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Park factors for the Rockies new minor league affiliates of New Britain and Boise

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In a flurry of affiliate moves, the Rockies will be changing Double-A and Short-Season stadiums. Both locations are older and one place profiles for hitters while the other towards pitchers.

Jason Aquino won't be giving up cheap home runs in New Britain next year.
Jason Aquino won't be giving up cheap home runs in New Britain next year.
Charlie Drysdale

With the move of their Double-A franchise from Tulsa to New Britain, the Rockies will be leaving behind one of the newest and best venues in minor league baseball. Tulsa's ONEOK Field was opened in 2010 for a cost of $39.2 million. Comparatively, New Britain Stadium is 14 years older and built for around $10 million.

One of the benefits of New Britain, is that Rockies prospects will no longer have the short porch in right field to deal with. The outfield irregularity stands just 307 feet away from home plate at a height of just four feet. This outfield design leads to cheap home runs and inflated left-handed pull hitters power numbers. Tim Wheeler's 2011 season stands out as an example, when he hit 33 home runs and 21 at home. In his five seasons outside of Tulsa, Wheeler has combined for just 35 home runs.

Park Effects Avg from 2011-13


Runs

Hits

2B

HR

Tulsa

100

98

96

114

New Britain

98

100

104

89

Playing in New Britain provides Rockies prospects with a more balanced home park. While Tulsa was fairly average in every other aspect of hitting, it put up an outlier of a number when it came to home runs. In contrast, New Britain is much tougher to leave the park, ranking as one of the most difficult in the Eastern League and overall leans towards being a pitcher-friendly venue.

Tulsa was home to one of the most beautiful sightlines in minor league baseball and personally I'll be sad to see it go. The Rockies new Double-A home will take some getting used to, but at least it will help normalize power numbers by reducing cheap home runs that hitters were taking advantage of in Tulsa. New Britain also broadcasts its games on MiLB.tv, so fans that enjoy following Rockies prospects will still have access to players in this manner.

Boise profiles has a hitters park

In an ironic parallel to the current Rockies sequence of events, the team of Boise originally moved from Tri-Cities to its present location in 1986. Constructed in 1989, Memorial Stadium was built at a cost of $2.3 million and is five years older than Gesa Stadium in Tri-Cities.

Memorial Stadium once shared a venue with the Western Idaho Fairgrounds causing the team to play on the road for an extended period of time in August. Scheduling has since improved since and the road warrior mentality hasn't been a requirement in recent seasons.

Sitting at an elevation of 2,730 feet, Boise is one of the better hitting environments in the Northwestern League. Not only is Boise 2,400 feet higher than Tri-Cities, but it also has lower humidity. The Idaho town is fairly dry and has a humidity level that sits somewhere between Las Vegas and Albuquerque.

Park Effects Avg from 2011-13

Runs

Hits

XBH

HR

Boise

107

106

100

103

Tri-City

92

95

97

81

Rockies prospects will enjoy hitting in their new home of Boise, where the elevation and dryer climate helps the ball to fly further than in Washington. The other factor that they won't have to deal with is the wind. Their former home of Gesa Stadium faces south and prevalent winds tend to blow in on a hitter and keeping balls in the park.

"You have the wind blowing right into your face as a left handed hitter," said Rockies prospect Dillon Thomas on the frustrations of Gesa Stadium. "Hitting a ball out to right is next to impossible there. I saw so many ball hit well by guys that you thought were going to be gappers that got held up in the wind and ran down."

Unfortunately Boise doesn't broadcast its games on MiLB.tv, so fans trying to follow the new team won't have any more access than when the team was in Tri-Cities. Trying to find video of players in the Northwest League in general is like trying to make a bigfoot sighting. Rockies prospects will begin playing in New Britain and Boise in the summer of 2015.