The ribbon on the 2011 New York-Penn League season will be cut on Friday night, opening up the books on three more New England based Minor League teams. The Short-Season, Single-A league kicks off its 73rd season and the Connecticut Tigers, Lowell Spinners and Vermont Lake Monsters are gearing up and getting their rosters in order before Friday’s first pitch.
The Connecticut Tigers return for their second season of action after finishing only one half game out of first place in the Stedler Division in their inaugural season in Norwich. After moving the team from Oneonta, the organization declared that they would keep the Tigers moniker for only one season then they would turn it over to the fans for a vote, but after positive feedback from the masses, they have decided to keep the team name in tact. The Tigers return to Dodd Stadium for their home opener on Monday the 20th when they face off against the defending NYPL Champion Tri-City ValleyCats.
The Lowell Spinners celebrate their 16th season as the Boston Red Sox closest affiliate. The Spinners have announced their roster (which we will post soon), which includes some returning players such as Minors Moniker Madness runner-up outfielder Seth “The Hammer” Schwindenhammer and pitchers Madison Younginer and Hunter Cervenka. There are rumors of some rehabbing players who may hit up Lowell in the very near future, including Yamaico Navarro, Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Kalish. The Spinners host Connecticut for a three game series starting Friday night with a 7:05pm start time and 5:05pm starts on both Saturday and Sunday. Lowell’s LeLacheur Park also has the honors of hosting the New York Penn League All-Star game on Tuesday, August 16th.
The Vermont Lake Monsters start a new relationship in 2011 as they change affiliates from the Washington Nationals to the Oakland Athletics. The Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals affiliation lasted for 16 seasons but the organization moved their short-season affiliate down the road a bit to the Auburn (NY) Doubledays, allowing Oakland to slide in and take over the Lake Monsters. Historic Centennial Field, built in 1906, will play host to the Lake Monsters for the 17th straight season. The Lake Monsters first home opener as Oakland A’s affiliates will go down on Monday the 20th against Lowell.
Short Comings - The MLB first-year player draft went down recently and some local talent as well as some notable names and top talent were selected by the New England squads, making it possible that some of them could be on their way to the region for the rest of the summer. Here are some names to look out for from last week’s draft that could make an appearance with either of the three NYPL teams of New England during the season should they sign in time (Opening Day rosters will be announced over the coming day or two and we will list them all here once we get them in.):
Tigers – C James McCann – Arkansas (2nd round/76th pick); OF Aaron Westlake – Vanderbilt (3/106); LHP Brian Flynn – Wichita St. (7/227); OF Chad Wright – Kentucky (9/287); 2B Colin Kaline – Florida Southern (26/797)
Spinners – RHP Matt Barnes - UConn (1/19); OF Jackie Bradley – South Carolina (1s/40); RHP Brenden Shepard – Stonehill (28/862); RHP Corey Vogt – Keene St. (39/1192); 2B Matt Gedman – UMass (45/1372)
Lake Monsters – RHP Sonny Gray – Vanderbilt (1/18); 3B B.A. Vollmuth – Southern Miss. (3/105); OF – Dayton Alexander - Feather River (CA.) JC (6/196); 2B Shane Boras – USC (39/1186); RHP Max Perlman - Harvard (35/1066)
Moving On Up - Some of last year’s NYPL players have already moved on to bigger and better things. The Class-A South Atlantic League recently announced their All-Star teams and on Manny Machado), the Sally League All-Stars will also feature numerous 2010 NYPL alums that played for local squads. top of having the top 3 picks from the 2010 draft accounted for (Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon,
2010 NYPL Alums/2011 Sally League All-Stars
C David Freitas (Vermont) - Hagerstown
1B Miles Head (Lowell) - Greenville
LF Brandon Jacobs (Lowell) - Greenville
RHP Taylor Jordan (Vermont) - Hagerstown
3B Blake Kelso (Vermont) - Hagerstown
RHP Roman Mendez (Lowell) – Hickory
-LeLacheur Park is in Lowell, Massachusetts and is approximately 33 miles from Fenway.
-Dodd Stadium is in Norwich, Connecticut and is approximately 98 miles from Fenway.
-Centennial Field is in Burlington, VT and is approximately 217 miles from Fenway.