Sad news today. According to a source within Minor League Baseball, the California League will announce the contraction of the Bakersfield Blaze and the High Desert Mavericks later today. In the past few months, you could read here several posts with speculations about possible moves. Now it appears that those speculations were pretty close to the truth.
For years these two clubs have been named in rumors about two Cal League teams that would be moved to the East Coast.
As you could read here recently, the Seattle Mariners have acquired an ownership stake in the Modesto Nuts (51%), leaving a void in Bakersfield. According to a source the Rockies already have signed a PDC with the Lancaster JetHawks.
The High Desert Mavericks, currently under the helm of the Texas Rangers, will be moved to Kinston. The Rangers have signed a deal with the city already that will assure their A Advanced affiliate to stay there for the next twelve years. This was already announced in May by Baseball America. So back then it was clear already that the Mavs would be on the move after the 2016 season.
The current Stadium of the Mavericks, Stater Bros Stadium in Adelanto never was a great facility for baseball. The stadium itself looked nice, but it was always windswept and due to the altitude and dry desert air, the balls traveled further than in other Cal League ballparks. It was a tough place to develop your pitchers. Next to the difficulties of developing the talent, there was a dispute about the rent between the club and the city of Adelanto. It’s no secret that the city wants the Mavericks out of Stater Bros Stadium.
Both the Bakersfield Blaze and the High Desert Mavercks are the teams that drew the least fans to their ballparks in the last five years. But ironically both teams have been playing some pretty good baseball which secured a play off spot for the Mavs this season and because of that the attendance numbers were on the rise.
The owners of the Bakersfield Blaze have been looking all over California for a new place to relocate. One of the cities they have tried to go to was Salinas, but the city could not find enough funds to finance the stadium.
The Blaze play in Historic Sam Lynn Ballpark. This ballpark opened its doors in 1941 and despite several upgrades, the stadium doesn’t meet today’s standards anymore. For example The field is located in such a way that the outfield is facing the West, resulting in delayed game starts (8.00 PM) during the summer.
With the Astros leaving Lancaster, it is clear that the Blaze will be the other team that will be moved to the Carolina League.
Due to these moves, the California League will shrink from a two- division, ten-team league to an eight team league.
Barring promotion to AA, Juremi Profar will play in the Carolina League next year.