Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Snorting Bull Baseball Tour Day 5: Greensboro Grasshoppers vs. Hickory Crawdads

I took in a little bit of day baseball for the fifth stop of my summer baseball tour.  Greensboro is about an hour drive from Raleigh and the park came highly recommended from a few friends who had visited the park at different points in the past.  I have to say that I was really impressed with NewBridge Bank Ballpark.

It's smaller than the Durham Bulls Stadium I visited last night, but it is in that neighborhood of nice stadiums.  There is not quite as much around it, but it looks like there are some nice being build up around it.  The seating area is nice and the concourses are wide and spacious.

The Grasshoppers also have some nice little reminders around the stadium about the baseball history in Greensboro.  It's actually a lot more extensive than I thought.  Here's a "grasshopper" cannon inside the front gate of the stadium showing where the team got their nickname.....

There are also a series of banners around the stadium that show some of the players and different accomplishments of the different Greensboro baseball teams.  The banners are on the inside of the concourse in the entrances to the seating area.....

I walked around the stadium and looked at all of them.  Really great names.  Really great.  One other cool ballpark feature/gimmick and I will get to the game.

The Grasshoppers use a team of retriever dogs for different parts of the game.  The dogs pick up balls and bats and run around the field.  It's a really cool and unique feature for the stadium.  The dog sits behind a little temporary wall next to the Grasshoppers.  A few accidents happened during the game, but this guy is cool....

Here's a video of one of them in action in between innings......

Now to the game.  The Grasshoppers (Marlins) and Crawdads (Rangers) play in the South Atlantic League.  Both teams have some pretty good talent on the field.  The two best Grasshoppers prospects (on paper) are their top two draft picks from last year Tyler Kolek and Justin Twine.  Twine played in the game, but he is off to a slow start this year hitting less than .200.  Kolek did not play, but my friend Jimmy, who attended the game with me, had a good run in with him during the game.  More on that in a bit.  

The Grasshoppers also had Arturo Rodriguez who the Marlins signed off of a Mexican League team and ranks amongst their top 20 prospects.  He threw out a Crawdads base runner in the first inning and has a cannon of an arm.  

Their were several other Grasshoppers players who had nice days.  The team hit three home runs.  First baseman K.J. Woods, right fielder John Norwood, and left fielder Austen Smith all went yard.  I really liked Norwood.  Here's a quick video of the Marlins prospect's second at bat.  He struck out, but he ended the day with two hits.  

The real story of the game for the Grasshoppers was pitcher Ben Holmes who went seven innings and struck out nine.  The Crawdads managed three hits, but only one of them was hard hit, and the team went several innings in between their first hits in the first inning and a hit later in the seventh inning.  I did not do a lot of work with pictures or video on Holmes, but he's slight, throws in the high 80s, and wears number 47 (think Tom Glavine-not saying he's that good).  

The Crawdads roster features top prospects Luis Ortiz, Michael De Leon, Juremi Profar, and Brallan Perez.  DeLeon is on the disabled list, but the other three appeared.  Not much happened with them, but none of the Crawdads players did much against Holmes.  

Which brings back to Mr. Kolek.  I went to the game with a friend a had been to one of the first Grasshoppers games of the season.  It happened to be a game that Tyler Kolek pitched and won.  His first professional win.  He saved his ticket stub and brought it back to the park on the off chance we saw Kolek signing.  He did not come out of the dugout with the rest of the players at the beginning of the game, but did end up sitting in the stands in our section charting pitches.  At one point he got up, moved out of the sun, and sat in the row in front of us.  He's a big individual.  

and Jimmy got his ticket stubbed signed too...

It was a good game, cool park, and definitely worth the hours drive over to Greensboro.  More baseball in a few days.  


  1. We are traveling in the very same circles! I was there yesterday as well and I also got Kolek sitting in the stands. In fact, I am in one of your photos. In the panoramic photo that you took pregame, I am the guy in the yellow shirt to the extreme left. I was graphing the Grasshoppers as they entered the field. I only needed Quinones and Kolek to finish up on them. Of course Kolek later showed up to chart pitches and signed for me!

  2. http://www.ourstate.com/greensboro-grasshoppers-miss-babe-ruth-retires/