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Aviators ready for baseball season after covid-filled last year & league realignment

The Las Vegas Aviators are finally getting back to baseball on Thursday, May 6, against Sacramento 605 days since their last game.

The 2020 minor league baseball season was canceled to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.

When last seen, Aviators were the winners of the PCL Southern Division in 2019 and finished second in the league.

It was the sixth division title and first since 2014.

Manager Fran Riordan was named the PCL Manager of the Year.

However, Vegas lost to the Sacramento River Cats in five games in the PCL semifinals.

The same River Cats they’ll see in the first game of the new season.

Now the Triple-A is split into the East and West for the 2021 season. Essentially, it’s the International League and Pacific Coast League of yester-years.

The East is split into three divisions: Midwest, Northeast, Southeast.

The West has two divisions: East and West.

Las Vegas will reside in the Western division of the Western Conference so to speak.

They will share the division with the Reno Aces, Sacramento River Cats, Salt Lake Bees and Tacoma Rainiers.

Originally, the 120-game season was set to begin in early April, but was pushed back a month.

However, the MiLB reduced in-season travel for teams with better geographical alignment.

Essentially, teams will play a week in-town and a week out-of-town.

The Aviators will play 24 games against the River Cats, Aces and Bees while playing 18 against the Rainiers.

In addition, Vegas will play 12 games against Albuquerque and six games against El Paso, Oklahoma City and Sugar Land.

It is interesting to note, when last seen, the Aviators sported a record of .500 or better against all scheduled opponents for 2021 except for the Sugar Land Skeeters.

The Skeeters are one of two independent teams that have been reassigned to Triple-A. The other is the St. Paul Saints of the East’s Midwest Division.

(The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp were reassigned from Double-A to Triple-A and will play in the East’s Southwest Division).

In terms of roster changes, former Aviator players Seth Brown, Stephen Piscotty, Sean Murphy, Sean Manaea and Jesus Luzardo have moved up and are on the big league roster for the Oakland Athletics.

However, the team lost pillars like Sheldon Neuse (Los Angeles Dodgers), Jorge Mateo (San Diego Padres), Franklin Barreto (Los Angeles Angels), Dustin Fowler (Pittsburgh Pirates), Mark Payton (Cincinnati Reds), Matt Harvey (Baltimore Orioles) and Daniel Mengden (KIA Tigers of the KBO League in South Korea).

As expected, Vegas has loaded up with potential new stars flooding into Las Vegas Ballpark.

Pitchers Domingo Acevedo, Cam Bedrosian and Adam Kolarek are all expected to be on the Opening Day roster for the Aviators.

Acevedo comes from the New York Yankees’ organization while Bedrosian is coming off one season with the Reds after 10 years in the Angel’s organization.

Another fellow Angel is joining Bedrosian in the A’s organization in catcher Carlos Perez.

Kolarek comes into the Vegas clubhouse with a 2020 championship ring from his stint with the Dodgers.

Also, 33-year old Pete Kozma is attempting to make another run to the major leagues after last playing for the Detroit Tigers in 2018.

His run will begin when the team opens the season Thursday, May 6, from the Las Vegas Ballpark against the Sacramento River Cats.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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