Carolina League Season Preview

by OSC Special Edition
March 23, 2017 - Carolina League (CarL)

North and South Carolina are two of the most diverse and robust areas for minor league baseball in the U.S. The minor league landscape changed drastically in 2016 where the California league lost two of its teams; the Bakersfield Blaze (Mariners) and the High Desert Mavericks (Rangers) to the Carolina League.

2016 was a season filled with off-the-wall fun and creativity. With a few adjustments to the Carolina League, 2017 will kick off with same fun-filled energy.

This year represents a new start for the Carolina League as they welcome 10 teams. Grainger Stadium, in Kinston, N.C is where former team, the High Desert Mavericks, will be playing their home games. The 10th team is likely to play its home games in Fayetteville, N.C and will be affiliated with the Astros. Unless MiLB decides to scout someone else to host in both 2017 and 2018, the temporary home will likely fit two clubs for two seasons.

Six teams have rebranded following the success some teams had last year in their merchandise sales. New Orleans Zephyrs, Binghamton Mets, Island Yankees, High Desert Mavericks, Brevard County Manatees and Bakersfield Blaze will each play under new names are all teams in the MiLB playing under new names this season. The last three in that list are even playing in new locations.

The Grainger Stadium is doing its best to create the ultimate fan experience as they work with the city of Kinston to add a franchise. Keith Bodie will return as manager of the Frederick Keys and will be joined by by hitting coach Kyle Moore, Brian Guzman, Sean McGill and pitching coach Blaine Beatty. The Orioles minor league staff, Bodie, is entering his third season and has a 1291-1180 (.522) career record. Having developed several players such as Omar Vizquel, Craig Biggio, and Ryan Zimmerman, he is looking forward to acquiring the title this season.

Salem will host the 2017 Carolina All-Star Game, a 50 yearlong celebration for the Carolina League. With the new signees, Carolina League will regain its power on the pitching slope Pundits and Las Vegas do not present high hopes for Caroline league as contenders although officials believe incorporating the news players will benefit the league as emerging in a top position.

• Discuss this story on the Carolina League message board