The Week Ahead In The Minor Leagues (June 30-July 5)

Series To Watch At The Park


Kyle Schwarber

Kyle Schwarber (Photo by Paul Gierhart)

Peoria at Kane County (July 1-3): Besides that Kris Bryant fellow, there’s another guy in the Cubs’ system homering at a crazy rate. His name is Kyle Schwarber, and he’s been a professional for about two weeks now. In those 14 games, split between Kane County and short-season Boise, Schwarber has swatted an incredible eight home runs in just 50 at-bats. Sure, he’s probably playing at competition below his level, but that’s still pretty fun to watch. And on July 1, when the Cougars welcome Peoria, he’ll get to face Cardinals righthander Alex Reyes, whose fantastic if wild three-pitch arsenal will make his battles versus Schwarber must-watch viewing. Tentatively opposing Reyes on Tuesday will be righty Tyler Skulina, the No. 19 Cubs prospect entering the season who has allowed just 46 hits in 68 1/3 innings this season. The Kane County roster also features talented but struggling infielder Jeimer Candelario, outfielder Jacob Hannemann and righty Pierce Johnson, who should go in the second game of the series if things line up correctly. Rob Kaminsky, the Cardinals’ first-rounder last year, won’t pitch in the series, but St. Louis fans will get an eyeful of catcher Carson Kelly, the team’s second-rounder from 2012. Series of the Week

Grand Junction Rockies vs. Orem Owlz (June 30-July 6): Yes, Grand Junction and Orem will play each other all week. They play four at Orem followed by three at Grand Junction. All of the games will be televised by The series would be even more interesting if Rockies lefthander Kyle Freeland was making his pro debut, but while Freeland is on the Grand Junction roster, he’s not expected to pitch until next week. But without Freeland, there’s a chance to see Rockies third round lefthander Sam Howard, fifth-round third baseman Kevin Padlo and sixth-round shortstop Max George. Orem isn’t as stacked with 2014 draftees, but the Owlz do have eighth-round shortstop Jake Yacinich and ninth-round righthander Jordan Kipper as well as intriguing outfielder Natanael Delgado.

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Richmond County Ballpark

Richmond County Bank Ballpark

July 4 is Friday, so that means fireworks at minor league ballparks—more than usual. Every team that plays on Monday will more than likely have some sort of postgame extravaganza planned to light up the sky, so watch for that if you’ve got a team in your area. The Carolina Mudcats, as a matter of fact, are touting an Independence Day Fireworks Extravaganza every day from July 3-5. If you want a really cool view while you watch your fireworks, you have two really good options in the Empire State. First, there’s the Brooklyn Cyclones, whose Independence Day festivities will take place against the backdrop of Coney Island. The king of them all, however almost certainly has to be the Staten Island Yankees. We’re not sure if their fireworks are anymore firework-y than the rest, but their home, Richmond County Bank Ballpark, overlooks the Hudson River, and provides a perfect view of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty. So, if you’re doing the math, that’s baseball + fireworks + Fourth of July + Statue of Liberty. What does that equal? ‘Merica!