The last season for the Kinston Indians (High Class A; Carolina League) — this iteration, at least — will linger on through the weekend, as the team is competing in the league’s Mills Cup Championship Series.
The team was sold in the last offseason to Steve Bryant and crew, who will move the franchise to Zebulon, N.C. to replace the Carolina Mudcats (Class AA; Southern League) at Five County Stadium. The Mudcats will be on the move this offseason, playing as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos next year.
The good news is that the team will be staying in North Carolina, leaving two Carolina teams in the Carolina League. The bad news is that it’s looking unlikely there will be an affiliated team playing at Grainger Stadium next season now that the Frederick Keys ownership is poised to sign a 10-year lease for Harry Grove Stadium. Cam McRae, the K-Tribe owner, has been working on bringing in a replacement, but so far it looks like the only options for 2012 are letting the ballpark go dark or bringing in a summer-collegiate team, say, from the Coastal Plain League.
Grainger Stadium is one of those great classic venues you associate with Minor League Baseball, so we’re all a little verklempt over the prospect of the ballpark going dark. And we keep hearing there’s still the potential of a Cal-Carolina League shift down the line, though that will depend on new-ballpark developments in Chico and Bakersfield. (In other words, don’t look for a shift in 2012.) So, if you’re in the area, be sure to take in one of this weekend’s game; it may be your last chance for affiliated ball until 2013 at the earliest.
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