This is a departure from the norm as it doesn't have anything to do with the Braves, but the Savannah Sand Gnats open their season tomorrow night with a Thirsty Thursday game against the West Virginia Power at Historic Grayson Stadium. First pitch is at 7:05, and yes, Thirsty Thursday is half-price draft beer (or Coke/soda if you choose not to imbibe). Also, admission is free tonight at 7:05 as the Gnats will play an abbreviated exhibition game against SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design).
If you are outside of the Savannah area, the Gnats are the South Atlantic League (low A) affiliate of the New York Mets, and before you make any Mets jokes, I should tell you that I am employed by the Gnats as their P.A. announcer. So if any members of management are reading, those horrible things written about the Metropolitans with my name attached were actually written by someone else.
Being a Braves fan, it is fun to observe the future competition every day. The Sand Gnats opening day roster includes some of the Mets' top prospects, including shortstop Wilmer Flores, who played in the Futures Game last year, and third baseman Jefry Marte. Both are only 18, and both played all last season in Savannah. Flores didn't hit a lot in '09 but showed very good range at shortstop, though some project him to be a second baseman or outfielder by the time he reaches the majors. Marte struggled mightily on both sides of the ball. He hit a little better in the second half, but was on pace to set a single season league record for errors before his year ended early with a hand injury. Given their ages, the Mets have a lot of time to develop both men.
Also high on the prospect list are outfielder Cesar Puello, who seems to have a lot of talent but not a lot of patience at the plate yet, right-hander Armando Rodriguez, who will be the Gnats' opening night starter, and righty Brandon Moore, who pitched a no-hitter for the short-season Brooklyn Cyclones in 2009.
I will report on America's Team's prospects when the Rome Braves come to Savannah May 12-15, but I will also write occasionally about the Sand Gnats during the season, including all the goofy stuff that makes minor league baseball so wonderful. If you make a trip to Savannah, come say hello or, if you think I am crazy for believing more in Nate McLouth than Melky Cabrera, how much of a dolt I am.
Also, if you don't know much about SCAD, don't wonder aloud what a bunch of Project Runway wannabes are doing on the baseball field. SCAD is one of the best schools of the arts - all the arts - in the world. They also happen to have one of the top sports programs at the NAIA level, and their lacrosse teams could kick all our butts with their shafts tied behind their backs, so I am definitely down with SCAD.