After several upsets and close votes, we’re moving on to the second round in the 2018 Best of the Ballparks fan vote for High-A MiLB ball, where we ask for your help in selecting the top ballpark in the California, Carolina and Florida State Leagues.
High-A voting is one of the most fascinating brackets, as you have a combination of spring-training ballparks and smaller, MiLB ballparks. Last year saw the two finalists — Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium and LECOM Park — also used as spring-training facilities and hosting Florida State League ball. However, since the voting began in 2015, three different ballparks have snared the High-A honors: Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium (2015), Winston-Salem’s BB&T Ballpark (2016) and Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in 2017.
The first round saw a few upsets, including The Hangar (Lake Elsinore Storm) over Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium (Palm Beach Cardinals and Jupiter Hammerheads), Osceola County Stadium 0ver Haley Toyota Stadium and First Data Field (St. Lucie Mets) over Jackie Robinson Ballpark (Daytona Tortugas). The top-three vote-getters in contested brackets: LECOM Park, Osceola County Stadium and First Data Field.
We know from marketing stats a third of our readers work in the baseball industry, so we’re tapping into that collective expertise. And we know from our research that a third of our readers sell to the baseball industry, so that expertise will be valuable as well. The remaining third — fans, media, government — will certainly have a different view on things as well. We can’t wait to see what our readers — whom we consider to be the smartest folks in baseball — say about the best of the ballparks.
Here’s our schedule for Best of the Ballparks 2018 vote:
MLB: Now-June 2
Class A and Class AA: May 29-June 19
Class AAA: June 14-July 6
Short Season A/Rookie: June 18-July 6
Independent: June 22-July 9
Summer Collegiate: July 2-22
We are running the contest with seeded brackets, so there will be plenty of action in coming days. Here’s a breakdown of the voting schedule:
First Round: Done
Second Round: June 3, 2 p.m. Central – June 7, 2 p.m. Central
Elite Eight: June 7, 2 p.m. Central – June 11, 2 p.m. Central
Final Four: June 11, 2 p.m. Central – June 15, 2 p.m. Central
Finals: June 15, 2 p.m. Central – June 19, 4 p.m. Central
Some things to note. First, you are allowed to vote multiple times, but you can only vote once per day. Second, you don’t need to fill out a full slate: partially filled votes will count. A running tally of the vote will be presented, and you can view the results to date in the brackets graphic at the bottom of this page.
Here’s our ranking of High-A ballparks, combining California League, Carolina League and Florida State League facilities. This was an extremely difficult list to seed and took plenty of thought and deliberation. Occupying the top spot is Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, home of the Lakeland Flying Tigers, the winner of the Best of the Ballparks 2017 voting. We honestly don’t expect the voting to follow our seedings: our readers can be independent, and they share a love of ballparks and the fan experience. There were several surprises in last year’s competition; we have already seen some this year.
Here are our rankings:
1. Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium (Lakeland Flying Tigers; FSL)
2. BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem Dash; CarL)
3. Hammond Stadium (Fort Myers Miracle; FSL)
4. George M. Steinbrenner Field (Tampa Tarpons; FSL)
5. LECOM Park (Bradenton Marauders; FSL)
6. Spectrum Field (Clearwater Threshers; FSL)
7. Frawley Stadium (Wilmington Blue Rocks; CarL)
8. Haley Toyota Field (Salem Red Sox; CarL)
9. Banner Island Ballpark (Stockton Ports; CalL)
10. Ticketreturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark (Myrtle Beach Pelicans; CarL)
11. Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark (Daytona Tortugas; FSL)
12. Rawhide Ballpark (Visalia Rawhide; CalL)
13. Charlotte Sports Park (Charlotte Stone Crabs; FSL)
14. Loanmart Field (Rancho Cucamonga Quakes; CalL)
15. John Thurman Field (Modesto Nuts; CalL)
16. Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium (Jupiter Hammerheads, Palm Beach Cardinals; FSL)
17. The Hangar (Lancaster Jethawks; CalL)
18. The Diamond (Lake Elsinore Storm; CalL)
19. Five County Stadium (Carolina Mudcats; CarL)
20. Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium (Frederick Keys; CarL)
21. Municipal Stadium (San Jose Giants; CalL)
22. First Data Field (St. Lucie Mets; FSL)
23. Grainger Stadium (Down East Wood Ducks; CarL)
24. San Manuel Stadium (Inland Empire 66ers; CalL)
25. Osceola County Stadium (Florida Fire Frogs; FSL)
26. Calvin Falwell Field (Lynchburg Hillcats; CarL)
27. Dunedin Stadium (Dunedin Blue Jays; FSL)
28. Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium (Potomac Nationals; CarL)
29. Jim Perry Stadium (Buies Creek Astros; CarL)
Note: only 29 ballparks are in play here, as the Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals share Roger Dean Stadium.