Last night the Las Vegas 51′s opened up their season in Sacramento with a 10-5 victory. I follow the Mets’ minor league system very closely, and I check the box scores of every affiliate each morning. However, last night I did something that normally I would not do. Despite the late start time, I ended up listening to the radio broadcast of the 51′s game in its entirety.
My original plan was just to catch the first few innings of Zack Wheeler’s Pacific Coast League debut, but I ended up staying awake for the whole game. First of all, the Las Vegas 51′s radio broadcaster Russ Langer is phenomenal. Langer calls the game by himself, and his style of doing so is comparable to Dodger’s caster Vin Scully. Langer has won several Minor League Broadcaster of the Year awards, and he has experience calling MLB games as well. From listening to one game, I learned more about the players and the 51′s franchise than I could have through independent research. The way Russ Langer seamlessly flows the play by play calling along with narrative anecdotes is perfect. You should really listen to at least a few innings tonight after the Mets’ game, as the Las Vegas 51′s website has all radio broadcasts available free of charge. If you want to listen on a mobile device, download the MILB.com app, as every minor league radio cast AA and up is available through it, also free of charge. I promise you will not be disappointed with Russ Langer and the 51′s.
In terms of the roster, this 51′s team has a strong chance to compete this season. As of right now, the starting rotation is tentatively Zack Wheeler, Chris Schwinden, Colin McHugh, Darin Gorski and Carlos Torres. All of these guys are more than capable to succeed at the AAA level, even through the PCL is a hitter friendly league. The hitters on the roster include a solid mix of prospects and veterans. Last night catcher Travis d’Arnaud and second basemen Wilmer Flores batted 3rd and 4th, and they led Las Vegas to their first victory. Veterans with MLB service time like Josh Satin, Andrew Brown, Omar Quintanilla and Zach Lutz are all great AAA hitters. This lineup is much better than the lineup at AAA Buffalo last season. Sacramento is historically one of the better teams in the PCL, and Las Vegas beat them up yesterday.
I don’t know about you, but when I watch the Mets, I get pretty upset about the mishaps and errors of the game. In contrast, AAA baseball is low stress, low worry baseball. In the grand scheme of things, the overall record of the AAA farm team does not matter, because what is really important is that the prospects develop. Listening to the 51′s is a nice way to relax after the almost always stressful Mets games. Last night there were numerous fans on Twitter following and tweeting about the game, and I expect that trend to continue. Overall, even following the Las Vegas 51′s casually is a worthwhile experience for any Mets fan.
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