Only 10 home games remain on the Augusta GreenJackets schedule, and they’ve packed the calendar with events to make fans’ final visits to Lake Olmstead Stadium memorable ones.
The countdown to Lake Olmstead’s final game is nearly in the single digits. The GreenJackets will send off the stadium with a farewell night Sept. 4 against Charleston at 7:05 p.m. The night will include fireworks and special events to recognize the ballpark before the team moves to North Augusta for 2018.
Before the final game, the GreenJackets are giving fans multiple chances to leave the stadium with memorabilia. The first is Aug. 25 against Greenville when they’ll give away Jon Lester bobbleheads to the first 1,000 fans. Lester was a GreenJacket in 2003 and has won three World Series titles.
After fireworks on Aug. 26, the GreenJackets will give away posters Aug. 27 and hold a pre-game autograph session. The final home series kicks off Sept. 1 to begin fan appreciation weekend. On Sept. 2, they’ll give away T-shirts to the first 1,000 fans and hold their military jersey auction.
Augusta has improved upon its rough first half but is still well outside division contention. The GreenJackets entered the weekend at 21-26, 8 1/2 games behind Charleston in the South Atlantic League’s Southern Division. They entered with six wins in their past 10 games but continue to spin their wheels while running out of time on the schedule.
Left-hander Domenic Mazza has been a consistent bright spot for Augusta this season, recording a 3.17 ERA with 93 strikeouts to only 17 walks in 113 2/3 innings. Melvin Adon, Stephen Woods and Garrett Williams have also helped produce a stable rotation throughout the year, while Patrick Ruotolo has been one of the best relievers in the league.
The offense has been unable to match the pitching staff, but there have been a couple bright spots. Cristian Paulino returned to Augusta and has produced a .271 average with 28 stolen bases in 57 games, while Sandro Fabian and Kelvin Beltre have provided moments of excitement as young prospects.
NOTE: The recent promotion of Atlanta Braves prospect Ozzie Albies, who was born in 1997, has drawn a share of jokes about people’s ages. The latest comes from MiLB.com, which listed the youngest top prospects currently in the minors to make everyone feel old.
Albies became the first player born in 1997 to reach the major leagues, but plenty who are younger are right behind him. One notable name is Bo Bichette, son of Dante. Bo Bichette, born in 1998, is hitting .374 with 11 home runs and 19 stolen bases for Class-A Advanced Dunedin.
Bichette’s Dunedin teammate, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., is another name to remember within the Toronto Blue Jays system. Son of the former slugger, Guerrero is himself a potential power hitter, currently hitting .310 with 26 doubles and eight home runs as an 18-year-old born in 1999.
Finally, one of the Braves’ top prospects, Kevin Maitan, gives us all a reality check by being born in 2000. He was the top international prospect before signing with Atlanta in 2016 and is currently playing for Rookie-level Danville as a 17-year-old.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216