One of the more underappreciated traditions of spring training is the annual exhibitions between major league teams and their minor league affiliates. As the teams head north for the year, these games mark something of a warmup for both MLB squads and their affiliates, while simultaneously giving minor-league fans an early start to the year.
This year is no exception, as the 2017 spring-training slate features some notable MLB vs. MiLB matchups to watch.
A team that is very active on the MLB vs. MiLB exhibition front is the Cincinnati Reds. On March 25 and 26, the Reds head to Las Vegas to face the Chicago Cubs at Cashman Field. These matchups will represent the 2017 installment of the Cubs’ annual visits to Cashman Field, home to the Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). The 51s are an affiliate of the New York Mets.
For fans in the Cincinnati area, the Reds will be playing a pair of games a bit closer to home at the end of spring training. The first of those contests is scheduled for March 31, when the Reds head to Louisville Slugger Field to face the Louisville Bats (Class AAA; International League).
The day after their matchup against their longtime affiliate, the Reds will head to Fifth Third in Dayton to face the Reds Futures Team, a squad that consists of some of the organization’s top prospects. It will be the first time since 2009 that the Futures Game has been played in Dayton, which is home to the Dayton Dragons (Low A; Midwest League).
Another club will multiple MiLB matchups on its schedule is the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals’ first minor league exhibition will send them to Memphis, where they will take on the Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) at AutoZone Park on March 30. On March 31, the Cardinals will head back to their home state and take on the Springfield Cardinals (Class AA; Texas League) in a contest at Hammons Field.
In a twist on the usual scheduling format, the Minnesota Twins will face one of their affiliates at a neutral site. The Rochester Red Wings (Class AAA; International League)and Twins will meet at the end of their Florida slates on March 31, when the Twins host the Red Wings at the CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers.
As the Baltimore Orioles make their way north, they will stop at Harbor Park to face the Norfolk Tides (Class AAA; International League). That contest is scheduled for March 31, and will mark the Orioles’ final exhibition of the spring.
With these games on the docket, it gives fans and both the majors and minors plenty to look forward to this spring.