Fans' Guide to MiLB Opening Day

A step-by-step primer for the start of the 2024 Minor League season

April 5th, 2024

Triple-A Opening Day arrived across the country -- from Syracuse to Sacramento and many stops in between -- last Friday. Now the Double-A, High-A and Single-A levels will begin play. In other words, the season is in full swing.

As is tradition around these parts, let’s get you ready for the 2024 campaign to begin with help across MLB and MiLB platforms. Some great places to start are the MLB Pipeline prospect rankings, noting the Top 100 overall best young talents in the game as well as the Top 30 in each farm system. You can also delve into our Farm System Rankings to see which organizations are the most loaded headed into the season.

For more reading, check out the Minor League Ballpark Guides, and envision what it’d be like to visit all 119 Minor League stadiums. Research your next road trip. Plan your bucket-list vacation. Discover the best of the best nearby. The Ballpark Guides provide the most comprehensive coverage of Minor League venues you’ll find anywhere. For more in your inbox each week, be sure to subscribe to the Ben’s Biz Beat newsletter.

For your listening pleasure, subscribe to and download The Show Before the Show, the official podcast of Minor League Baseball. Every week, Benjamin Hill, Sam Dykstra and Tyler Maun discuss the biggest MiLB news from on and off the field and bring on guests from across the Minor League spectrum to deepen your knowledge of affiliated ball. Don’t miss Josh Jackson’s Ghosts of the Minors segments either for your comedic look at the past.

While you listen, visit the MiLB Store to make sure your wardrobe is ready for the 2024 season with jerseys, on-field caps and so much more gear. Need some help? Here are some of the best new hats coming to the Minors this summer.

Finally, let’s get you situated to watch this year’s MiLB.TV action with an At Bat subscription. Thousands upon thousands of Minor League games are streamed live, including all games at the Triple-A and Double-A levels, and you can watch on the go with the MiLB app for iOS and Android devices.

That should be enough to get you started before first pitch. But what of the games themselves? Below is a handy guide of what to follow and when to follow it during our second 2024 Minor League Opening Day. But first, our two favorite words:

Play ball!

Friday, April 5

Fort Wayne @ Great Lakes, 6:05 p.m. ET: Padres top prospect Ethan Salas gets the High-A season going as his TinCaps take on the Loons in Midland, Mich. The 17-year-old backstop played nine games for Fort Wayne before zooming to Double-A San Antonio in his first full season, and he returns to the Midwest League for a longer look this spring. Salas’ advanced defense behind the plate would be a fit at any Minor League level, and he’ll look to tap even more into his plus power with more physical maturation.

Salas and his fellow TinCaps could have their hands full on Opening Day, however. Dodgers No. 8 prospect Jackson Ferris is set to make his Los Angeles organization debut with Great Lakes on Friday after coming over from the Cubs in the offseason Michael Busch swap. The 20-year-old southpaw has a pair of plus pitches in his fastball and curveball, and his sweeping slider draws strong reviews too. It’s a National League West preview in the middle of the country.

Winston-Salem @ Asheville, 6:35 p.m. ET: Have you ever set foot in a 100-year-old ballpark? Anyone attending a High-A Asheville game this season can say that they have, as the Tourists' home of McCormick Field marks its centennial season. There's always a lot to celebrate when it comes to this scenic ballpark, which is situated on a small patch of ground amid one of Asheville's many hills. Babe Ruth once called it “a beautiful place to play” and that assessment still holds. The Tourists kick off McCormick's milestone season with a tilt against fellow North Carolinians, the Winston-Salem Dash.

Hickory @ Rome, 7 p.m. ET: Rome, Georgia, like its Italian counterpart, was built within seven hills and the rivers that run between them. In the offseason, the city’s baseball team further solidified the connection, changing its name from the Braves to the Emperors (the Atlanta affiliation remains). The primary logo features an emperor penguin decked out in the regalia of a Roman emperor, and now fans will have their first opportunity to see the new look in action. The Emperors' era begins with a home contest against the Hickory Crawdads.

Lynchburg @ Down East, 7 p.m. ET: This game marks Grainger Stadium’s final home opener. In 2025, the team currently known as the Down East Wood Ducks will relocate to Spartanburg, S.C. This charming ballpark, located in the small town of Kinston, N.C., opened in 1949 and has hosted a variety of Minor League teams through the years. The Wood Ducks, the Single-A affiliate of the Rangers, arrived on the scene in 2017. Grainger Stadium’s future after this season is unclear, but it won’t include Minor League Baseball.

Rocket City @ Tennessee, 7 p.m. ET: Also of note in the final home opener category is this contest at Smokies Stadium, home of the Tennessee Smokies. In 2025, the Smokies -- the Double-A affiliate of the Cubs -- will move to Knoxville, Tennessee, where the franchise was based through 1999. Smokies Stadium is located in nearby Kodak, in close proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (hence the team name).

Erie @ Harrisburg, 7 p.m. ET: The Nationals are sending 2023 No. 2 overall pick Dylan Crews (MLB's No. 7 overall prospect) to Double-A to begin his first full season, and it might not take him long to bang down the door to Triple-A and the Majors. Last year’s Golden Spikes Award winner has the potential to be a plus-plus hitter with above-average power, and with James Wood (WSH No. 2) in Triple-A Rochester, Crews can focus on getting reps at his natural spot in center field. Third-ranked Nats prospect Brady House (MLB's No. 46) brings additional thump to the Senators side.

Montgomery @ Biloxi, 7:35 p.m. ET: Biloxi’s MGM Park, home of the Shuckers since 2015, received a major upgrade for prior to the season: The right-field berm area has been transformed into what the team calls a “beach paradise,” and it’s open to all fans. A boardwalk, tiki bar, splash pad and beach chairs are all in the mix, adding an appropriately aquatic feel to the Gulf Coast ballpark.

No. 2 Brewers prospect Jacob Misiorowski (MLB No. 32) is scheduled to start Opening Day for the Shuckers. The 6-foot-7 right-hander has some of the most electric stuff in the Minors with an upper-90s fastball and plus-plus slider, and if he can keep his control relatively in check, he could put up some videogame strikeout totals in his return to the Southern League.

Modesto @ Stockton, 10:05 p.m. ET: There are three games beginning in the 10 p.m. ET window, two in the California League and one in the Northwest. Take your pick, but we might recommend this matchup in Stockton with No. 83 overall prospect Colt Emerson expected to return to the Modesto lineup. Last year’s 22nd overall pick has become one of the game’s biggest popup names after he batted .374 with 12 extra-base hits, 17 walks and eight steals in 24 games between Single-A and the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League after the Draft. The left-handed slugger has a bat that could move quickly through the Seattle system, so his stay with the Nuts might be a short one. Catch him while you can.

And after that, another Opening Day (or two) in Minor League Baseball will be in the books. But guess what? Baseball is on the agenda for the entire summer. This is just the beginning. Catch you at the ballpark.