The phenom(onology) of MLB Draft League baseball

If a line drive falls into left field and no one’s in the stands, does it make a sound? That question came to mind as I cycled away from Sonny Pittaro Field this evening after watching several innings of an MLB Draft League game between West Virginia and Trenton.

Pittaro Field is at Rider University in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, and because of weird COVID-induced circumstances, it’s the home field this year for the Trenton Thunder. Their true home field is Arm & Hammer Park about 8 miles away in the state capital.

But the Buffalo Bisons, the AAA-affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, are playing their “home” games at Arm & Hammer Park while the stadium in their home city is being renovated.

The Buffalo bumped the Thunder into my neighborhood, and I’m glad for that. I haven’t seen live baseball at any level since 2019 , and I’ve managed to pop over briefly to Pittaro Field to catch parts of two draft league games.

The draft league players are prospects in this lowest level of the reconfigured minor leagues, and they’re hoping to make an impression on scouts to land a spot in the MLB draft and eventually, a big-league team. They’ll play a 68-game schedule this year, which will entail a number of long bus rides to and from several eastern cities and towns.

But where are the fans?

The draft league has posted scant information to help anyone who wants to learn about the team. The Thunder site is all about the Bison, and the only trace of the draft league Thunder schedule I could find is on the draft league site. Maddeningly, the schedule doesn’t post starting times.

Pittaro Field doesn’t have lights, so all games have to be day games. I called the Thunder office in Trenton and was told the draft league games are at 3 p.m. on weekdays, 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays.

Rider University at least has a story on its homepage about the games on their campus, but I haven’t seen any mention of the games from the Township of Lawrence. A mention in their weekly newsletter to residents would be a nice place to put a first plug.

The games are free, parking is free and close to the stadium, which is modest but nicely appointed with a main grandstand behind the plate and between the dugouts. Rider has its mobile food truck parked just outside the stands, along the first base line.

I speak only from what I’ve observed. I am mystified why there’s so little effort put into bringing people to these games where maybe, just maybe, some young phenom is starting down the path to big-league stardom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s