On Thursday morning, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (the KC Royals High-A affiliate) announced the sale of the team to Clark Minker and Main Street Baseball LLC.
Minker, the son of former legendary owner Matt Minker (who died seven years ago), will be the Blue Rocks’ managing partner and League Director, while Main Street will hold the majority of shares in the club.
Matt was the lead contractor in the construction of Frawley Stadium (the Blue Rocks only home since its inaugural season in 1993). The Carolina League’s Service Award is named after him.
Clark had this to say at the press conference via the Blue Rocks press release:
This team has been in my family ever since the first pitch was thrown back in 1993. My family’s construction company built Frawley Stadium and my Dad and I were the first people to play catch in the outfield. This team means more to me than just about anything, and I’m going to do everything I can to ensure that it thrives in Wilmington for decades to come.
Main Street now owns the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low-A affiliate of the Houston Astros in the Midwest League), the High Desert Mavericks (High-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers in the California League), and the Billings Mustangs (short-season affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds in the Pioneer League), to go along with the Blue Rocks.
Dave Heller, the Main Street President, was also on hand for the press conference. This is what he had to say:
My wife June and I are so thrilled to partner with our friends Clark and Maureen Minker as we prepare to build on all of the great work Clark, his dad Matt, and the entire Minker family have done over the past two decades in Wilmington. For a kid who grew up an hour away in Baltimore, owning one of the premier teams in the region is a dream come true. To do it with a great friend like Clark makes it all the more special. He and I have big plans to take this great club to even higher heights and provide fans here with the very best affordable, family-friendly entertainment and most fun in the entire region. I can’t wait to get started!
The two added in the press conference that long-time front office staffers will remain with the club, though they hinted at changes to come. A renovation of Frawley Stadium could be in the works (it definitely needs it!).
On Monday, the KC Royals added a minor leaguer and lost one.
They signed former Seattle top 30 prospect Gabriel Noriega. He is a slick fielding Venezuelan shortstop.
Noriega reached Triple-A in 2014, hitting .281 with 21 doubles and 36 RBIs. Strike outs are a problem, so he should fit into the Royals minor league system nicely. He struck out 86 times in Triple-A (101 games).
Noriega also played a short time with Double-A Jacksonville in 2014 for the fourth time in his career. There, he never hit better than .256.
Noriega will see a familiar face during spring training in Surprise: centerfielder Paulo Orlando. The two are currently teammates in the Venezuelan Winter League, playing for Lara.
He is hitting .264 in 55 games (216 at-bats) with Lara. Out of his 57 hits, just ten have gone for extra bases (six doubles, two triples, and two home runs). Noriega has scored 23 runs and driven in 20. His on-base percentage is just .284, as he has walked just five times to 43 strikeouts. He has also been caught stealing four times (to three stolen bases).
Not sure where Noriega fits into the Royals picture, as they have Orlando Calixte, Christian Colon, and Raul Mondesi at the upper levels.
Also on Monday, they lost catcher Brett Hayes to Cleveland.
Hayes, who surprisingly accepted the assignment to Triple-A Omaha late last season, made the most of his time in the Triple-A playoffs. Watching him in the postseason showed what a team player he is.
Hayes barely played during his time with the Royals, getting just 52 at-bats in 2014. Meanwhile, in 42 at-bats with Omaha, he hit .310 (not including the postseason). Hayes went 9-for-25 in the Storm Chasers final six playoff games and drove in seven runs in those games.
Wishing Brett best of luck with the Indians in 2015!
Earlier in the offseason, the Royals re-signed pitchers Noel Arguelles and Aroni Nina. Both are pitchers who can drive a person mad. Both have the stuff to dominate, but neither dominates often enough.
On the other hand, the Royals lost four players. Pitcher Sugar Ray Marimon signed with Atlanta. I thought Sugar should have been given a shot in 2014, but now he will hopefully take advantage with the Braves. Fellow hurler Blake Wood signed with Pittsburgh. After coming back from an arm injury and still being able to easily throw 100 mph, I do not think the Royals gave him a chance in 2014.
Infielder Paul Janish signed with Baltimore, where he has a chance to make the big league club as a utility guy. Tim Melville, who disappeared from sight but re-appeared in 2014, signed with Detroit.