This week marks the halfway point for several minor leagues, meaning attention can now be turned to All-Star Games. While these mid-season contests showcase the best prospects around baseball, they can also serve to highlight some of the notable ballparks around Minor League Baseball.
Over the weekend, the Florida State League started this summer’s slate of All-Star festivities in style with an impressive showing at Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sports Complex, home of the Fort Myers Miracle. More than 5,000 fans turned out to Saturday’s game, which saw the visiting FSL North All-Stars walk away with a narrow 1-0 victory. That highlighted a day of events that included a pre-game home run derby, and a post-game fireworks show.
With that game in the books, the baseball world can turn its attention to the upcoming All-Star Games, including three this week and another the following week. Here is a roundup of these June events.
Carolina League vs. California League
Location: The Diamond, Lake Elsinore Storm Date: 6/21/2016
The annual showdown between these two High-A circuits has attracted significant attention for months, thanks in part to its unique home run derby. Back in April, the Storm announced that this year’s derby will be known as the Midway Classic. Held on the deck of the USS Midway, the event is the result of a partnership between the Storm, the USS Midway Museum, and the Port of San Diego.
The home run derby will take place today, with the All-Star Game set to be hosted at The Diamond. Prior to the game, the Storm will host a two-hour fan fest that includes an autograph session and give fans the opportunity to watch both teams take batting practice. That event begins at 3:30, with the game scheduled for 6:30.
Low-A Midwest League
Location: Perfect Game Field, Cedar Rapids Kernals Date: 6/21/2016
This year, the All-Stars are heading to Cedar Rapids for a two-day long series of events that will conclude with Tuesday’s game. Fans can turn out to Perfect Game Field this afternoon for a fan fest that will feature free admission, giving attendees access to autograph sessions, family activities and more.
Tomorrow the Kernals will host a home run derby before the game begins at 6:35. A fireworks display will be featured following the game.
Low-A South Atlantic League
Location: Whitaker Bank Ballpark, Lexington Legends Date: 6/21/2016
The events for this All-Star break will kickoff tonight, when an All-Star Gala is hosted at Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza in downtown Lexington. As part of this event, the Legends are featuring Thompson Square for the first of two concerts that will take place. The next performance is set for tomorrow, when Halfway to Hazard plays prior to the game at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Along with the concerts, tomorrow’s pre-game festivities will include open batting practice sessions for both teams, autograph sessions, and the Legendary Derby skills competition. The game begins at 7:05, and will be immediately followed by a fireworks display.
Double-A Southern League
Location: Trustmark Park, Mississippi Braves Date: 6/21/2016
With the All-Star Game returning to Trustmark Park for the first time since 2007, the Braves are planning two days of events. Most of the action today will take place at the Jackson Convention Complex, which will host an All-Star VIP Reception and A Night with the All-Stars Gala.
Starting at 3:00 tomorrow afternoon, the festivities will shift to Trustmark Park, where fans will be able to partake in pre and post game parties. Prior to that evening’s 7:30 game, the Braves will host the Hit A Home Run For Special Olympics Governor’s Celebrity Softball Game. Starting at 5:00, that event will feature Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and several former Atlanta Braves, including Steve Avery, Marquis Grissom, Pete Smith, and Wes Helms. The pre-game cermonies will begin at 6:30, and will include a Special Forces Association Parachute Demonstration Team.
Double-A Texas League
Location: Hammons Field, Springfield Cardinals Date: 6/28/2016
Next week, the Texas League will have the All-Star slate to itself. Hammons Field will see plenty of action on June 28, as fans can partake in a variety of festivities.
Gates will open at 5:10 for the home run derby, which is scheduled to begin at 5:45. As part of the evening, the first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a commemorative coin. The game itself begins at 7:10, with officials from the MLB Authentication Program on hand to gather game-used memorabilia, which will be certified before being made available through an online auction. The evening will conclude with a fireworks show.
Of course, the minor league All-Star Games will not end with this slate. The Eastern League and two Triple-A circuits will host their respective events on July 13. In August, fans can look forward to a contest from the New York-Penn League, and a game that pits the Northwest League against the Pioneer League.