Every passing minute is another one closer to Minor League Opening Day, which this year takes place April 9. Wait, what's that you say? You are just now realizing you don't have a single piece of new merchandise from your favorite team? Say no more.Each offseason, beyond the bevy of
Every passing minute is another one closer to Minor League Opening Day, which this year takes place April 9. Wait, what's that you say? You are just now realizing you don't have a single piece of new merchandise from your favorite team? Say no more.
Each offseason, beyond the bevy of highly publicized team rebrandings and one-off identities, MiLB clubs across the country and at every level tack on some new secondary logos to their official set of marks while unveiling ever-so-subtle changes to their caps and uniforms. What follows is a smattering of just some of these updates that have taken place this offseason and perhaps flown under the radar of even the biggest Minor League logo fanatic (you know who you are).
(Double-A Eastern League, Cleveland Indians)
We begin our alt-logo journey in northeast Ohio with the Akron RubberDucks, who you may recall unveiled an identity overhaul six years ago following 17 seasons as the Aeros -- an eye-catching look that leveraged the city's standing as the "Rubber Capital of the World." Now, for 2020, they've made an addition to their logo sheet that's perhaps more in line with what one might expect from a Minor League team sporting such a moniker -- some kid-friendly duck imagery that Ernie from Sesame Street would be proud of. Akron, which has teased the look before, will make it official and float the old-school yellow duck on their second alternate cap this season.
Binghamton Rumble Ponies
(Double-A Eastern League, New York Mets)
Binghamton's new cap addition for 2020 brings up an item of note for hat nerds and one that will be referenced in the rest of this piece. New Era's Diamond Era fabric -- familiar to baseball fans as that used for batting practice and Spring Training caps over the last several years -- is being replaced by a new material called "Alternate Dash." (Adjust your fabric meters accordingly.) The Ponies have a new mark for their "AD" cap this year which flips the horse from the primary logo -- it's now moving around a carousel from your right to your left -- and incorporates Binghamton's "B" stylized as the carousel animal's support pole. The newest entry to the Ponies' logo set replaces last year's BP cap, which featured an anthropomorphic merry-go-round horse wearing boxing gloves.
(Rookie Appalachian League, Atlanta Braves)
It certainly wasn't the most dramatic redesign of the offseason, but Rookie-level Danville has a refreshed logo suite for 2020 and four new caps along with it. Gone is Danville's previous "D" with Atlanta's tomahawk below it, and in its place is a new letter logo with a more Atlanta-esque "D" with the tomahawk now through the center. The letter alone will be on Danville's navy-crown/red-bill-and-button "game cap," while the letter and tomahawk mark will appear on the club's three other hats, including a navy-crown/red-bill-and-button alternate, an all-navy alternate, and an all-navy AD. Danville's primary logo has been updated as well, with a roundel featuring the traditional parent club "Braves" script and tomahawk replacing the previous "D" iteration.
Down East Wood Ducks
(Class A Advanced Carolina League, Texas Rangers)
Already heading into their fourth year of existence, the Carolina League's Down East Wood Ducks will sport a new orange AD hat in 2020 with their full primary logo on the front. This same cap style was unveiled in Down East's original uniform and logo set in 2017 as an alternate, but its previous iterations were as an alternate version of a New Era 5950 game cap and not a mesh BP style. Get excited, Wood Ducks fans. That all changes for the upcoming season.
Great Falls Voyagers
(Rookie Advanced Pioneer League, Chicago White Sox)
Rolling out an update to their official set of logos just last week, Great Falls will also be sporting a new look for batting practice and other such pregame festivities in 2020. Just as it is on their all-black home cap, the Voyagers' familiar-looking baseball-orbited V takes the center spot on their new AD lid. The cap itself is a bit more colorful overall, however, featuring a green bill and button as well as a black crown to complement the gray front panels.
(Triple-A International League, Atlanta Braves)
Since unveiling their new name for the 2018 season -- the first Atlanta-owned Minor League franchise to boast a unique team identity outside of the parent club's -- the Stripers have continued to test and evolve, adding throwbacks and alternate looks to their logo set.
"We wanted to continue to appeal to all age groups," said Stripers general manager Adam English. "We wanted something that appealed to younger people but also appealed directly to the community. Really, I think that if you're not evolving or not at least taking a look at ways that you can evolve, then you're kind of stuck."
This year, Gwinnett's new AD cap goes a bit less fishing-themed and a bit more location-centric. "GWIN" is splashed across the front of a seafoam green-ish hat with an inlaid look of water and waves in the lettering.
"We're county-based, and we're a giant county," English continued. "We're a million people just in our county, and it's made up of a bunch of different cities. People are proud to be from Gwinnett County, and we're proud to be Gwinnett's team, so we wanted something that really encompassed all of the communities that we connect here in Gwinnett.
"One of the things we did really well last year and that we're continuing to do is that we embraced that vibrant green color. You see teams like the Seahawks in Seattle and the Carolina Panthers with their electric blue. That accent color, a lot of times we can do some more edgy things with. It's a little bit less traditional, and so the 'GWIN' hat specifically this year, making it green, we wanted something to mix up our colors."
The Stripers also unveiled a new two-tone navy and white hat with their fishing worm logo to be worn with their retro alternate uniform as well as changes to their home pinstripe top.
(Class A South Atlantic League, Philadelphia Phillies)
In addition to nailing down perhaps the most obvious sponsor partnership in sports for 2020, the BlueClaws have rolled out maybe the cutest hat in the game. Lakewood pays homage to its Jersey Shore roots with a new alternate hat and jersey for this year featuring an adorable tiny crab peeking out from under beachgoer's bucket ("walking across the beach," according to the team's release). The cap features a beach ball-inspired color scheme with a sand-colored brim and panels of yellow, blue and red in addition to the white front panel. The jersey is just as eye-catching with a light blue body, royal blue sleeves and yellow-and-red piping. The new look is the latest step in the club's commitment to bringing a Jersey Shore feel to FirstEnergy Park. Two years ago, the team opened a nine-hole mini golf course and a Home Run Pavilion featuring boardwalk-like games before unveiling a beer garden last season. Lakewood will sport its new summer threads for every Thursday home game.
(Triple-A Pacific Coast League, Texas Rangers)
The Sounds underwent a full makeover last year with widely praised -- and by current Minor League standards, rather muted and classic -- new logos and uniforms. Heading into next season, their AD cap is new, incorporating the franchise's alternate tri-star logo.
"There was one hat last year with the home plate tri-star, and we loved it and hoped the fans would," Sounds general manager Adam Nuse said. "Sure enough, it was our top seller."
The mark, inspired by the Tennessee state flag, features three stars inside a home plate outline and will be on a navy and red cap this season, replacing last year's BP hat with a blue "N" on an all-red lid which actually wasn't sold by the team at retail.
"When you drive around Nashville, there's tri-stars on everything. To incorporate that really was a no-brainer once they brought that to us," Nuse said. "Minor League Baseball was coming out with new material for the [batting practice hats], and we felt like when they were going to upgrade it and change it up, our new one was going to be a navy hat with the red bill and incorporate that in a different color combination. With the new material, I think we're optimistic that it's upgraded and is going to do really well."
Northwest Arkansas Naturals
(Double-A Texas League, Kansas City Royals)
Whereas a lot of teams are shifting their existing Diamond Era BP cap designs to New Era's new AD style, Northwest Arkansas has a totally new look for its lid. That's by design -- in multiple ways.
"We hadn't changed the look of our BP cap since we've been here, so it'd been 12 years of a pretty similar look," Naturals vice president and general manager Justin Cole said. "We'd obviously updated it based on the new style of cap, but the basic nuts and bolts hadn't changed. We went kind of back to the drawing board this year, and the look we ended up on was almost a take on a design that New Era had thrown our way years back. We had kicked the tires on looking at maybe switching a few things up with the BP cap or maybe an alternate cap. It was probably six, eight years ago, so this year when we were doing it, we looked back and I think ended up combining two ideas they sent us back in the day, and it coalesced into the design we ended up on."
The state of Arkansas, with a star in the northwest corner to mark the Naturals' home, is adorned with a Royals-inspired crown.
"It gives a little homage to the state of Arkansas but puts the Royals, the crown, the Naturals, kind of ties everything our brand is about together," Cole said.
Portland Sea Dogs
(Double-A Eastern League, Boston Red Sox)
One of the most venerable nicknames in the Minors gets a swath of new hats to sport its identity in 2020. The Sea Dogs will introduce four new caps this year: three alternates and a new AD look. Two of those incorporate that state of Maine. Portland's new third alternate and AD lids feature the team's familiar bat-chomping marine canine in front of the state outline with Maine in red on the alt and featuring a stars-and-stripes backdrop in the AD look. Portland's most interesting look (at right) is on its second alternate, which brings the dog out of its usual place perched inside the "P" and places it alone atop the bill of the cap. According to the team's store, it'll be worn on Sundays.
(Triple-A International League, New York Yankees)
While the RailRiders have a mostly train-themed look, one of their alternate logos has flown off the shelves with fans of their parent club since the team was rebranded. New for this season, the Baby Bomber is aboard Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's AD hat in 2020, replacing the "R" logo that adorned the cap last year. One thing that has always impressed me about this logo is how the baby can simultaneously be chomping on a pacifier and also sporting a mean five o'clock shadow. They make 'em differently in that area, I guess.
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.