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2021 Rocket City Trash Pandas: Mission Accomplished

Rocket City tops Double-A attendance in Inaugural Season

Posted: Sep 21, 2021 9:29 PM

It took 978 days. But it was worth the wait. The Rocket City Trash Pandas finally took the field for their Inaugural Season in May 2021 after the name was first unveiled in September 2018.

Following an exhilarating 110-game regular season, the most meteoric team in Minor League Baseball launched the game to heights never before seen with an unrivaled fan experience at Toyota Field and a team-first product on the diamond.

“After the canceled 2020 season, it was incredible to see the Trash Pandas take the field for the first time in 2021,” General Manager Garrett Fahrmann said. “We are very grateful for the amazing support of the North Alabama community that powered us to a successful first season, and we can’t wait to do it again in 2022.”

“I was really impressed with the Rocket City fans,” Manager Jay Bell said. “They appreciated what has been done here. I enjoyed meeting a lot of the people here and they were extremely supportive of this team. The people that I’ve met are extremely good people and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I couldn’t have asked for a better summer.”

For the season, the Trash Pandas led all of Double-A with an average home attendance of 5,726 over 48 home openings at Toyota Field. That total also ranks 10th in all of Minor League Baseball, behind only eight Triple-A clubs and the High-A Dayton Dragons.

On the field, Rocket City ended with a 54-56 record to finish third in the Double-A South North Division. Home at Toyota Field, the Trash Pandas posted an impressive 30 wins in 52 games, one of the best records in the league despite having eight home games canceled. Starters Cristopher Molina and Cooper Criswell each tied for seventh in the league with six wins, which led the team.

The Trash Pandas lived up to the Rocket City nickname in 2021, launching 152 home runs to lead Double-A South. Third baseman Mitch Nay led the way with 23, which tied for the Double-A South lead at season’s end. First baseman David MacKinnon led the league with 65 RBI and 30 doubles while ranking among the league leaders in nearly every offensive category. Outfielder Izzy Wilson’s 21 home runs were fourth in the league and 25 stolen bases ranked second as he became the first Trash Pandas hitter to reach the 20/20 plateau.

On the mound, the Trash Pandas pitching staff racked up 1,112 strikeouts to rank second in the league, just two strikeouts behind Montgomery despite playing seven fewer games than the Biscuits. Although he left the Trash Pandas in mid-July, Reid Detmers’ 97 strikeouts led Rocket City and ranked sixth in Double-A South.

Of the 59 players that have represented Rocket City this season, 10 have made their MLB debut for the Los Angeles Angels. Reid Detmers was the first, having started for Rocket City on Opening Day before his MLB debut on August 1. Janson Junk became the first player to go directly from Rocket City to the Angels on September 3. Fellow Opening Day Trash Pandas Cooper Criswell, Oliver Ortega, Jhonathan Diaz, and Kyle Tyler have all made their big-league debuts in the past few weeks.

“I’m thrilled that we’ve had 10 players make it to the big leagues this year from Rocket City, Bell added. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to prepare them so they can meet their ultimate goal.”

Trash Pandas baseball returns in 2022 with the season opener in Birmingham on Friday, April 8 before the home opener at Toyota Field against Pensacola on Tuesday, April 12.

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