It must be summer on the Jersey Shore as the Lakewood BlueClaws, the South Atlantic League Affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, kick off another season at FirstEngergy Park this week.
When they do return to Lakewood the team figures to have plenty of exciting potential stars on the roster right off the bat. That includes eight players who have been picked in the first 10 rounds of recent MLB drafts. There also are four of the best players among Baseball America's top 30 Phillies prospects.
Leading that group figures to be Maikel Franco, the number 10 prospect according to Baseball America. The third baseman played with Williamsport last year when he hit .287 with just two home runs while also adding 38 RBI.
The BlueClaws will also have a new skipper as Phillies fan favorite Mickey Morandini got promoted from Williamsport, as well. He guided that team to a 43-33 record in his first year leading a squad last year.
For more information on the the team check out their website.
The Claws have gotten a few games under their belt on the road but will be coming returning for their home opener on Thursday night. The game will be the first of four against the Hagerstown Suns. As with all BlueClaws action there will be plenty of promotions to go with exciting baseball action.
That includes the first fireworks display of the season, which is scheduled for Friday night. Between the last game against Hagerstown on Sunday and the first game of a three-game series against the Greensboro Grasshoppers fans will have the chance to bring home schedule cups and schedule magnets.
After the seven-game homestand the team will head back on the road before returning to take on the Asheville Tourists April 24.
As the season goes on the BlueClaws figure to bring plenty of excitement to the park off the field. On April 26 former big league pitcher and broadcaster Jim Kaat is scheduled to come to town to meet the fans and sign autographs. The BlueClaws are also scheduled to bring Doc Gooden to town for autographs on June 30.
Not only will the Phillie Phanatic also be returning to Lakewood but there is also scheduled to be a special appearance by former professional wrestler Bret "The Hitman" Hart on June 16.
The full list of promotions scheduled so far for the year, including Thirsty Thursdays, kids eat free games and more fireworks displays, can be found here.
Patch will have weekly updates on the Claws and any upcoming games and promotions.