Sunday, February 3, 2013

February 3- Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Almost every Minor League cap that I’ve purchased has been as a result of either 1. Going to a game of the team and digging their hat. 2. Coming across a press release for a team’s new hat. Or 3. Doing some independent snooping. In the case of this, the 2006-present Myrtle Beach Pelicans batting practice hat, I have to admit that I saw an employee of Lids in Eugene, Oregon wearing it one day when I rolled in. I’m not ashamed to admit that I went into Lids, as that’s a pretty standard base of operations for my hat purchases. No, in this case I’m ashamed that I wasn’t at the forefront to purchase said cap before he got his hands on it. In a fit of rage that day I ended up buying five On Field caps, while on the inside I wept like a little kid who fell off their bike and skinned their knee. After I made my purchase I retreated back to my car while the crying crept upward and outward from my mouth and tear ducts as I drove home listening to “The Reason” by Hoobastank.

Ok, I’m going to level with you. The last 73% of that paragraph didn’t happen, but it certainly could have. I was a bit jealous that I didn’t have this hat, and I did buy five new hats, but I easily remedied my lack of a Pelicans hat within about 15 minutes of arriving back at my house before class. I was merely trying to add a little more drama to tale. My apologies.

The Pelicans are kind of interesting team. They were originally founded in 1980 in a little town in North Carolina called Durham. There was a movie that was loosely based on the team which came out in 1988 staring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. You know the movie, “Spaceballs”… I mean “Bull Durham.” The team lasted until 1997 when they relocated to Danville, Virginia and became the Danville 97s for the 1998 season before moving on to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 1999. A new AAA team was established in Durham and took the Bulls as their own, while the original Bulls became the Pelicans and remained as an advanced-A club. From 1999-2010 the Pelicans were an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves organization, but then switched to the Texas Rangers for the start of the 2011 season on into the present. So, since the hat is still in use, I had quite the pick of talent to choose from.

Originally I was going to throw down #19, Jeff Francoeur, but had a change of heart on account of him not being around when the team adopted this hat. I then scoured through the rosters and came upon a decent tandem from the 2009 season who have both made a significant splash in the Majors.

#12- A fresh faced second round draft pick (2007) from Orange, California, Freddie Freeman made an immediate impact with the Pelicans at first base. Freeman only played 70 games with the Pelicans as he was promoted after the All-Star break to the AA Mississippi Braves. During his time in Myrtle Beach; however, Freeman proved he was a potent offensive threat. He batted .302 with 6 home runs and 34 runs batted in. Ok, so maybe he wasn’t a towering threat, but Freeman still got the job done. Nowadays Freeman has bulked up a bit and hits for power. His average has dipped a little bit, but hey, that’s how things go in the Majors.

#34- This other cat played behind Freeman. Not necessarily in the batting order, but about 150 or so feet behind him in the field. Like Freeman, Jason Heyward didn’t stick around Myrtle Beach for too long. Heyward lasted 49 games in Myrtle Beach before moving on to Mississippi as well as the AAA affiliate in Gwinnett for the last three games for the season. During his time with the Pelicans Heyward went .296/10/31, about on par with Freeman, but that is kind of the way things go in single A. For their time there, both 19-year-olds finished their run going one-two in batting average. Only a prospect named Cody Johnson outshined them in home runs and RBI, but Johnson was dealt to the New York Yankees after the 2010 season, where he has not risen past AA. It goes to show, you don’t need a lot of power to move up the ladder, just consistency.

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