Dating all the way back to May 15, 1994 when right-handed pitcher Jon Lieber started for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Blue Rocks have seen players from every position, who developed their talent here in Wilmington, play in the big leagues. At the close of the 2022 regular season, 210 former
Dating all the way back to May 15, 1994 when right-handed pitcher Jon Lieber started for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Blue Rocks have seen players from every position, who developed their talent here in Wilmington, play in the big leagues. At the close of the 2022 regular season, 210 former Blue Rocks have made their Major League debut.
Names like Carlos Beltran, Mike Sweeney, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Zack Greinke, just to name a few, all once wore the Blue Rocks jersey.
“It is amazing,” Blue Rocks public address announcer and Director of Community Affairs Kevin Linton said. “Those are some of the bigger names that we’ve had and looking back on our history, they kind of set the tone for the success that the Blue Rocks have had with developing future major league stars.”
Linton, who has been with the organization since 2001, has seen many of those 210 players on the field in Wilmington at one point.
“As you fast forward, you see a lot of guys come up and over the years we have seen some great players,” Linton said. “Some guys who surprise you and some guys who you know are going to be genuinely good major league baseball players.”
One of the Blue Rocks teams that had a lot of players go to the MLB was the 2009 team. From that team, 11 players made the big leagues, five of them who would be on the 2015 World Series winning Kansas City Royals.
“The 2009 season was supposed to be a Carolina League champion,” Linton said. “We were loaded, we had guys like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Danny Duffy, and Clint Robinson was on that team. There were a bunch of future big leaguers on that squad, that we kind of knew that was a special team, and that was kind of the nucleus that went on to win that World Series championship in 2015 for the Royals.”
The milestone 200th "Rock to the Show" came on the final game of the 2021 regular season when the Washington Nationals called up right-hander Joan Adon. Throughout the 2022 season, Wilmington saw nine more familiar faces make their debut, before catcher Israel Pineda became the 210th Blue Rocks debut when call from the Nationals came. Pineda caught 58 games for the 'Rocks in 2021 and 52 games in 2022 before rising through AA and AAA all before the end of the 2022 campaign.
Click HERE to see the full list of Rocks to the Show!