News & Politics

A Very Short Guide to the Nats’ Confusing Minor-League Changes

The good news: You can go see a FredNats game!

Photograph of Jersey courtesy of Fredericksburg Nationals.

The Nats are fun to watch, but why should I care about their minor-league teams?

Going to a minor-league game is fun in a different way. The experience is more casual; some fans actually prefer it. The Nationals now have four minor-league teams: the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, the High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, and the Low-A Fredericksburg Nationals.

What happened to the other teams? Wasn’t there one in Hagerstown?

Prior to this season, the Nationals had five minor-league teams, including the Hagerstown Suns, the Fresno Grizzlies, and the Auburn Doubledays. With the reshuffle, the Grizzlies are affiliated with the Colorado Rockies, while the Doubledays are no longer part of the MLB system. The Suns also lost their MLB spot and aren’t in operation.

This “High-A,” “Triple-A” business is where I always start to get confused.

Basically, it describes how close to the big leagues the teams are. Triple-A is the highest level, and these players often move up to join the top squad. Low-A teams are at the bottom of the hierarchy, used primarily to develop young talent. Double-A and High-A teams are in the middle.

Isn’t there a Potomac Nats?

The P-Nats, as the faithful once called them, are actually the previously mentioned Fredericksburg Nationals. The team moved from its home base in Woodbridge following the 2019 season. Owner Art Silber built a $35-million stadium at the Celebrate Virginia complex, where the team will start playing this season. They’re now known as the FredNats.

I don’t have time to follow all of this. Which team should I pay attention to?

Keep an eye on the FredNats, who at the start of this season will likely feature Jackson Rutledge, the Nationals’ most promising young pitcher since Stephen Strasburg. The stadium will initially be operating at 30-percent capacity, so you can actually go see their May 11 home opener in person.

This article appears in the April 2021 issue.