Check the aesthetic: New team looks abound

An overview of offseason identity changes on Minor League landscape

Exciting times: The above nine Minor League logos will make their season debuts in 2017.

By Benjamin Hill / MiLB.com | February 23, 2017 10:00 AM

Over the approximately 14-week offseason, three brand-new Minor League teams unveiled their names and logos. Three preexisting teams changed names and logos, and another three revealed new logos.

Now that these changes are in the rearview mirror, it's time for our annual look at the myriad aesthetic changes that took place along the Minor League landscape.

Date: Oct. 26
Team: Florida Fire Frogs
Occurrence:
Name, logos of new franchise revealed
Designer: Brandiose
The Florida Fire Frogs, previously known as the Brevard County Manatees, will operate out of Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Florida. Fire Frogs was a merging of two suggestions -- Fireflies and Coquis -- received during a Name the Team contest. Coquis are a species of frog native to Puerto Rico, and it is no coincidence that the greater Orlando area (of which the Fire Frogs are a part) has a large Puerto Rican population.
He said it: "This is a big area, and our name signifies that we have the expectation of being big. We want to be the community's team, to bring more people to the table." -- Fire Frogs president Joe Harrington

Date: Oct. 27
Team: Lynchburg Hillcats
Occurrence:
New logos
Designer: Brandiose
The Hillcats staged a Name the Team contest in July, which included comparatively ludicrous contenders such as Lamb Chops and Love Apples. But Hillcats was one of the options, and fans voted overwhelmingly in favor of keeping that name. Thus the team simply rebranded, unveiling an angular look accentuated with swaths of teal and lime green.
He said it: "I think what we wanted was almost a Penn State [Nittany Lions] type of look, more fierce than the Grinch-looking cat [from the old logo]." -- Hillcats president Chris Jones.

Date: Nov. 2
Team: Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Occurrence:
New name, logos
Designer: Brandiose
The sun set on the Suns moniker on Nov. 2, when Jacksonville abruptly announced that, effective immediately, they would be known as the Jumbo Shrimp. The new name is an homage to Jacksonville's aquatic surroundings -- the logos featuring a muscular crustacean emerging out of a pail of boiling water were designed by Brandiose. Sound familiar? Brandiose had a hand in the first six new names or logos unveiled this offseason.
He said it: "We perfectly understand that change is hard. It's a journey, one we've seen play out before. We're not turning our back on the great history of this team. ... It's time to start a new chapter." -- Jumbo Shrimp owner Ken Babby.

Date: Nov. 2 (name revealed); Jan. 11 (logo revealed)
Team: Down East Wood Ducks
Occurrence:
Name, logos of new franchise revealed
Designer: Brandiose
The Carolina League will have two new entrants in 2017, the result of a corresponding contraction in the California League. One of those teams is the Down East Wood Ducks, who will play at Grainger Stadium in Kinston, North Carolina. The Wood Ducks are named for a bird prevalent in the region, a favorite among hunters and renowned for their colorful plumage. The corresponding wordmark resembles an illuminated neon sign, referencing the down-home hospitality one expects to receive at a North Carolina diner.
He said it: "That duck out in the wild, he wants to play baseball. We have a very resourceful duck who wants to play so badly he made his own bat." -- Wood Ducks GM Wade Howell.

Date: Nov. 3
Team: Binghamton Rumble Ponies
Occurrence:
New name, logos
Designer: Brandiose
After 25 seasons as the Mets, Binghamton decided to go with a regionally specific identity celebrating its status as "Carousel Capitol of the World." Rumble Ponies are a particularly fierce brand of pony, however, one that cannot be contained by a children's amusement ride. The hard-charging equine depicted in the primary logo presumably has rumbled off the carousel and into the great wide open.
He said it: "The aggression and fighting spirit in the horse represents the fighting spirit of Binghamton. Ready to do battle. Ready to take on the world." -- Rumble Ponies owner John Hughes.

Date: Nov. 15
Team: New Orleans Baby Cakes
Occurrence:
New name, logos
Designer: Brandiose
King cakes, a Mardi Gras dessert staple, come with a variety of fillings. The most unique of these is a plastic baby figurine - a baby cake, if you will. The New Orleans Baby Cakes era comes 24 seasons as the "Zephyrs," a name that the team retained after relocating from Denver. The Baby Cakes marked the sixth and final new primary logo designed by Brandiose this offseason.
He said it: "I want them to look at the logo and see the baby busting out -- a determined look, swinging a bat, ready to play ball." - Cookie Rojas, Baby Cakes senior vice president and general manager.  

Date: Nov. 18
Team: Buies Creek Astros            
Occurrence: Name, logos of new franchise revealed                 
Designer: Reworking of parent-club logo
Joining the Wood Ducks in the Carolina League are the Buies Creek Astros, who will share Jim Perry Stadium with Campbell University's Fighting Camels. Don't get too attached, however, as the team is slated to move to a new ballpark in nearby Fayetteville prior to the 2019 season. The team's logos and uniforms are modeled after the parent Houston club, and a Name the Team contest will take place once construction on the Fayetteville ballpark gets underway.
He said it: "We basically looked at [the Appalachian League's] Greeneville [Astros], and it's a good Minor League logo for a team owned by the parent club. We took Greeneville and changed it to Buies Creek." -- David Lane, general manager of both the Greeneville and Buies Creek Astros.

Date: Dec. 19
Team: Staten Island Yankees
Occurrence:
Rebranding postponed
Sorry, Pizza Rats fans. A planned Staten Island rebranding (which also included candidates Bridge Trolls, Rock Pigeons, Heroes and Killer Bees) has been put on hold. The team will play the 2017 season as the Yankees, but very well may rebrand themselves in 2018.
He said it: "At the end of the day, Minor League Baseball has deadlines in place. We tried like heck to work around them." -- Staten Island Yankees president Will Smith.

Date: Jan. 18
Team: Memphis Redbirds           
Occurrence: New logos
Designer: Studio Simon
The Redbirds' goal with their new logo was to put the emphasis on Memphis. Thus, the primary logo features a neon sign which pays tribute to the city's nightlife and musical heritage. The logo was designed by Studio Simon, a Louisville-based firm that in recent years has worked with the Daytona Tortugas, Tennessee Smokies, South Bend Cubs, Kane County Cougars and Hickory Crawdads.
He said it: "To me, the [previous logo] was more or less the Cardinals brand with the word 'Memphis.' But we're a local business. Those neon lights of Beale Street speak to the soul of the city -- its music and the history of the blues and rock 'n' roll." -- Redbirds owner Peter Freund.

Date: Feb. 1
Team: Lowell Spinners
Occurrence:
New logos
Designer: FS Design
2016-17 rebranding season ended with the unveil of the Lowell Spinners' new logos, created by FS Design. The Spinners' baseball bat "spindle" remains part of the logo, but mascot Canaligator emerges as the primary focus. The Spinners adopted the Boston Red Sox font, emphasizing their status as the only Minor League team located in the state of Massachusetts.
He said it: "We didn't want to start all over from scratch. We wanted to root the team and mascot in the community, in a way that was completely unique to Lowell." -- Spinners owner Dave Heller. 

Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More