It’s been four years since the Giants moved their AA affiliate from Connecticut to Richmond. To mark their upcoming milestone fifth year, the team announced a new logo.
Some are surely scoffing at the depiction of the cityscape, making it seem like the baseball stadium they play in lies in the shadow of the downtown skyscrapers.
“The Diamond” does offer views of downtown, but is, in fact, two miles away. This suburban location, which comes with a large parking lot, is certainly convenient for car goers on the capital city’s north side. Anyone, however, who has been to a game there knows the only drinking, eating and shopping is done inside the stadium.
Talk of a new ballpark in Richmond has been going on for over ten years. Built in 1985, The Diamond is a serviceable relic from the days of a stadium-building era that cherished concrete and symmetry. Reflective of the area's love of baseball, attendance has not lagged since the Braves left and the Giants arrived. In fact, the Flying Squirrels drew a league high total last year.
In baseball, however, diamonds aren’t forever. The Mayor of Richmond, the business community and some fans want a new ballpark. The plan is to build a 7,500-seat stadium in the Shockhoe Bottom neighborhood. Steps from the train station, the development would include the ballpark and mixed-use.
Controversy has swirled around the proposed near downtown location. The Shockoe Bottom neighborhood is an historical site where slave-trading took place. Building on such sacred ground stirs up high passions. And then there’s the cost. One need only google “publicly funded stadiums” to see how fans have been fleeced in these matters.
Proponents of the plan emphasize the cost would be shared. Included would be a heritage site for the slave-trading history, a grocery store, a hotel, 750 apartments, parking decks, and flood mitigation.
The Diamond would be demolished, and the area re-developed with mixed-use. The new ballpark could be ready for an Opening Day pitch in April 2016.
As far as the Giants future in Richmond, who knows? Some have speculated the Nationals would move their AAA affiliation there. They are currently in Syracuse.
On the field, fans of the Flying Squirrels, who finished in fourth place (70-72) last season, had their eyes on several players. Second baseman Joe Panik struggled at the plate, but is valued for his defense. Catcher Andrew Susac is the top catcher on the farm and had a decent season offensively. At the hot corner Adam Duvall has hit for power.
Richmond baseball fans could be in for a real treat in 2014. A bonanza of arms is expected to arrive from San Jose, the “High A” affiliate who went 83-57 last year. Overall, the Giants minor league teams had the best winning percentage (.574).
The talk of San Francisco’s system is Kyle Crick. In 2013, the 21-year old fireballer from Texas blew away 95 California League batters in 68 IP.
“Cove Chatter” has this to say about Crick, the Giants first round pick in the 2011 Amateur Draft.
Just for fun, I totaled his 2013 numbers, including the Cal League postseason and the AFL… read it and weep: 23 G, 21 GS, 95 IP, 1.80 ERA, 64 H, 2 HR, 53 BB, 132 K.
Ditch the walks, and we’ve got a monster on our hands folks. He’s 21 years old.
Also highly touted is Edwin Escobar and Adalberto Mejia, a pair of southpaws, as well as Clayton Blackburn, another right-handed Texan.
Escobar split time between San Jose and Richmond last year with impressive results (128 IP, 1.104 WHIP). Giants GM Brian Sabean said earlier this week Escobar might start the season in AAA.
Horace Stoneham loved his windowbreakers so he would have liked Mac Williamson (OF) who cracked 25 home runs last season.
Ty Blach (RHP) is yet another prospect who shined in San Jose (130 IP, 1.090). Williamson and Blach were named to the 2013 Organizational All-Star team.
Baseball fans can be overly hopeful when it comes to farm hands, but this batch of pitchers has demonstrated great potential. As Giants blogger "obsessivegiantscompulsive" noted:
"all five members of the San Jose rotation in their Top 20 ranking of prospects in the California League….
No other team had their entire rotation in their league's Top 20 ranking…"
If you’re a baseball fan in Richmond who looks forward to going to games in a shiny new near downtown ballpark, it looks like you’ll have to wait at least three more seasons before you can look up at the skyscrapers.
Happy Fifth to the Flying Squirrels!