With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Minor League Baseball in CT: The New Britain Rock Cats

(Ed. Note: With ground being broken on the Revolutionary Road that will connect Hartford and New Britain, we figured we better start covering New Britain. The best thing in New Britain? The Rock Cats. We're lucky to have devoted Twins and Rock Cats fan Andrew Walter join us to cover the team. Be sure to make the trip over and catch a game this summer.)

Hey, Sad City Hartford readers! My name is Andrew. For the last while, I have been running a baseball fan blog, Twins Fan From Afar. I'm from Minnesota originally, and am a big Twins fan (hence the name of the blog), but have been living and working in Connecticut for the past 6 years. I'm an attorney by day, and do the baseball stuff in my spare time. Go here for a little bit more about me. If you don't know, I should tell you up front that the New Britain Rock Cats baseball team is the AA farm team of the Minnesota Twins. So, by going to Rock Cats games, I'm seeing, on any given night, at least a few players that will someday wear a Twins uniform and play at Target Field in Minneapolis.

This winter, I stared adding Rock Cats coverage to my Twins blog. As far as I know, I'm the only native Minnesotan writing about the Rock Cats and living in Connecticut. I'm pretty sure that's not something to brag about. Here and here are a couple examples of the kind of stuff that I write about. A few times a week I'll also do game recaps. Recently, the good people at Sad City Hartford asked if I'd be interested in writing some Rock Cats stuff for them, and I'm thrilled to do so!

There are a few things to know about the Rock Cats right off the bat. First, they have 2 first-round draft picks on the team this season, Aaron Hicks, a center fielder, and Alex Wimmers, a starting pitcher. Hicks is off to just an OK start, and Wimmers is currently rehabbing an elbow injury in Ft. Myers, Florida, where the Twins have most of their minor league facilities. Second, the team is currently in first place in their division. They have been playing very good baseball, going 28-18 over the first couple months of action. Third, they already have sent a bunch of guys up to AAA Rochester -- the last step before the majors. This list includes reliever Deolis Guerra, starter Lucas French and outfielder Wilkin Ramirez. That's kind of the tough part about maintaining a competitive minor league baseball roster -- whenever someone plays really well, they're bumped up. Finally, there are a couple guys you just need to root for on this team. One of them is Chris Colabello. He played 8 years in an independent professional baseball league, mostly in Massachusetts. In his first year of affiliated baseball, he is holding his own. He's making $1,600 a month to play AA baseball. Decent money? Maybe. Enough to retire on? No chance. At 28, Colabello is too old to be a legitimate prospect, but he's the kind of guy you want to see defy the odds. For every prospect that got a $1 million signing bonus, there's a guy like Colabello -- unlikely to set foot on a major league field, but easy to root for.

If you haven't been to a Rock Cats game before, or if it's been quite a while, I definitely recommend checking it out. If you don't feel like spending $400 between tickets, parking and food, like you would to take the family to a Yankees or Red Sox game, give the Rock Cats a whirl (plus, they frequently play the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox farm teams). I'm not their ultimate cheerleader and I'm not on the payroll, but they do a pretty good job in New Britain. Yes, you will be aware that you're at a minor league baseball game, and yes, some of the promotions get old fast, but it's still very good baseball -- and, more importantly, it's the only affiliated professional baseball we have in this state.

So, be sure to check back here for more Rock Cats related posts. Also, you can find me blogging several times a week at Twins Fan From Afar, and you can follow me on Twitter @MNfanfromafar for baseball-related stuff (I promise not to tweet about what I am having for dinner or the health problems of my pets).

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