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Fans' guide to Minor League Opening Night

Storylines to follow as Double-A, High-A, Single-A start play
April 8, 2022

Minor League Baseball Opening Night is so nice, we’re having it twice. It started at the top, as all 30 Triple-A teams began their seasons Tuesday. Now three days later, Minor League Baseball’s remaining 90 teams get underway with Double-A, High-A and Single-A action. Every Opening Night is special, but

Minor League Baseball Opening Night is so nice, we’re having it twice.

It started at the top, as all 30 Triple-A teams began their seasons Tuesday. Now three days later, Minor League Baseball’s remaining 90 teams get underway with Double-A, High-A and Single-A action.

Every Opening Night is special, but 2022 has felt particularly so. After two COVID-affected years, this marks the first time since 2019 that Minor League Baseball is beginning the year on time and at full strength.

To get fans fully prepared for the start of the season, we’ve put together the following guide to Minor League Baseball Opening Night. But first, if you haven't already, let's make sure you’re caught up: First, read about the return of historical league names and their current composition, and then familiarize yourself with 2022’s slate of new rules (larger bases, anyone?)

Finally, make sure to download the MiLB First Pitch app, sign up for MiLB.TV and listen (and subscribe) to’s Show Before the Show podcast. Then you’ll be up to speed and ready to play ball!

April 8

Tampa @ Lakeland, 6:30 p.m.: Begin your Opening Night with some history as Rachel Balkovec takes to the dugout as manager of Single-A Tampa, becoming the first woman to manage a Minor League club on a full-time basis. Balkovec, whose background in pro ball goes back to 2012, most recently worked as a hitting coach for the Yankees’ Florida Complex League and will lead many of the same players as she takes over the Tarpons, chief among them, No. 3 Yankees prospect Jasson Dominguez.

Somerset @ Reading, 6:45 p.m.: No one was a bigger breakout prospect in 2021 than Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe, who ranked third in the Minors with 68 extra-base hits between Single-A and High-A. Now comes the 2019 first-rounder’s biggest test: Double-A. Volpe could be a plus overall hitter with 60-grade power, and it’s possible he could thrive right away in a hitter-friendly environment in Reading. The game, like all those at Double-A, will be streamed on MiLB.TV.

Aberdeen @ Jersey Shore, 7:05 p.m.: This is a game of firsts for both teams. The visiting Aberdeen IronBirds will take the field with new logos and uniforms, which feature a cartoonish anthropomorphic fighter jet. The home team, a Philadelphia affiliate formerly known as the Lakewood BlueClaws, adopted Jersey Shore as a geographical designation prior to last season. Their stadium is now similarly named, as it was rechristened ShoreTown Ballpark last month.

Binghamton @ Hartford, 7:05 p.m.: The Mets had their own version of the Brooklyn Big Three in 2021 with Francisco Álvarez, Brett Baty and Ronny Mauricio all playing the bulk of their seasons at Coney Island. All three have moved up to Double-A. Álvarez, in particular, will be making his debut at the level, while Baty and Mauricio return after seeing separate stints with the Rumble Ponies late last season. The trio possesses at least plus power potential, and after playing at a pitcher-friendly park in Brooklyn, it wouldn’t shock to see them put up much better slugging numbers this summer. Lefty Baty and the switch-hitting Mauricio could start by aiming for Hartford’s short porch in right on Opening Night.

Beloit @ Cedar Rapids, 7:35 p.m: This past August, the Beloit Snappers moved from their longtime home of Pohlman Field to brand-new ABC Supply Stadium. The franchise’s evolution continued over the offseason and was rebranded as the Sky Carp. Sky Carp is a slang term for a goose. In the primary logo, the goose wears a scarf and carries a wrench. This denotes his full-time status as a hard-working resident of Beloit, with no plans to migrate anywhere else. The Sky Carp era begins on the road, with the High-A Miami affiliate taking on the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Eugene @ Everett, 10:05 p.m.: End your night, once again, on the West Coast. Specifically, the Northwest League, where two primo shortstop prospects are expected to go head-to-head. Host Everett returns No. 11 overall prospect Noelvi Marte. The 20-year-old, who possesses plus power and plus speed, is set to take over the mantle of the Mariners’ top Minor League prospect following the news that Julio Rodríguez has cracked the Major League roster. Marte will be mirrored by No. 13 overall prospect Marco Luciano, his equal in terms of power. The Giants infielder will focus on making more contact in 2022 after striking out 37.2 percent of the time in his first taste of High-A last season.

April 5

Iowa @ Buffalo, 1:05 p.m.: The 2022 Minor League season kicks off at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, which began 2021 as the temporary home of the Toronto Blue Jays. This will be the first International League contest since 2019, but Buffalo’s roots in the league go all the way back to 1886 (with a team named the Bisons, no less). Contrast that with the Iowa Cubs, who are making their IL debut. Iowa vs. Buffalo? The rivalry begins now with a lid-lifting matinee.

It also begins with a bang in prospect terms. No. 7 overall prospect Gabriel Moreno is set to make a more meaningful move to Triple-A after playing only three games there last year, and the Blue Jays catcher has the plus hit tool and defensive athleticism behind the plate to make an instant impact at Sahlen Field. He’ll go up against No. 15 overall prospect Brennen Davis, a 22-year-old outfielder with good power and speed tools from the grass. Both could be in the Majors in the first half of the season, so be sure to catch them early at the Minors’ highest level.

Omaha @ Indianapolis, 7:05 p.m.: There is a strong case to be made that No. 26 overall prospect Oneil Cruz and his 65-grade power should have opened up the season in Pittsburgh. After all, the 6-foot-7 shortstop did reach the Majors last year and even went yard in his short two-game span. Instead, he’ll open at home against a prodigious power trio on the Omaha side. Second-ranked Royals prospect MJ Melendez is the reigning Minor League home run king with 41 blasts last season, while Kansas City's No. 3 Nick Pratto (36 homers in 2021) and No. 5 Vinnie Pasquantino (24 homers) were no slouches when it came to slugging. It could be a Home Run Derby straight from first pitch at Victory Field.

Indianapolis, per home opener tradition, is offering fans a “60 Degree Guarantee.” If the temperature is below 60 when the game begins, all in attendance receive a ticket voucher good for another April game. A win-win proposition, in other words.

Worcester @ Jacksonville, 7:05 p.m.: Much further south, there will additional left-handed firepower coming from No. 16 overall prospect Triston Casas in his return to Triple-A. The Red Sox first baseman, who helped Team USA capture silver in last year’s Olympics, possesses 65-grade power potential and a solid approach that should feature perfectly in the middle of the Worcester lineup. Be sure to check pitching probables: Jacksonville could make No. 35 overall prospect Max Meyer its Opening Day starter. The 2020 third overall pick struck out 17 in 10 innings for the Jumbo Shrimp last season and maintains the fastball-slider combo to pick up right where he left off.

And in case you were wondering: Yes, this is the first Worcester-Jacksonville matchup in Minor League history (and perhaps in all of professional sports).

Sugar Land @ Sacramento, 9:35 p.m.: The previously independent Sugar Land Skeeters joined the Minor League landscape in 2021, serving as the Triple-A affiliate of the nearby Houston Astros. The Skeeters have since buzzed off, because Sugar Land’s team is now known as the Space Cowboys. This identity simultaneously pays tribute to Houston’s contributions to space exploration as well as the Lone Star State’s cowboy legacy. The Space Cowboys era begins on the road, as Sugar Land takes on the River Cats in Sacramento. Unfortunately, none of the team’s players are named Maurice.

Reno @ Las Vegas, 10:05 p.m.: End your night right by checking out Alek Thomas’ return to Triple-A in this matchup of the Minors’ two Nevada clubs. The D-backs’ top prospect hit .369/.434/.658 with eight homers in 34 games with the Aces a season ago, and Las Vegas Ballpark might be the perfect launching pad for him to show off that improved pop once again. Thomas was a candidate to make the Major League roster out of camp, and a hot start could have him in Arizona before long.