seriously notable performances, I'll jump on the main LSB site for that as well. If you really want to be bludgeoned with nightly updates, check my twitter feed www.twitter.com/tepidp. The biggest things to remember about minor league baseball: 1) have fun with it, and 2) remember to read between the lines. Baseball is serious business, minor league baseball kinda isn't. It's serious for the players and the teams and the personnel, but you'll have a hard time taking the game seriously when there's 3 grown men racing along the 3rd base line with an egg on a spoon in between innings. Have fun with it. Also, most parks do those races where you run around with your forehead on the knob of a baseball bat then try to run 30 feet---what's funnier than that?
As for reading between the lines, it's helpful to keep in mind not to focus solely on stats. That's the weird part of player development. For instance, Parks reminds me that despite Jorge Alfaro's rocket-arm, his "thrown-out %" wasn't all that great last year and a significant factor in that was how bad low-A pitchers are at holding runners. I watched Jorge catch 7 innings and 6 pitchers in a game last week against a big league roster. He threw a guy out, in part because Wilmer Font was getting to the plate very quickly, but I watched him block a bunch of pitches in the dirt with good footwork and occasionally stand up and direct the infielders or chat with the pitchers. Those things won't be in a box score, but they'll be in a scouting report. If Jordan Akins strikes out to end a game, but does so, looking, and on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, that's progress for him. In the box score, it's just "Akins: K(backwards). Game Over", but, hey, that might be improvement for a kid who previously swung at everything the moment it left the pitcher's hand.
I try to watch as much live minor league ball as I can. I frequent the Frisco games, and essentially watch all of them on MiLB.tv. The season subscription for 2013 is $39.99 and it is freakin' awesome. This year they've added Myrtle Beach games so now you can get Texas' AAA, AA, and High-A clubs for every home game. Do it. And I can't encourage you enough to check out minor league action whenever you get the chance. Sit on the lawn and let the kids run around, or sit behind home plate and chart pitches. Whatever. Always remember that no one ever gets old and says "I wish I'd have gone to less ball games with my family and friends."
As always, feel free to ask any questions about teams or your favorite prospects. Check the stats from time-to-time, and look for video highlights. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter and I'll tell you that, yes, Drew Robinson just drew another walk in Myrtle. Or Nomar Mazara just threw out a runner at the plate for Hickory, or Hanser Alberto has now hit safely in 9 straight games for Frisco, or it's Grimm tonight for Round Rock.
www.milb.com (they have an App this season as well as more clubs featuring the GameDay setup. I've downloaded the App and, frankly, I'm not super-impressed thus far, but what the hell, it's free.)
www.milb.tv (all the TEX affiliates this season--except Hickory. Boooo!)
http://www.my.calendars.net/farmprobs/ This is Shroom's amazingly awesome calendar. He's way more mysterious than me, and far more productive. Use the calendar often because it is completely badass.
www.lonestardugout.com I assume you all subscribe to Jason's site because if you've read this far, you're pretty into this. He knows more about the system than anyone not employed by the team. This isn't up for debate.
Again, I assume you all already follow Scott, but if you don't, stop being silly. He's a genius and a great dude. He's an Austin cat, who has watched a fair amount of less-than-enthralling ball over the last couple of years, so he's understandably psyched to go to a bunch of Round Rock games in 2013.
Hickory Crawdads (low-A):
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (high-A):
Frisco Rough Riders (AA):
Round Rock Express (AAA):
So there you have it! It's time for the minor league season to get underway. I know you're pumped to read about these prospects as they plunder their way through the perilous waters of player procession. It's incredibly hard. Most won't make it. But some will. Regardless of where your favorite prospect is (I'm thinking a bunch of you are rightfully ecstatic about this year's Hickory squad), remember to have fun with it. It's called "minor league" baseball for a reason, but not 'cause it's lackin' in good times!
Enjoy baseball! Love Ya!