The Pacific Coast League kicks off the 2010 season on Thursday. Leading up to Opening Day, MiLB.com will be taking a close look at what the year might bring for each team.
The Pacific Coast League says goodbye to Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium, as the O-Royals are scheduled to move into their new home in nearby Sarpy County, Neb., for Opening Day 2011.
With a capacity of 25,500, Rosenblatt Stadium is the largest baseball stadium outside the Major Leagues in the United States. The park, which has hosted the College World Series each year since 1950, was built in 1947 and originally called Omaha Municipal Stadium before being renamed in 1964 to honor former mayor Johnny Rosenblatt.
The stadium was one of the last in the country to feature live rather than prerecorded music. Longtime Rosenblatt organist Lambert Bartak, who played at Royals games from 1973-2002, became infamous in 1988 after being ejected from the game for playing the "Mickey Mouse Club" theme after a controversial call.
The O-Royals have been Kansas City's Triple-A affiliate since 1969. And, though players probably won't miss the annual extended road trip caused by the College World Series, Rosenblatt has played an important role in baseball at all levels.
Here's a team-by-team look at what else to expect in the Pacific Coast League in 2010:
2009 record: 80-64; American Conference South Division champions
2010 manager: Tim Wallach
What's on deck: Five-time All-Star Tim Wallach returns to Albuquerque for a second season after guiding the Isotopes to an 80-64 record in 2009 (an 11 1/2-game improvement from 2008) and the team's first division title since its inaugural season in 2003. ... Hitting coach John Moses and pitching coach Jim Slaton also will reprise their 2009 roles. ... Outfielder Xavier Paul, limited to 31 Minor League and 11 Major League games in 2009 by a staph infection, could see more action with the Isotopes to get back up to speed. The former Southern League All-Star batted .328 with 16 RBIs in 31 games with Albuquerque last season. ... Catcher A.J. Ellis, who batted .314 for the 'Topes in 2009, may start the season in Los Angeles due to Russell Martin's injury but could see more seasoning in Albuquerque. ... Matthew Sartor, a 6-foot-6 right-hander who led Double-A Chattanooga with 11 saves last season, could start 2010 in the Isotopes bullpen. ... After missing most of the 2009 season with a badly fractured tibia, shortstop prospect Ivan De Jesus will open the year with Albuquerque. De Jesus, the son of Major League veteran Ivan De Jesus, batted .324 at Double-A Jacksonville in 2008.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox
2009 record: 73-69
2010 manager: Stu Cole
What's on deck: Cole returns to Colorado Springs for his 10th season as a manager in the Rockies system. He took over managerial duties for the Sky Sox last May 30 after three-plus seasons guiding Double-A Tulsa. ... Depending on how the Rockies outfield shakes out, speedster Eric Young Jr., who hit .299 and stole 58 bases for the Sky Sox last year, will return to Colorado Springs to start the campaign. ... Josh Phelps, who has 189 homers in the Minors and 64 more in the big leagues, was signed to provide some power for the Sox. He missed most of 2009 with a shoulder injury but clubbed 31 homers with Memphis in 2008. ... Former Major League catcher Paul Lo Duca, who did not play in 2009, could spend time in Colorado Springs. ... Samuel Deduno went 12-4 with a 2.57 ERA for Tulsa en route to earning Texas League Pitcher of the Year honors last season. He made one late-season appearance for the Sky Sox and will return to Colorado Springs to start 2010.
2009 record: 71-73
2010 manager: Steve Decker
What's on deck: After three seasons under Dan Rohn, the Grizzlies will be managed by Steve Decker in 2010. In Decker's five seasons as a manager in the Giants organization, his teams have never finished worse than second in their league, including a 83-59 campaign with Double-A Connecticut in 2009. ... Fresno will begin the season with a battery of top prospects in catcher Buster Posey and left-hander Madison Bumgarner, MLB.com's No. 4 and No. 10 prospects, respectively. Both will be in the Majors before long, so catch them while you can. ... Henry Sosa, a 24-year-old right-hander who went 6-0 with a 2.36 ERA in 14 starts for Connecticut last season, is slated for the Grizzlies rotation in 2010. ... Joe Martinez, who pitched at four levels -- including the Majors -- for the Giants last season, will start 2010 with Fresno, where he posted a 4.89 ERA in seven outings in 2009. ... The Grizzlies will welcome several celebrities to Chukchansi Park this summer, including Alfonso Ribeiro, Dave Dravecky and Shawon Dunston.
2009 record: 72-72
2010 manager: Ryne Sandberg
What's on deck: The I-Cubs will have a new manager for the fifth time in as many seasons: Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg. It will be Sandberg's fourth year as a Minor League skipper following two seasons at Class A Peoria and one with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. ... Pitching coach Mike Mason and hitting coach Von Joshua return from the 2009 Cubs field staff. ... Pitcher Mitch Atkins, who went 8-12 in 27 starts for the I-Cubs last season, will be back in the rotation. ... Catcher Welington Castillo, a 2008 Futures Game selection, will follow Sandberg from Tennessee, where he hit .232 last season. ... Relievers Blake Parker and Jeff Stevens will be back in the I-Cubs bullpen. The two combined for 87 appearances last season, and both held opponents to sub-.200 batting averages.
Las Vegas 51s
2009 record: 71-73
2010 manager: Dan Rohn
What's on deck: After three seasons as manager of the Fresno Grizzlies, Rohn will helm the 51s in 2010. He also managed the Tacoma Rainiers from 2001-05. ... Las Vegas is the Opening Day destination for several top Blue Jays prospects, including a few acquired in the deal that sent Roy Halliday to Philadelphia. ... Right-hander Kyle Drabek, ranked by MLB.com as the No. 17 prospect, was one such acquisition. The son of former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek went 12-3 with a 3.19 ERA at two levels last season and should arrive in Vegas shortly. ... No. 16 prospect Brett Wallace hit .293 with 20 homers in the Cardinals and Athletics organizations last season. ... First baseman Brian Dopirak will return to the 51s after batting .330 with eight homers and 34 RBIs in 52 PCL games last season. ... Former first-round pick Dustin McGowan missed 2009 with shoulder and knee injuries after spending parts of four seasons in Toronto. He's slated to open the 2010 campaign with the 51s. ... The Las Vegas roster also will feature pitchers Brad Mills and Casey Fien and infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir.
2009 record: 77-67; PCL champions
2010 manager: Chris Maloney
What's on deck: Maloney returns for his fourth season as Redbirds manager after leading them to the 2009 Pacific Coast League championship. ... Hitting coach Mark Budaska also is back, joined by new pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. ... Starter Adam Ottavino will start the season with the Redbirds after making a run at the Cardinals' fifth-starter role in Spring Training. ... Former second-round pick Mark Hamilton will be back in Memphis after hitting .308 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 46 games with the Redbirds last season. ... Catchers Bryan Anderson and Matt Pagnozzi will backstop the Memphis staff, which will feature relievers Francisco Samuel -- a Futures Game selection last season -- and Tyler Norrick. ... Arizona Fall League Rising Star Daryl Jones and Shane Robinson are slated to patrol the outfield at AutoZone Park.
2009 record: 75-69
2010 manager: Don Money
What's on deck: Money is back in Nashville for a second season, his 13th in the Brewers system. ... Hitting coach Sandy Guerrero also returns, while pitching coach Rich Gale joins the staff after spending 2009 in the same role with Class A Hagerstown. ... Former second-round pick Josh Butler, who pitched at five levels in the Brewers organization last season, will begin 2010 with the Sounds. He was 9-3 with a 2.97 ERA in 24 Minor League games in 2009. ... Slugging third baseman Adam Heether is back in Nashville after batting .293 with 16 homers last year. ... Despite investing $2.5 million in upgrades to 32-year-old Greer Stadium in 2008, Sounds ownership is pushing for a new downtown ballpark in the coming years.
New Orleans Zephyrs
2009 record: 63-80
2010 manager: Edwin Rodriguez
What's on deck: Rodriguez and pitching coach Scott Miller both return from last season's staff and are joined by new hitting coach Greg Norton, who's making his coaching debut after ending his 13-year Major League career in 2009. ... Former first-round pick Andrew Miller will start the season with the Z's. The 6-foot-7 left-hander, who made 14 starts for the Marlins in 2009, is refining his delivery. ... Outfielder Mike Stanton, who ranks third among MLB.com's top prospects, will start the year at Double-A Jacksonville but soon could see time in New Orleans -- if he doesn't jump straight to the Majors. The 20-year-old clubbed 28 homers and drove in 92 runs at Class A Advanced Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville last season. ... MLB.com's No. 25 prospect, first baseman Logan Morrison, also could play a role for the Z's this season. ... Another big lefty, 6-foot-8 Sean West, is slated to begin the 2010 campaign with the Zephyrs. The Houston native went 7-3 at Jacksonville and 8-6 in 20 starts with the Marlins last season. ... All 144 Zephyrs games will be carried by the team's new flagship radio station, WMTI True Oldies 106.1 FM.
Oklahoma City RedHawks
2009 record: 69-75
2010 manager: Bobby Jones
What's on deck: Jones returns for his eighth season in Oklahoma City. He's led the RedHawks to the playoffs four times. ... The RedHawks open the year stacked with a plethora of young hitting prospects, including first baseman Justin Smoak, MLB.com's No. 9 prospect. The switch-hitter batted .244 in 54 games with Oklahoma City in 2009 but is expected to bounce back this season. ... Center fielder Craig Gentry hit .303 and stole 49 bases at Double-A Frisco last year and will look to torch PCL batteries in 2010. ... First baseman Chad Tracy earned Texas League All-Star honors last season, hitting .279 with 26 homers and 107 RBIs. ... The RedHawks can expect even more production from right fielder Mitch Moreland, who batted .331 with 16 homers and 85 RBIs last season at Class A Advanced Bakersfield and Frisco. ... Oklahoma City also will start the season with serious big league experience in its rotation. Derek Holland made 33 appearances (21 starts) for the Rangers in 2009, and Brandon McCarthy started 17 games for Texas.
2009 record: 64-80
2010 manager: Mike Jirschele
What's on deck: This marks the O-Royals' final season at historic Rosenblatt Stadium. Opened in 1948, the 25,500-seat facility is the only home the Royals have known. The final regular-season game is scheduled for Sept. 7 against Round Rock. ... Jirschele returns to Omaha for his 11th season. He managed the club when it last made the playoffs in 1996. ... The Royals rotation likely will be anchored by Gaby Hernandez, who was claimed off waivers in early March. The 23-year-old right-hander went 10-9 with a 5.23 ERA in 26 starts for Tacoma last season. ... Veterans Victor Marte and Carlos Rosa are slated to start the season in the bullpen. ... Kansas City has a collection of young prospects that will start the season at lower levels but could see time in Omaha, including hurlers Aaron Crow (MLB.com's No. 41 prospect) and Mike Montgomery (No. 43) and infielder Mike Moustakas (No. 32). All three are former first-round picks.
2009 record: 60-84
2010 manager: Terry Kennedy
What's on deck: Kennedy returns to the PCL for the first time since managing Las Vegas. He guided San Diego's Double-A Texas League affiliate in San Antonio to a 70-70 record in 2009. ... Portland's pitching staff will feature several arms with Major League experience. Left-hander Aaron Poreda -- acquired from the White Sox in last summer's Jake Peavy deal -- struggled in seven appearances with the Beavers in 2009 but was more effective in 14 Major League outings. ... Another southpaw, Cesar Ramos, returns to Portland after posting a 3.99 ERA in 15 starts last season. ... In the bullpen, righties Luis Perdomo and Ryan Webb combined to make 63 Major League appearances last season. Slugger Chad Huffman also returns after a 2009 campaign that saw him hit 20 homers and drive in 68 runs while earning PCL midseason All-Star honors.
2009 record: 79-64
2010 manager: Brett Butler
What's on deck: After a successful debut season in Reno that saw the Aces post the third-best record in the PCL, Butler, hitting coach Rick Burleson and pitching coach Mike Parrott all return in 2010. ... Veteran reliever Jose Marte is back in the bullpen after going 4-1 with a 4.52 ERA in 47 appearances in 2009. ... The starting rotation likely will be anchored by 6-foot-6 righty Bryan Augenstein, who had a 5.50 ERA in eight outings with the Aces last summer after dominating the Double-A Southern League with a 5-0, 0.99 mark. ... One of the more intriguing stories for Reno could be 35-year-old Major League veteran Kris Benson. The top overall pick in the 1996 Draft spent the 2009 season in the Texas Rangers organization. ... The Aces Ballpark experience will be enhanced by the completion of the Freight House District adjacent to the stadium, featuring a restaurant, sports bar and beer garden.
Round Rock Express
2009 record: 63-81
2010 manager: Marc Bombard
What's on deck: Bombard returns to Round Rock for his 26th season as a Minor League manager. He's guided three league champions since leading the Pioneer League's Billings Mustangs in 1982. ... The Express have finished no higher than 13th in the 16-team PCL in the last three seasons but will look to improve with help from catching prospect Jason Castro. The former first-round pick hit .300 with 10 homers and 73 RBIs at Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi in 2009. ... Texas League midseason All-Star Collin DeLome, who slugged 20 longballs for Corpus Christi last season, also will make his Triple-A debut. ... Reliever Chia-Jen Lo, a Futures Game selection last summer, will make the jump to Round Rock after posting an impressive 2.10 ERA in 42 appearances with Lancaster and Corpus Christi. He yielded two homers over 64 1/3 innings while holding foes to a .179 average. ... The Express signed a five-year deal in early March with new flagship radio station 104.9, The Horn (KTXX-FM) ESPN Radio in Austin.
Sacramento River Cats
2009 record: 86-57; Pacific Conference South Division champions
2010 manager: Tony DeFrancesco
What's on deck: The River Cats juggernaut keeps rolling with DeFrancesco at the helm again in 2010. In his previous six seasons as Sacramento manager, the River Cats have won three PCL titles and missed the playoffs just once. ... Two of the top sluggers in Minor League Baseball are slated to begin the season in Sacramento. First baseman Chris Carter, who was the Minors' top hitter in 2009, is ranked No. 37 on MLB.com's list of prospects. He batted .329 with 28 homers and 115 RBIs last season. ... Joining him is the No. 35 prospect, outfielder Michael Taylor, who hit .320 with 20 homers and 84 RBIs in the Phillies system in 2009. The 6-foot-6 Stanford product also stole 21 bases. ... After undergoing Tommy John surgery last June, A's starter Josh Outman is expected to return at midseason and likely will spend time rehabilitating in Sacramento. ... Former second-round pick Eric Sogard will start the season with the River Cats after batting .293 at Double-A San Antonio. The second baseman was acquired from the Padres in January.
Salt Lake Bees
2009 record: 72-71
2010 manager: Bobby Mitchell
What's on deck: The Bees' entire field staff from 2009 returns this spring, led by Mitchell, now in his third season with the club. ... Perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the Angels system is slated to debut with the Bees in 2010: 20-year-old left-handed starter Trevor Reckling, who had a 2.68 ERA in 26 starts at Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Arkansas last season. Only three years out of high school, Reckling has impressed at Major League camp this spring. ... Reckling likely will be joined by Arkansas batterymate Hank Conger, a former first-round pick who hit .294 with 11 homers as a Texas League All-Star in 2009. ... Despite a disappointing and injury-plagued 2009 season at Arkansas, right-hander Jordan Walden still tantalizes scouts with his hard, heavy fastball. He is likely to transition from a starting role to the bullpen and could see time with the Bees. ... Another 2009 Texas League All-Star, center fielder Peter Bourjos, should make an impact with the Bees. He batted .281 and stole 32 bases at Arkansas and is considered the fastest player and best defensive outfielder in the organization. ... The Bees and Angels, who first joined forces in 2001, extended their affiliation through the 2014 season.
2009 record: 74-70; Pacific Conference North Division champions
2010 manager: Daren Brown
What's on deck: Brown returns to Tacoma after guiding the Rainiers to their first playoff berth since 2005. He'll be joined by returning hitting coach Alonzo Powell and new pitching coach Jaime Navarro, who spent 12 seasons in the Major Leagues. ... Providing pop in the Rainiers lineup will be left fielder Michael Saunders, who hit .310 last season and appeared in 46 games for the Mariners. ... He'll roam the Cheney Stadium outfield alongside Ezequiel Carrera, who earned Southern League and Topps Double-A All-Star honors at West Tenn last season. Carrera batted .337, had 27 steals and reached base at a .441 clip. ... Left-hander Ryan Feierabend went 7-1 with a 2.16 ERA with Tacoma in 2008 but missed all of last season following elbow surgery. He's slated to start the campaign with the Rainiers. ... Cheney Stadium is scheduled for its first full renovation in 51 years at the close of the 2010 season. The $30 million project is to be completed by Opening Day 2011.