After a first round that saw several upsets, we’re on to the second round of Best of the Ballparks 2019 High-A voting. So you know what to do: vote!
We saw several departures from our seeds in this first round of voting, as fans chose City Stadium, Lynchburg Hillcats home, over George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa Tarpons home, and Excite Ballpark, San Jose Giants home, over Haley Toyota Field, Salem Red Sox home. All in all, it was a pretty good round for California League ballparks, with six of its eight ballparks advancing to the second round. The top vote-getters among contested brackets in this first round: Hammond Stadium, BB&T Ballpark, The Diamond, Five County Stadium and Excite Ballpark.
High-A voting is one of the most fascinating brackets, as you have a combination of spring-training ballparks and smaller, MiLB-specific ballparks. Last year LECOM Park won by a slim 28 vote margin over BB&T Ballpark. Since the voting began in 2015, four different ballparks have snared the High-A honors: Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium (2015), Winston-Salem’s BB&T Ballpark (2016), Lakeland’s Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium (2017) and Bradenton’s LECOM Park (2018). This year sees a strong new contender in the field: Segra Stadium, the new home of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Carolina League).
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 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. As winner of the 2018 vote, LECOM Park begins as the top seed, while other seeds reflect previous rankings and performance in the 2018 vote. New to this lineup: Segra Stadium, the new home of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers.
1. LECOM Park (Bradenton Marauders; FSL)
2. Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium (Lakeland Flying Tigers; FSL)
3. Segra Stadium (Fayetteville Woodpeckers; CarL)
4. BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem Dash; CarL)
5. Hammond Stadium (Fort Myers Miracle; FSL)
6. George M. Steinbrenner Field (Tampa Tarpons; FSL)
7. Spectrum Field (Clearwater Threshers; FSL)
8. Frawley Stadium (Wilmington Blue Rocks; CarL)
9. Haley Toyota Field (Salem Red Sox; CarL)
10. Ticketreturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark (Myrtle Beach Pelicans; CarL)
11. Banner Island Ballpark (Stockton Ports; CalL)
12. Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark (Daytona Tortugas; FSL)
13. Rawhide Ballpark (Visalia Rawhide; CalL)
14. Charlotte Sports Park (Charlotte Stone Crabs; FSL)
15. Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium (Jupiter Hammerheads, Palm Beach Cardinals; FSL)
16. Five County Stadium (Carolina Mudcats; CarL)
17. Loanmart Field (Rancho Cucamonga Quakes; CalL)
18. John Thurman Field (Modesto Nuts; CalL)
19. The Hangar (Lancaster Jethawks; CalL)
2o. First Data Field (St. Lucie Mets; FSL)
21. The Diamond (Lake Elsinore Storm; CalL)
22. Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium (Frederick Keys; CarL)
23. Osceola County Stadium (Florida Fire Frogs; FSL)
24. Excite Ballpark (San Jose Giants; CalL)
25. Grainger Stadium (Down East Wood Ducks; CarL)
26. San Manuel Stadium (Inland Empire 66ers; CalL)
27. City Stadium (Lynchburg Hillcats; CarL)
28. Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium (Potomac Nationals; CarL)
29. Dunedin Stadium (Dunedin Blue Jays; FSL)
Why is Dunedin Stadium in last place? Technically, it’s not open, as it’s undergoing renovations this season and the Dunedin Blue Jays are playing the home season partially at Jack Russell Stadium and partially on the road. Only 29 ballparks are in play here, as the Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinalsshare Roger Dean Stadium.
We are running the contest with seeded brackets, so there will be plenty of action in coming days. Here’s our schedule for the Best of the Ballparks 2019 High-A vote:
First Round: Completed
Second Round: Now through 6/1, 3 p.m. Central
Third Round: 6/1, 3 p.m. Central through 6/6, 3 p.m. Central
Semifinals Round: 6/6, 3 p.m. Central through 6/11, 3 p.m. Central
Finals: 6/11, 3 p.m. Central through end of day, June 16
Here’s our schedule for Best of the Ballparks 2019 vote:
MLB: Now-May 27
Low A: Now-June 9
High A: Now-June 16
Class AA: May 29-June 23
Class AAA: June 4-June 30
Short Season A/Rookie: June 14-July 9
Independent: June 10-July 7
Summer Collegiate: June 17-July 12
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 lineups will count. A running tally of the vote will be presented. Signing up for the Ballpark Digest newsletter means you’ll receive regular updates on the votes.