Atlantic League makes changes for 2018 season
Blue Crabs select three in Player Dispersal Draft; Road Warriors back again
The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball recently announced the season schedule for 2018.
The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs will play a 126-game schedule next season with the season opener coming April 27 at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf against the two-time defending Liberty Division champion Long Island Ducks.
The Liberty Division will welcome back the addition of the Road Warriors, who will, by their calling of their name, play each of their games on the road. They’ve been utilized by the league in seasons past, most recently in 2011, and will replace the Bridgeport Bluefish.
“It is a bridge to 2019, so it will be a one-year team and they will participate in 2018 and we have another location that we will expand to in 2019 bringing us back to our full complement of eight communities,” said Atlantic League President Rick White, referring to the addition of the Road Warriors. “We would’ve preferred not to have did this, but from us losing a lease in Bridgeport we decided to bridge the gap and reorganize the Road Warriors.”
The Road Warriors were placed in the Freedom Division in 2011 and went 38-86. They will be Bridgeport’s spot in the Liberty Division in 2018.
“The Road Warriors were part of the Atlantic League in 2011 while the league was waiting for Sugar Land to be built,” Blue Crabs general manager Courtney Knichel said. “It does work and proves to be something new and exciting for the fans. Essentially, the players that play for the Road Warriors travel the entire summer as they don’t have a home ballpark.”
Last Wednesday morning, the league held a Player Dispersal Draft for the remaining seven league clubs to obtain the 2018 negotiating rights to players whose rights were currently controlled by the Bluefish.
The Blue Crabs selected three players, obtaining the rights to catcher Jose Gil and pitchers Charles Brewer and Drake Britton.
Gil played in 56 games for the Bluefish with a .314 batting average and three home runs. The right-handed Brewer finished his first season in the Atlantic League in 2017 with an 8-6 record on the mound with Bridgeport. He struck out 117 batters in 141 innings pitched. The lefty Britton finished with a 4-1 record on the hill and a 3.68 for the Bluefish in 2017.
“The Dispersal Draft had three rounds and seven teams selected their preference for players who appeared on the Bluefish roster this year,” White said. “And players that weren’t drafted were free agents.”
The Blue Crabs open up the 2018 season with a six-game homestand beginning with opening night on April 27, playing three with Long Island followed by three versus Lancaster. That is then followed by the team’s first road trip of the season, which consists of a three-day weekend series in Long Island before returning home versus York and the Road Warriors.
With the Road Warriors joining for 2018, the Blue Crabs will have 72 home games and just 54 on the road. The home slate consists of a July 4th game versus the Somerset Patriots, Sunday afternoon games on both Mother’s and Father’s Day, a three-game series versus the Lancaster Barnstormers on Memorial Day weekend and a three-game series versus the Road Warriors on Labor Day weekend.
“Normally our schedule is 140 games long and each team has 70 home games, but with the Road Warriors not having a home ballpark we had to change the amount of games,” White said. “We now have a 72-game home schedule while the Road Warriors will be on the road.”
The league schedule will be divided into two 63-game halves, with the first half ending on July 5 and the regular season ending on Sept. 16.
“By adding two games to each team’s home schedule, that still leaves an additional 56 dates where there is no home ballpark to play those games for the Road Warriors,” Knichel said.
Long Island will host the 21st annual Atlantic League All-Star game on July 11 at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip, N.Y., making it the third time ever that the Ducks hosted the midsummer classic.