The Fresno Grizzlies are celebrating the launch of their third decade downtown with new sights and sounds.
The team is in the final steps of installing a 2,000 square-foot scoreboard, replacing a 12-year old model. There are also new lights and speakers throughout Chukchansi Park.
The team spent $2.3 million on the upgrades for the 21-year-old park.
Fresno opens its 66-game home schedule on Friday at 6:50 p.m. versus Stockton.
Watch: New Stadium Features, What Top Pick Hopes to Accomplish
The Grizzlies are also in a new league and classification of minor league baseball. Technically, it’s a new name for the same thing.
Last year, the Grizzlies played in an alignment dubbed Low A West. The league and group of teams are the same in 2022, but the name is back to its original 1941 monicker, California League. And, the classification is now called A rather than Low A. But it’s still the lowest rung of the ladder.
Top Draft Pick on Roster
The most-anticipated player this season is outfielder Benny Montgomery, the Colorado Rockies’ first-round draft choice and the eighth overall pick in 2021.
Last year, the 19-year-old Montgomery was a high school star in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania (near Harrisburg). Today, he is the Rockies’ No. 3 prospect — behind last year’s Grizzlies stars Zac Veen and Drew Romo.
Being away from home is the biggest difference in a year, Montgomery says. He spent last year playing at the Rockies Arizona Complex League team.
“You’re so used to growing up, being with your parents, being at your house, being around everybody you know, knowing the area. Last year, after being drafted, that was a big learning curve, figuring out how to kind of get back to normal and learn how to live life by yourself,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery is expected to play the entire season in Fresno. While players normally live in apartments during the season, Montgomery will stay in a local hotel.
A Rockies scouting report describes the star prospect as “(he) can do a lot of things well, albeit in somewhat unorthodox fashion.”
Montgomery wants to work on patience at the plate while in Fresno.
“I want to see as many pitches as I can and do the most damage I can with them,” he said.
The Rockies signed Montgomery last year for $5 million. How did he spend some of that money?
“First things first, I bought a truck with the money I got — a black GMC truck. It’s awesome. I love it. I (bought) some other stupid things at the Scottsdale Mall here and there. But other than that, it’s pretty normal,” Montgomery said.
Now in Fresno, there is something that Montgomery looks forward to.
“I heard that they have really good tacos,” he said.
He also won’t mind the 100-degree summers.
“It’s better than 35 and raining,” Montgomery said.
Fans will notice the new scoreboard, with more than 2.1 million LED lamps.
“We have the ability to not only put in better quality shots with eight HD cameras, but also it’s a chance for us to put in live stats and also some really cool new graphics for our partners and our fans to enjoy,” Grizzlies spokesman Stephen Rice said.
New stadium lights, replacing the originals from 2002, will do more than illuminate the field.
“When there’s a home run, you can see flashing lights, you’ll see different colors, but also to it saves a lot of energy for us, and that’s something that we’re really big about,” Rice said.
The sound system features 125 new speakers around the park.