Sunday, August 23, 2015

Indianapolis Indians 6 at Charlotte Knights 0 (International League) - August 22, 2015

After a brief return to New York for work, I headed back to Charlotte to complete my Carolina Minors Trip. This time, the jaunt will only last four days, though I will get to add six ballparks to my venue count. The first stop was a Saturday afternoon tilt at Charlotte's new BB&T Ballpark, a downtown venue located next to the Panthers home, Bank of America Stadium.

It's only about 15 minutes from the airport to Mint Street, where the ballpark is located. Street parking is free on the weekend and evenings, so most games you should be able to find something reasonably close. There are also several lots close by that usually charge $5. On this day however, the Panthers had an evening exhibition game against Miami and the lots were already asking $25 or more, so I had to drive a few blocks away before I found a spot on Tryon Street. The benefit of this was walking past Green's Lunch, a diner with a very simple and cheap menu that sits right next to the ballpark and is a good spot to visit before or after the game.

BB&T Ballpark can boast of having the most expensive minor league tickets I have seen: $50 for what are known as Upper Club seats, visible on the upper left below. The Home Plate Club at $25 is a relative bargain, while the field box seats, which are all remaining seats down the lines, are $19 on game day. The HR seats in right field cost $16, with the view below. That is a lot for AAA baseball. Other outfield seating options are $13 and $11.

Thankfully standing room tickets are provided at $8 and there is a standing area along the concourse which has a table on which to rest your scorebook. As this is also in the shade, this is what I chose to do for most of the game.

This is also the one place where you can see the whole field without the protective netting atop the dugout obstructing some part of the infield or batters box. The ushers do check tickets here, though mostly to keep you out of the club seats. Halfway through, I was able to move into the field box seats without a problem.

The ballpark opened last season and has garnered rave reviews, though I found it to be fairly average for a new stadium. The downtown location is fantastic though, and offers skyline views from most sections.

This is the view from left-center field. These are where the $11 seats are.

The concourse is very spacious and more than enough for the crowd. There are several concession stands offering a wide variety of food, though I did not try anything after lunching at Green's, saving about $10 in the process. It can be expensive to eat at BB&T Ballpark, with prices rivalling the majors.

One cute feature is the 18-foot high dragon in center field, added this season. This reportedly blows smoke when the Knights homer or win the game, but sadly neither of those things happened on this day, so I did not witness the dragon in action.

Overall, BB&T Ballpark is a worthy addition to the International League and any downtown stadium is a plus in my book. Unfortunately, it is just a bit too pricy for my liking, but at least they have provided the standing option for us cheapskates.

The Game

On these trips, you can't pick your game to get the most interesting pitching matchup, but I lucked out in this one, seeing two hurlers on the opposite side of their career arcs. Kyle Drabek (16th overall pick in 2006, traded to Toronto in the Halladay deal, where he went 8-15 over 4 seasons, above), started for Charlotte (White Sox), while Tyler Glasnow (5th round in 2011 and now the #8 prospect in all of baseball, below) was on the hill for Indianapolis (Pittsburgh's affiliate despite the Indians nickname).

Glasnow has cruised through the minors and was making his 5th start in AAA. It didn't take long to see why he was so highly touted. He struck out 4 in the first two innings with his fastball hitting 95 on the gun. Drabek was not as effective, yielding a run in the 2nd when Josh Bell (#35 overall prospect) walked, went to second on a single by Jaff Decker, reached third on a wild pitch, and scored on a groundout by Tony Sanchez.

In the third, Keon Broxton (above, my PTW from a Midwest League game I saw in 2010) homered to deep center and Indy added a run after Jordy Mercer (below, down on rehab) singled, went to third on a Travis Snider double and scored on a Bell single.

Those three runs were more than enough for Glasnow who threw 6.1 scoreless innings, walking 2 and striking out 9 as he lowered his AAA ERA to 0.99.

The Indians added another three in the 9th  highlighted by a Snider single. That's Snider on the left above; he was recently DFA'd by Baltimore and signed by Pittsburgh. On the right is Dayan Viciedo, who hit 21 homers for Chicago last year but still had a negative WAR and is looking for a team to bring him back to the majors. He probably needs to make other adjustments than the one he is making above.

The final was 6-0, but the Charlotte scorekeeper didn't seem to want to add those final three runs. For me, a very memorable game as I know I saw a future star.


BB&T also sponsors the stadium in nearby Winston-Salem, using the same name. Can't they differ them somehow? One can be a Ballpark, the other a Ballyard or Stadium? Otherwise, it gets a little confusing.

This was my 13th active International League ballpark, leaving only Gwinnett, I had originally planned to make the three-hour drive there after this one, but changed my mind when I realized that I could see more games by staying in the area. So Gwinnett will have to be saved for next season.



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