Ripken Baseball plans to officially announce the team name and colors for the Rays’ new A+ affiliate in Port Charlotte on Tuesday, October 21st. The team says it took careful consideration in choosing a name that reflected both the local community of Charlotte County and the fun and entertaining aspects of minor league baseball. Day-to-day operations of the team began immediately after the announcement by Ripken Baseball and the Rays that the team was moving to Port Charlotte on August 25th, but the team has operated since then without an official team name or color scheme. The Charlotte County team is the third team owned by Ripken Baseball, along with the Aberdeen Ironbirds and the Augusta Greenjackets. The Ironbirds have soldout every home game since their inception seven years ago, and the Greenjackets have seen attendance go up more than 40% in the three years since it became a Ripken franchise.
Dominican Winter League
Outfielder Maiko Loyola has begun playing for the Estrellas de Oriente in the DWL. Through two games he's gone 0-2 with a strikeout. Originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Pirates on May 23, 2002, Loyola was acquired by the Rays via the Rule V draft (AAA phase) from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Venezuelan Winter League
Infielder Cesar Suarez is playing for the Tiburones de La Guaira in the VWL. Through two games he's 2-6 with an RBI and a strikeout. Suarez was signed by the Rays as a Minor League free agent on June 3, 2005.
Arizona Fall League
Catcher Matt Spring checks in from the AFL with a blog post:
To be honest with you i may be enjoying my time here too much. That being because it is home for me. I grew up in Peoria, and have been watching the AFL since I was a little kid. It has been really nice for my family to be able to come and watch all of my games. A nice change from the season mainly because all of our affiliates are east of the Mississippi. I am sure that the ticket office looks at the pass list everyday and is amazed at all the tickets I am leaving for friends and family. They have been great about it too, they haven't said anything to me yet!
It has been a whirlwind last couple of months for me in my career. It started when my manager called me into his office to inform me that I would be representing the Rays in the AFL, which was a huge honor. Then my teammates and I in Montgomery Alabama (the Biscuits) were in a playoff race for all of August until being nudged out at the end by the Braves affiliate in Mississippi. Right before the last game of the season my manager (Billy Gardner) called me into his office one more time. This time to tell me that I would be joining the Durham Bulls in the International League Playoffs. The whole experience would have been great had I just sat on the bench, but I got an opportunity to play and helped contribute in both the first and championship rounds of the playoffs. We lost to some of my Fall League teammates who played for the Scranton Wilkes Barre Yankees in four games but it was a lot of fun. And yes they remind me often! But I would have done the same thing to them.