A minor league shuffle is still expected to leave Kinston, N.C., without its high-Class A Carolina League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. That doesn’t mean the city of fewer than 25,000 is giving up on professional baseball.
If the K-Tribe-Mudcats-Blue Wahoos swap takes place, where does that leave Kinston? Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner, Carolina League President John Hopkins and Kinston Indians Chairman Cam McRae — who sold the team but seeks a replacement — are all hoping something works out.
“The reality is that the moving parts are going to determine when opportunities are present,” O’Conner told the Kinston Free Press and other media last week on a visit to the Indians’ Grainger Stadium. “I can tell you this: that [Hopkins and McRae] and my staff are committed to seeking opportunities and identifying opportunities. Whether or not they’ll pan out and whether or not they’ll fit is part of the process.”
Even within the Carolina League, Frederick and Potomac aren’t in the most settled of situations. With the independent Atlantic League interested in putting a team in Frederick, the Keys have reportedly offered to more than triple their annual lease payment to the city. Meanwhile, Art Silber, owner of the Potomac Nationals, told Baseball America he will unveil a plan for a new ballpark in Prince William County later this summer.
Other leagues below high-Class A also may offer Kinston hope, and if nothing materializes from a minor league franchise, a college summer league team likely would move into the 62-year-old ballpark that was last renovated in 2003.