Omaha opens its 2021 season – and its Triple-A East era – on Tuesday, when it begins a six-game series with St. Paul at Werner Park at 6:35 p.m. The Storm Chasers will be playing the Saints, the new top affiliate for the Minnesota Twins, for the first time in
Omaha opens its 2021 season – and its Triple-A East era – on Tuesday, when it begins a six-game series with St. Paul at Werner Park at 6:35 p.m. The Storm Chasers will be playing the Saints, the new top affiliate for the Minnesota Twins, for the first time in franchise history. Prior to this season, St. Paul competed in the independent American Association of Professional Baseball. Its transition to affiliated ball this offseason coincided with Omaha’s shift east from the Pacific Coast League. The moves were a part of Major League Baseball’s restructuring of the minors. The Chasers and Saints will be in Triple-A East’s Midwest Division, which also includes Iowa, Columbus, Louisville, Toledo and Indianapolis.
Shared Baseball History
While Tuesday night’s series opener will be the first game between Omaha and St. Paul, the two cities do share a unique baseball tie. A former version of the Saints played in the old American Association from 1901-1960 but relocated in 1961 when the Minnesota Twins came to town. That St. Paul team moved here to become the Omaha Dodgers and played at Rosenblatt Stadium for two seasons. The team folded when the American Association disbanded after the 1962 season, leaving Omaha without a minor league team until the Kansas City Royals put their Triple-A team here in their inaugural season in 1969. Omaha and the Royals have been affiliated ever since – the longest such Triple-A relationship.
Loaded Omaha Roster
The original roster Kansas City released for Omaha late last week was eye-popping when it came to starting pitching. The Storm Chasers were slated to open the season with a rotation that included 2018 first-round draft picks Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic as well as international prospects Carlos Hernández and Ronald Bolaños. That has changed now that both Bubic and Lynch have been called up by the Royals, but manager Brian Poldberg still has the pieces to put together one of Omaha’s better staffs in recent years. Offensively, the Storm Chasers should have a nice combination of speed and pop with a lineup that includes a number of players who have seen Major League time. Outfielder Kyle Isbel, who started in right for Kansas City on Opening Day, is among a handful of guys to watch.
Scouting St. Paul
Minnesota’s top two prospects appeared to be headed to Omaha to open the season until No. 1 Alex Kirilloff was called up by the Twins recently. Trevor Larnach, ranked second, is slated to make his return to Omaha this week, however. The outfielder was the hero of the College World Series for Oregon State in 2018, hitting a two-run go-ahead home run against Arkansas in Game 2 of the championship series only moments after the Razorbacks let a foul ball drop that would’ve sealed a national title for them. St. Paul has a pair of pitchers that used to pitch for the Storm Chasers in Luke Farrell and Glenn Sparkman. Also, Saints infielder Nick Gordon is the son of former Omaha Royals pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon.
The Storm Chasers and Saints play at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday with a 12:05 p.m. start sandwiched in the middle on Wednesday. The games on Friday and Saturday are scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. The six-game series wraps up with a 1:05 p.m. finale on Sunday.