What's on Deck: New ballgame for 2010

New pitchers, new ballpark, new team highlight week

Richmond's park will once again host Minor League action Thursday. (Joy R. Absalon/MiLB.com)

By Benjamin Hill / MiLB.com | April 12, 2010 6:10 AM ET

With 120 affiliated teams now in action, it can be tough to keep track of all the goings-on in the vast world of the Minor Leagues. Each Monday, MiLB.com will do its best to help you sort through the clutter by providing a peek at the week ahead.

The BB&T Ballpark era begins
Game: Potomac @ Winston-Salem
When: April 13, 7:05 p.m. ET

BB&T Ballpark was supposed to open in time for the 2009 campaign, but a series of unexpected construction delays put the kibosh on those plans. But good things come to those who wait, and on Tuesday, fans will finally be able to see a game in Winston-Salem's sparkling new downtown facility. The evening's ballgame will be preceded by a full day of celebration and ceremony, including an afternoon pep rally. Justin Edwards is slated to start the game for the Dash, fresh off earning a win against Kinston in his 2010 debut on April 8.

Drabek faces off against his old club
Game: New Hampshire @ Reading
When: April 14, 6:35 p.m. ET

The Phillies first-round Draft pick in 2006, Kyle Drabek has emerged in recent seasons as one of the game's top pitching prospects. The Texas native spent a good part of 2009 with Reading, where he went 8-2 with a 3.64 ERA over 15 appearances. Drabek will once again toe the slab in Reading on Tuesday, but this time as a member of the opposing New Hampshire Fisher Cats. A key part of the deal that sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies, Drabek is now pitching as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Will he show the Phillies that it was folly to deal him?

Hank's home gets a new home
Game: Birmingham @ Mobile
When: April 14, 8:05 p.m. ET

The BayBears home opener will be highlighted by an unprecedented event, as the team has physically transported the childhood home of Mobile-native Hank Aaron to the grounds of aptly-named Hank Aaron Stadium. The refurbished domicile will now serve as a museum and learning center, and Wednesday's gala unveiling will be attended by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Rickey Henderson, Bob Feller, Ozzie Smith and Bruce Sutter, in addition to Aaron himself.

Baseball returns to The Diamond
Game: Reading @ Richmond
When: April 15, 7:05 p.m. ET

The International League's Richmond Braves relocated to Gwinnett County, Ga., following the 2008 campaign, leaving a vacancy in one of Minor League Baseball's most populous markets. The Richmond Flying Squirrels have flown in to fill that void, and on Thursday, the Eastern League team kicks off its home season against the Reading Phillies. The Flying Squirrels will compete at The Diamond, a 25-year-old facility that has recently undergone a series of renovations. For Richmond's legions of baseball supporters, the evening will certainly be a memorable one, with skydivers scheduled as part of the pregame festivities and a fireworks show following the ballgame.

The Indians open up in Indy
Game: Toledo @ Indianapolis
When: April 16, 8:15 p.m.

Indianapolis has long been regarded as an excellent city for professional athletics, but its prominence in the sporting scene has never been greater. Indiana's capital city hosted both the Baseball Winter Meetings and the NCAA Final Four, and the hometown Colts appeared in the Super Bowl. Now it's time for the Indians to make their presence felt, as the club kicks off its first homestand Friday. The Indians roster is highlighted by third baseman Pedro Alvarez, the second overall pick of the 2008 Draft.

Strasburg appears in front of a hometown crowd
Game: New Britain @ Harrisburg
When: April 16, 7 p.m. ET

The No. 1 pick in the 2009 Draft, Stephen Strasburg made his much anticipated professional debut on Sunday in Altoona. The 21-year-old Harrisburg Senator pitched solidly, allowing four runs -- one earned -- while striking out eight over five innings of work. He'll look to improve on those numbers Friday, when he appears at Harrisburg's newly-renovated Metro Bank Park in front of what is sure to be a boisterous and highly partisan assemblage of baseball fanatics.

Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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