The 2018 incarnation of the Johnson City Cardinals kick off their season Tuesday, June 19 in Bluefield against the Toronto Blue Jays’ Appalachian League affiliate. But first, fans had an opportunity to greet their hometown squad at TVA Credit Union Ballpark in Johnson City, TN on Sunday evening.
The festivities were in full blast, with a basketball game, pitching games, giant Jenga, and host of other experiences for fans. The Cardinals’ management staff also had samples on hand – hotdogs, hamburgers, and drinks, all for free.
It took roughly 20 minutes into the event before the team showed up. Coming from the clubhouse and wearing jerseys, as they approached, the excitement became evident on the fans of faces attending the event. Young kids, pen in hand, rushed to meet this year’s squad.
Coming off a year in which the Cardinals won the West Division in Appy League play, they struggled to find their footing in 2018. A long winning streak was overshadowed by a string of losing streaks. Johnson City finished the year in third place with a record at just under .500 on the year at 33-34.
The Cardinals tried to ramp up the fan experience heading into the new season. Recently they unveiled a new set of team logos:
NEWLOGOS: Johnson City Cardinals release new logos for the 2018 season ? https://t.co/dx64cl41Wj
— J.C. Cardinals (@JC_Cardinals) June 13, 2018
This new look plays heavily upon the design of the parent club in St. Louis. More than that, major facility renovations have taken place, including removing bleacher seating and adding seats with backs, newly hung fans to keep fans cool during hot Tennessee days, and a complete overhaul of food and merchandise services.
Perhaps more than anything to entice fans will be the young third baseman. The St. Louis Cardinals had the 19th overall selection in this year’s Major League Baseball Rule 4 Draft. They selected 18 year old Nolan Gorman from Sandra Day O’Connor High School in Arizona.
Gorman was ranked 12th overall by MLB.com, so the Cardinals were fortunate to have the young lefty fall to them. Also fortuitous for St. Louis, Gorman signed for slot value, meaning the Cardinals, in theory, saved money on their first round pick, enabling them to have more money to spend elsewhere.
— J.C. Cardinals (@JC_Cardinals) June 12, 2018
There’s nothing more intriguing than young, first round level talent. If nothing else, locals in Johnson City should flock to the ballpark to see perhaps one of the next biggest names in baseball.
Manager Roberto Espinoza is is entering his Sophomore year as the manager with the Johnson City Cardinals. His first year was in 2013 as a coach, so he’s no stranger to what success looks like at the Rookie League level, and how to compete in the Appalachian League.
As noted above, he experienced moderate success in 2017. He’ll look to build on that experience from year one and try to capture another West Division title for Johnson City and the Cardinals organization.
The Cardinals will play 10 games in the month of June, only three of which are at home. The home schedule opens for Johnson City on Friday, June 22 against the Kingsport Mets for the first of a three game set before they hit the road again for two in Elizabethton. After that, the Cards will see the Mets again for three road games to close out the month.
The Roster Matrix is up to date, including all confirmed signings and assignments. The Johnson City roster will be completed once it is released by the organization. See the left menu bar in red under ROSTERS/PLAYERS/MOVES to access them all.
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