The Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) are making a notable change at The Diamond this offseason, moving in the fences to improve the environment for hitters.
Work is underway on a change to the dimensions at The Diamond, as the Flying Squirrels are moving in the outfield fences from left-center field to right-center field by about eight-to-10 feet. The Diamond has traditionally favored pitchers, thanks to relatively deep dimensions, but the Flying Squirrels are anticipating that moving in the fences–a change being made in consultation with Major League Baseball parent club the San Francisco Giants and Virginia Commonwealth University’s baseball program–will make the ballpark a bit more balanced.
The project is expected to be completed by the time VCU baseball begins conducting winter practices, and well ahead of the Flying Squirrels’ 2020 home opener on April 16. More from WTVR.com:
“This is a tough place to hit” said Todd “Parney” Parnell, the Squirrels Chief Operating Officer. “This will help the Giants from a player development aspect. It will make it a little more fair for the hitters while still keeping it a pitcher’s ballpark.”
The Diamond’s fences are 330 feet from home plate down each foul line. That extends to around 375 feet in what’s known as the “power alleys” in left and right center field, to 407 feet in straight away center. Those dimensions make it one of the biggest parks in all of minor league baseball, and the numbers prove it.
Over the last 10 seasons that the Squirrels have called the Diamond home, the park ranks last in runs per game, hits per game, and home runs per game. It’s also next to last in combined batting average.
“This will just make some of those long fly balls that die at the wall turn into doubles off the wall or home runs” Parnell explained. “I think that’s what the Giants were looking for for a whole variety of reasons.”
The Diamond originally opened in 1985 for the Richmond Braves (Class AAA; International League), and was home to that franchise until it relocated to Gwinnett County, GA prior to the 2009 season. The Flying Squirrels have played at the ballpark since 2010, their first season after moving from Norwich, CT.