Tag Archives: Texas AirHogs

The Texas (Chinese) AirHogs


Last season, the Texas AirHogs were the last place team in the American Association (except for the Salina – Pecos owned – travel team). This year, the team is going to have a MUCH different look.

The AirHogs are going to be used as the training ground for the Chinese National team (known as the Beijing Shougang Eagles) and have even been granted roster exemptions for the 2018 season. The team is using this experience (the first time a national team has played professional baseball in the United States) to prepare for the 2020 olympic games and beyond.

30 members of the Chinese National team will be in Texas, with 13 of them on the active roster each night. The AirHogs will then be able to swap up to seven players each night. Roster rules for adding/releasing players will not apply here.

This definitely gives the AirHogs an advantage as they will essentially have a fresh team every day. In the middle of a season with so many straight games, double headers and long travel, this is going to be an advantage that every team in the American Association is going to wish that they had.

AirHogs manager John McLaren, who has also managed the Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals, led Team China in the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classic. He is familiar with the players and how best to work the roster to his advantage.

The addition of the Chinese National team is also going to completely change how the team plays on the field as well. As the American Association Daily pointed out, baseball in Asia usually focuses on basic fundamentals including bunting and hitting to move runners over. Home runs aren’t nearly as expected as they are here in America.

This tactic is one that is primarly used with another American Association team, the Gary SouthShore RailCats. The RailCats have been consistently one of the top teams in the league year in and year out while adopting this small-ball mentality. It appears as though they’re going to have some stiff competition now from a team that, for the most part, has been playing this way with each other for many years.

The addition of the Chinese National team will surely make the American Association interesting to watch this year. Not only will it bring media attention, but it may end up changing the entire dynamic of the league.

The team, now often called The AirHogs – powered by Beijing Shougang Eagles, starts their season tonight (5/18) at home against the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks.

Read the team’s official press release about this agreement HERE.


What New Teams Can We See In 2017?

It is well known that independent baseball is always changing. Leagues often move their teams from city to city for a variety of reasons: financial, attendance, expansion, etc.

We are now in the midst of the baseball off season – a time when a lot of news and rumors begin to formulate about the next playing season.

Right now, it appears as though there will be new teams in the American Association, United Shore Professional Baseball League, Pecos League, and Empire League.

New to the American Association will be the Cleburne Railroaders. The Railroaders will play at The Depot, a stadium/community event center that is currently being constructed. Cleburne, a city in the  greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, will take the place of the Joplin Blasters for the 2017 season. The Blasters are out of the American Association after their ownership was sued by Joplin for $12 million for a breach of contract and fraud.

After a great inaugural season, the United Shore Professional Baseball League is also looking to add a fourth team for the 2017 season. That team will also play at Jimmy John’s Field, home of the other three teams;  However, 2017 may be the last season that all teams in the league play in the same stadium. Owner, Andy Appleby, is looking to expand the USPBL to the midwest in 2018 and beyond.

The Pecos League has announced that they will bring a team to Amarillo next year. The Amarillo Lone Stars, who are taking the place of the Topeka Train Robbers, will play their games at Potter County Memorial Stadium which was last used by the Texas AirHogs in the American Association this season. The AirHogs will be moving to Grand Prairie for the entire 2017 season.

And finally, the Empire League is looking to move forward as well. After a rocky and controversial season, the mistakes just seem to keep happening. Earlier this month, the league posted a press release announcing a new team in Plattsburgh, but they quickly took the story down when they realized it was “inadvertently posted.” While there have been discussions between the league and the city, nothing is official just yet.

Last month, the Empire League also announced that there will be a franchise in Puerto Rico for the 2017 season.  Their goal is to have the team play their home games in Puerto Rico and all other teams would travel there to play as visitors.  Since nothing is finalized and the league doesn’t seem to know exactly what they will do and where they will be in Puerto Rico, that team is supposed to play all of their games on the road until the details are straightened out.

The league will also be welcoming MLB player, Matt Joyce, as an owner.  Even though he plays major league baseball, don’t expect that to translate to more money for the league’s players.

“Just because im involved doesnt mean players make more money or the league has high funding. We still rely on sponsors and advertising to fund our operations, but I bring a new level of networks at the Major League level to help bring in better sponsors and advertising partners to help execute a good league. I also bring my direct scouting and MLB recruiting networks to make the Empire league an elite developmental program that will also have players ready to play affiliated ball.” said Matt Joyce.
“The Empire League may always be a low budget league” said Eddie Gonzalez, “but with extremely high value. Players on this league should be nothing but grateful and appreciate the opportunity we provide to play ball at a pro considered level. If not they would be back at home doing nothing. Our League is not a League to make a living, its simply that last resort chance to show MLB that they truly belong.”


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