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Shrimp Tales: Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp Season Starts April 4

April 3, 2019: Hey, Crustacean Nation! It's time to Play Ball in Jacksonville ... The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp season opens Thursday, April 4, with a five-night homestand against the Jackson Generals at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. 


Team photo taken at Jumbo Shrimp Media Day, April 2, 2019 (photo: Linda Johnson)


The Jumbo Shrimp, Double-A Affiliate of the Miami Marlins, held a Media Day on April 2, where guests stepped on the field with the players to view the team photo, listen to the players talk about the upcoming season, and get a sneak peek at the new menu items. With respect to the team, three words stand out: excitement, chemistry, and speed. 




Jumbo Shrimp players take the field


Manager Kevin Randel addresses the media
(photo: Linda Johnson)
After the formality of the team photo (see above), first-year Manager Kevin Randel addressed the media. Although he takes the lead for the first time, Randel previously spent three seasons as the Jacksonville hitting coach from 2012-2014, and was on the team as a player in 2009. Last year, he led the affiliate Jupiter Hammerheads to a winning season (70-64 overall). "This is a really good opportunity," he said in a statement. "Getting back to Jacksonville is a good place from the past with a couple of championships for me there. We've got a great staff coming, and I'm looking forward to working with all of our young players. On Tuesday, he added that "there's a lot of speed here," and he likes what's "going on with Crustacean Nation." He added that he will "let the players play" and not "over-manage." The Shrimp "have been a buzz" for a few years, he added, and "it's great to be back in Jacksonville. 



Pitcher Jordan Yamamoto expressed excitement "to be part of the rebuild here,"
Pitcher Jordan Yamamoto: excited to be here
(Photo: Linda Johnson)
and stated that he intends to "make the most of it." Adding that this is "a hungry bunch of young guys here," he described the organization as "a great atmosphere."  Yamamoto was acquired by the Marlins by trade with the Milwaukee Brewers in January 2018.  Although he spent some time on the disabled list in 2018, he made seven starts for Jupiter and two starts for Jacksonville. At the end of the season, he pitched six no-hit innings against Mississippi on August 30. 
He begins the 2019 season as the Marlins No. 18 prospect, according to mlb.com.

Outfielder Brian Miller first noted that "this is a speedy team," and that there's even talk among the players about "who's the fastest." (We will have to wait and see about that!)  "It feels like a winning culture, " he said. "There's professionalism in this organization." He commented that he has been "soaking things up" mentally from the veterans on the team and that he has grown mentally. It's all about "knowing yourself and being comfortable with that." He is looking forward to building on his skills, "working on speed and getting stronger." With a "great team chemistry here," it's a "lively clubhouse," he added -- even though he sees himself as "one of the quiet ones."  Miller enters 2019 as the Marlins No. 15 prospect (mlb.com). He was selected by the Marlins in 2017 in the Competitive Balance Round A (36th overall). He throws right-handed, and bats left-handed. 


Brian Miller: "It's a big outfield;" looking to help out
the pitchers with speed
(Photo: Linda Johnson)
With final preparations being made on the field, General Manager Harold Craw, Owner Ken Babby, and Food and Beverage Director/Executive Chef Ernest Hopkins took their turns in front of the assembled group. 



Craw first exclaimed that the organization is "excited to get baseball going" here, and that Jacksonville is a true baseball town. While there will be numerous promotions over the course of the season, many of the popular ones -- Thirsty Thursday and fireworks displays -- will return, and there will be a few new special events, such as "Vice Nights," reminiscent of Miami Vice white-suit attire, and a tribute to the Negro League. The Jumbo Shrimp want "everyone to take part." 


GM Harold Craw
(Photo: Linda Johnson)
Owner Ken Babby is "investing in players" and looks at "player development" as the the key. And, it looks like he's serious: he confirmed that the organization has signed a 20-year lease extension, so they're "gonna be here for a long time." He also is excited for 2019: "it's a young team," and it should come with "great results."


Ken Babby: more excitement here
(Photo: Linda Johnson)
In addition to being hungry for the 2019 season, fans will also be hungry for the new menu items that are being introduced. Chef Ernest Hopkins has created tasty dishes that go beyond standard ballpark fare. 


Talkin' new menu with Chef Hopkins
(Photo: Linda Johnson)

This site taste-tested most of the new items, and all of them are in the thumbs-up category. We're talking Fish N Chips, Batter Up Seafood Platter (coconut shrimp and fish), Steak N Shrimp Bites, Pastrami Burger, Slugger Dog, and, last but definitely not least, the made-for-two Great Hambino pork tenderloin sandwich. It might be tough to decide! Kudos to the Chef and his team: 


Fish N Chips, made with Cod:
Tender fish with a just-right coating
(Photo: Linda Johnson)

Batter Up Seafood Platter: Coconut Shrimp with
Fish N Chips, hush puppies, and slaw.
Or, do the shrimp alone. (Photo: Linda Johnson)

Steak N Shrimp: Juicy, tender shrimp along with
lightly-seasoned steak pieces. (Photo: Linda Johnson)

Pastrami Burger, with sauerkraut (Photo: Linda Johnson)

The Great Hambino: come hungry!
Made for two, it pulls apart.
Lightly coated, tender with light seasonings.
(Photo: Linda Johnson)

The players took the field again for drills, as the sun broke through: 


Time to Play Ball! Opening Night April 4
(Photo: Linda Johnson


Shrimp Season opens at the Baseball Grounds on Thursday, April 4, at 7:05pm. But, you don't have to wait til then for the fun to start. The Jumbo Shrimp host a Street Carnival along A. Philip Randolph Blvd. from 4-6:30pm before the first pitch. The festivities include a rock wall, game truck, face painter, vendors, DJ, and life-size games. The Navy Band Southeast will play the National Anthem during the party. Wanna be on Google? During the 7th-Inning Stretch, be part of the ballpark panorama taken by Google Street View from the pitcher's mound! The first of 22 fireworks displays will light up the night after the game. (Note: Thirsty Thursday will be off for Opening Night, but will return for the next Thursday home game). 

The five-game Opening Homestand continues through Monday. Check the Jumbo Shrimp website for daily promotions. You can even get your hands on one of the Jumbo Shrimp's game-used road gray jerseys, through an online auction taking place throughout the opening series (see the Jumbo Shrimp website). 


Wait til Thursday Night! (Photo: Linda Johnson)


Excitement is in the air at the Baseball Grounds! "Getting back to Jacksonville is great," said Kevin Randel. "Being in the Marlins organization is a great opportunity right now as a minor league baseball player. A lot of these guys need to take advantage of that, especially being at the Double-A level." Something makes us think that these guys are ready for it! 



Don't forget your Shrimp gear!
(photo: Linda Johnson)
Fun facts: Last year's attendance was 317,335. Over the 16 years in Jacksonville, the team has drawn 5,393,098 in attendance (including pre-"Jumbo Shrimp" days as the "Suns"). The stadium can seat over 11,000 fans, with reserved seating, bleachers, and grass berms; it features 6,042 stadium seats. It has the largest roof of any open-air facility in the minor leagues, and it claims the longest distance between home plate and center field in the Southern League at 420 feet.





Getting in the swing of things.... 


Looking forward to those PNC Bank Club seats on Opening Night!

Go, Shrimp! 

The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp provide plenty of "affordable. family. fun." as they say.  There's not a bad seat in the house!  See you on Opening Night! Thanks to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp for hosting an awesome afternoon! 

Til next time, 













Linda
Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone ®

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