The 2021 Aberdeen IronBirds made their way back to Aberdeen over the weekend and, with Sunday and Monday workouts held inside Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium, the team is prepared to begin its 120-game High-A East schedule Tuesday.
The IronBirds will open the season at Wilmington (Nationals), taking on the Blue Rocks at 7:05 p.m.
The roster, 30-players strong, offers a number of familiar names and faces who have played for or been assigned to Aberdeen in the past, but at a lower level. Aberdeen’s previous 18 played seasons were all in the New York-Penn League, a short season A level league.
More than two-thirds of the current roster have been in an Aberdeen uniform before. Those players are listed with *.
Pitchers: Felix Bautista*, (RHP); Kyle Brnovich, (RHP); Garrett Farmer, (RHP); Connor Gillispie*, (RHP); Blaine Knight*, (RHP); Dallas Litscher*, (RHP); Easton Lucas*, (LHP); Kevin Magee*, (LHP); Clayton McGinness, (RHP); Morgan McSweeney*, (RHP); Jonathan Pendergast*, (RHP); Grayson Rodriguez*, (RHP); Drew Rom*, (LHP); Nick Roth, (RHP); Garrett Stallings, (RHP); Kade Strowd*, (RHP); Ryan Wilson, (LHP).
Catchers: Christopher Burgess, Maverick Handley*, Cody Roberts*
Infielders: Andrew Daschbach*, AJ Graffanino*, Adam Hall*, Andrew Martinez, Joey Ortiz*, Toby Welk*
Outfielders: Shayne Fontana*, Kyle Stowers*, Johnny Rizer*, Zach Watson*
Also back is manager Kyle Moore, who led the ‘Birds to an 38-37 mark in 2018. Moore managed Delmarva in 2019, so it’s fair to say, Moore is familiar with a number of players this year’s team from his past two managerial roles.
Moore, as expected, is excited to be back and so is his team. “They’re super anxious, I think honestly were going to run into something where we’re going to have to control our emotions a little bit,” Moore said Monday by phone. “We’re just taken a year off right, we just got the game we love taken away from us. I think the players are in the same boat. All of their dreams and aspirations of doing this thing professionally just got slammed, the door got slammed shut last year and now all of a sudden you’re gonna open it up and we’re gonna have to remind players to really just keep their calm and play a game at the same intensity as opposed to just running out there like a middle linebacker trying to play baseball.”
The IronBirds will play six straight games at Wilmington before an off day May 10. The team will then play six games (May 11-16) at Hudson Valley (Yankees), before playing the 2021 home opener on May 18.
All series’ are six-game series with every Monday an off day league wide.
Moore likes the schedule. “This is the first time this has been done all throughout Minor League Baseball and I think it’s a great move, just an awesome move for development,” Moore said. “The Monday off is huge, too, for these kids to recover on a Monday is awesome.”
So after 12 road games and two Mondays off, Aberdeen will be ready for the home opener, where teams will play on the newly installed turf and new LED lights. The first home series will have Aberdeen hosting Wilmington. The opener is set for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.
“It certainly is a beautiful playing surface, so just the aesthetics of it look amazing,” More said of the field change. “It‘s perfect, there‘s no bumps, there’s no wrinkles in at all. We’ve been out on it the last couple of days just playing on it, trying to get a feel for how the ball moves on it. There really are no bad hops. It plays a little soft, a little bit bouncy.”
Throughout the season, all home weeknight games have 7:05 starts. Saturday games begin at 6:05 p.m. and Sunday games will be played at 2:05 p.m.