Last summer, the summer without Minor League Baseball, I penned an article listing, what I felt, were the Top 10 Minor League Baseball Brands. And boy where there a lot of opinions on that! Turns out people LOVE their minor league baseball, and we couldn’t be happier about that! So this year I took it to the Turf writers to weigh in on their favorite Minor League Baseball Brands and without further ado here is our Top Ten List for 2021.
We hope this isn’t the last time on this list for the Spinners, but alas they were part of the MiLB restructure that happened in December. We hope that Minor League ball can return to the great people of Lowell soon!
Last year’s #4 drops down to the honorable mentions list in a crowded 2021 field. That shouldn’t discourage this “Big Mo” and the gang. This team could easily climb the list next year.
Down East Wood Ducks
Making their first appearance are the Low-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Founded 4 short years ago, the Wood Ducks should be on everyone’s radar of ‘Teams to Watch’
The Top 10
10. The Syracuse Salt Potatoes
Back on the list for the second year in a row is this tasty rebrand of the Syracuse Mets. Salt Potatoes are a staple of Central New York and can be found at county fairs, the Great New York State Fair, and in backyard cookouts across the Syracuse area. To start the season fan attendance will be limited but the Mets are selling cutouts for a good cause.
9. The Akron Rubber Ducks
Spring is here, and it’s time for the ducklings to start taking to the water. Or, if you are a Rubber Duck, the bathtub or the baseball field in Ohio. Fun fact, Akron is the Rubber Capital of the World, so that makes this name all the better.
These Ducks of Rubber make their home at Canal Park and their parent team is Cleveland. At the ballpark, you can find Duck & Donuts (oh yeah, they went there) and what they call a WONE BAVARIAN RHAPSODY. An extra-long beer-braised Austrian sausage link stuffed inside a fresh Bavarian pretzel bun.
8. Vermont Lake Monsters
Making the list for the second year in a row is this former Class-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s. Sadly the A’s ended their affiliation with the Lake Monsters. But you can never count Champ, the Lake Monster of Lake Champlain, and his boys out. They have since found new digs in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, where they will continue to groom the next generation of baseball players looking for exposure to MLB scouts. We do hope they find a parent MLB team soon, but until then these college athletes will enjoy playing in Centennial Field, which hosted its first baseball game on July 6, 1904. The cap design is popular among Minor League baseball fans. It could be your new hat for summer 2021, who knows?
7. Savannah Bananas
This is what Minor League baseball is all about! Fun name, fun logo, the mascot, named Split (how great is that?) looks like he could make a guest appearance at the end of a Justice League cartoon where he tells you about the benefits of potassium. It’s all great, all of it! Much like the Lake Monsters before them, the Bananas play in the Coastal Plain League. A wood-bat, collegiate summer league. You can find these Bananas at home at Grayson Stadium. At one point legends such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, and Jackie Robinson all played at this historic stadium as they came up through the minor leagues. It seems like America’s goofiest team is also the hottest ticket in town for a city that loves to party.
Back on the list for a second year as well are the Sod Poodles. We are one year wiser, and we still don’t know what a Sod Poodle is. Still don’t care, still love it! The San Diego Padres have a gem of a branded team in the minor leagues. The Sod Poodles make their bones deep in the heart of Texas in the Double-A Texas League. Potential MLB MVP favorite, Fernando Tatis Jr has donned a Sod Poodles jersey in his career. Be on the lookout Poodles fans because you just may see Tatis Jr on, what we hope would be, a brief rehab assignment In Amarillo and back in a Padres uniform soon.
5. Pensacola Blue Wahoos
We couldn’t keep these fish away from the Top 10 list this year, and why would we want to? There is so much to love here. They are the 2020 Double-A Organization of the Year, previously an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, now with the Miami Marlins (fish gotta stick together). Their games are broadcast on ESPN Radio in Pensacola, their stadium is listed on Airbnb, and they have a logo and hats available for the stadium’s signature ballpark food, Crabzilla. They say it’s “baseball’s most ferocious sandwich-based logo”. Do ya love them yet? You Should!
Chanclas means flip-flop. Flying Chanclas means flying flip-flop. I’m going to pause here for dramatic effect!
This is a temporary rebrand of the San Antonio Mission, the Double-A Affiliate of the San Diego Padres. They first came about in 2018 for Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversión. The name “Flying Chanclas” honors the matriarch of the Latino family, the Abuelita (grandmother).
The Turfs #1 brand of 2020 moves down two spots in 2021 but still remain high on our list. A #1 and #3 ranking and this franchise still have yet to throw out a single pitch. That’s not damn bad! They are the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. Their inaugural season was canceled due to Covid-19, but these Trash Pandas are ready to show the world what they got.
They could have gone with Rocket City Raccoons and no one would have thought any less of them. But had they gone the conventional route they would not have been number one on this list last year. Let’s start by unpacking the name. They call Madison, Alabama home. Located in Madison County is Huntsville, Alabama AKA Rocket City which is the home of NASA’s rocket-propulsion lab. The name was created by and voted on by fans in part because,
“no creature in our galaxy is as smart, creative, determined and ingenious a problem solver – dedicated to the challenge at hand – as our local raccoons!”
Also, the Mascot is a raccoon in a trash can blasting off into space. And we are here for it!
Making their first appearance on the list and debuting at #2 the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets, The Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The mascot (named Rowdy) for this equine inspired team is a horse wearing boxing gloves. You almost don’t need to know anything else to accept them as the #2 brand. They almost made #1, the margin was razor-thin!
Their other logo is a very angry carousel horse!
Named by the fans because “the Rumble Ponies is a herd of fierce horses that no carousel center pole can contain.”
This team WILL NOT be contained by a center pole, or any other team in the Double-A Northeast League.
And NEEEEEEEEEEW Number one brand of 2021. The Hillsboro Hops!
What goes better than beer and baseball? From the name, to the beer selection at the ballpark, to the mascot’s name, “Barley”. The Hops have it going on. Located in the Portland Metropolitan area, the Hops are a High-A West affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The ballpark has some of the best concessions in the country, including a smokehouse along the third base side. You can also enjoy the game with a cold one from several Oregon based breweries. If you plan to make some minor league rounds in the next few years, we recommend adding Hillsboro to your list.
Congrats to the Hillsboro Hops – our 2021 Minor League Baseball Brand of the Year.
This year the Turf considered 33 teams for our Top 10, but we know there are so many more teams out there. If you would like to nominate your favorite Minor League team for consideration please hit us up in the comments, on social media, or on the comments on Reddit, and we will add your team to the pool next year. Who knows, maybe your team will be 2022’s Brand of the Year.
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