By Greg Gulas
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers will open the upcoming New York-Penn League season on June 17 when they take on Pinckney Division rival Jamestown at Eastwood Field.
The club’s 15th season opener will also include an opening night fireworks display, the first of eight such nights that fans will be able to enjoy.
Scrappers general manager Jordan Taylor is set to begin his third full season as general manager and his 12th overall with the club, noting that this year’s anniversary theme will be “Scrapperganza.”
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches at their weekly Monday meeting, Taylor added that two new faces will join manager Ted Kubiak’s staff, his third such managing stint with Cleveland’s short-season Class A minor-league affiliate.
“We have 38 home games and every game has a promotion,” Taylor said. “We just added Scott Erickson, former Minnesota Twins all-star twirler, as our pitching coach, and Shawn Larkin, a former Scrappers player, as our hitting coach, so we’re very excited about those two additions. Scott was the pitching coach for our Long-A team, the Carolina Mudcats, last year while this will be Shawn’s first season as a coach.”
Taylor stated that the team’s roster won’t be finalized until June 14, which gives Kubiak and staff very little time together prior to the season’s first pitch.
“Our initial group, which consists of approximately 20 players, will come from our Arizona training complex, while the annual Major League Baseball draft, which takes place in early June will help us fill out our roster,” he said.
Taylor was accompanied by assistant general manager for sales, Matt Thompson, who has been a fixture with the team’s front office since 2004.
Thompson added that in addition to a promotion for every game, kids will get to enjoy Sundays even more when Inflate-a-Maniacs returns.
Four premium give-away nights are also on tap.
“The Inflate-a-Maniacs is a traveling Minor League baseball act that appeared at Eastwood Field during last year’s all-star game,” Thompson said. “They were so well received last year that we wanted to bring them back this year for everyone to enjoy again. We will also have four Saturday bobblehead nights and those are always a big hit.”
The four bobblehead nights will honor former Indians and Scrappers catcher Victor Martinez (July 13), a double bobblehead featuring team mascot Scrappy and Eastwood Mall mascot Captain McFinn (July 27), the Tribe’s top infield prospect and current Carolina Mudcats shortstop Francisco Lindor (Aug. 10) and Indians set-up man Vinnie Pestano (Aug. 24).
Promotion nights include Kids Days every Sunday; ‘Every Monday Matters’ with a free general admission ticket given to those who bring canned goods, clothing items or children’s books to the game; Military Appreciation Day (two free box seat tickets to any current or retired military personnel with identification) on Wednesdays; Buck Nights ($1 for general admission tickets, hot dogs and 12-ounce drinks) on Thursday; and Friday night fireworks.
“We now have well over 50 former Scrappers players who have gone on to play in the majors. On this level, it’s just a great opportunity for everyone to watch tomorrow’s stars today at Eastwood Field,” Taylor said.
Next week, Lowellville native Joe DeRosa, a former NBA and current NCAA official, will serve as guest speaker.