The Blue Rocks open a new baseball season in Wilmington Thursday night.
But it’s not just any season for the Rocks. It’s the team’s 25th anniversary season.
And the Blue Rocks hope their silver anniversary season is much better than their 2016 campaign.
They went 54-84 last year – the club’s worst record since bringing minor league baseball back to the First State in 1993.
Manager Jamie Quirk says even though player development is the top priority in the minors that doesn’t mean losing that much is acceptable.
“Our number one goal is to get everyone of these guys to the next level, but at the same time, you have to learn how to win too. That’s something that hopefully will change drastically this year because we didn’t win enough games last year," said Quirk. "When you don’t win enough games it creates a bad attitude and chemistry. And even though I never had a problem with even one kid last year, you still like to win”
The Rocks' opening night starter, Foster Griffin, was part of last year’s squad, going 5-10 in 20 starts.
The Kansas City Royals’ top draft pick in 2014 says he learned some lesson that should help him and the Rocks improve in 2017.
“Going from Low-A to High-A, I think I gave hitters way too much credit. It’s not as big of a difference as I made it out to be. I gave hitters way too much credit and I pitched a little scared. So I’m looking to change that and pitch more aggressively. ”
Griffin is one of 10 players returning to Wilmington from last year's squad. He's also one of five players ranked among Kansas City's top 30 prospects that will start the year with the Rocks. That group also includes the Royals #5 and #6 prospects, pitchers A.J Puckett and Scott Blewett. The organization's #7 prospect, catcher Chase Vallot, is also on the team, along with the Royals' 13th ranked prospect, shortstop Nicky Lopez.
The Blue Rocks entertain the Potomac Nationals in Thursday night’s season opener at Frawley Stadium. First pitch is at 6:35.