Monday, April 22, 2013

Snappers Start New Chapter as A's Affiliate

All photos of Snappers Home Opener available on Flickr.

Following last season, there was a mass reshuffling of minor league affiliations, on all levels.  Typically an affiliate contract will run for 2 or 4 years, and a lot of them coincidentally happened to be expiring in the same offseason.  Teams will change affiliates for a number of reasons: proximity to major league club, quality of facilities, and opportunities for club ownership, to name a few.  All three of these were certainly the case when the Brewers decided to get out of West Virginia a few years ago and move two hours away from Milwaukee into a newly renovated ballpark in Appleton (see previous post).  The Twins made it known early in 2012 that they were interested in leaving Beloit and were one of the first teams to announce a move, signing a deal with Cedar Rapids and thus setting the Low-A affiliate dance in motion.  The Twins had spent 8 years in Beloit, and supplanted the Angels in Cedar Rapids who had been there for 20 seasons.  Beloit has one of the smallest markets and most sub-standard ballparks in the minors, and the worst unemployment rate in the state, so as you would expect there seems to be talk every year about building a new facility or relocating the team.  Until that happens, the Snappers were basically just left to the last parent club left standing.  That unfortunate honor went to the Oakland Athletics.

In Milwaukee and Madison, fans have come to expect and become spoiled by annual ballpark improvements, but Beloit makes a name for itself with never-wavering consistency.  As sure as the sun rises in the east, you can expect an April ballgame in Beloit to be under 40Âș, have the worst PA guy in baseball history, Snappy D. Turtle to be entertaining the dozens in attendance, and perhaps most notably, absolutely nothing noticeably new at the ballpark.  The city did put a little bit of money into re-sodding the field and fixing the scoreboard this year, which have been the only improvements I remember at the ballpark since they added seatbacks to the benches behind home plate - which are now falling off, by the way.  The city just seems content with things as they are until there is pressure from outside sources to move the team, which makes sense given Beloit's economy, but is unfortunate for baseball fans and for the area.  Ballpark and demographic issues aside, I'm always eager to check out the young talent for the Snappers, and that along with the dirt cheap prices is what keeps me coming back despite all my complaining.  I was already very fortunate to see Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano play for Snappy in their last year with the Twins.  Sano in particular is a highly touted prospect who led the Midwest League in homers and RBI and looks like he's going to be a stud.  The A's are another organization, like the Twins, that are generally regarded as having a perenially loaded farm system and I'm very excited to get to a few more games down there this season (assuming spring eventually arrives in Wisconsin).  Two of the A's top 10 prospects according to Baseball America (1B Matt Olson and 2B Chris Bostick) are on the Snappers roster this year, and a couple other players I saw at the home opener looked pretty good - P Michael Ynoa and 1B John Wooten. Olson I believe DH'd the game I went to and looks to need a lot of work on the mental side of the game but definitely has the skills to make it.  I sincerely hope that a new affliation with the A's sparks the attendance figures a little bit and gets people excited about baseball in Beloit, even though Oakland is a lot further away than Minnesota.

Brewers 9-8 (3 @ Padres, 3 @ Dodgers)
Reds 11-8 (3 v. Cubs, 4 @ Nationals)
Twins 8-7 (2 v. Marlins, 4 v. Rangers)

Erik - 3
Peter - 5

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