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Professional baseball in Lakewood was put on hold last summer as the country dealt with the COVID-19 Pandemic and when the BlueClaws returned for 2021, they did so with a new name.

This weekend, the organization and Philadelpia Phillies affiliate now known as the Jersey Shore BlueClaws will celebrate its final home series of the comeback season for Minor League Baseball.

The BlueClaws will welcome in Pittsburgh Pirates High-A affiliate Greensboro in for the long weekend, beginning with Thursday night's opener. The series is a draw for casual fans and baseball junkies alike, with the BlueClaws offering fireworks following each of the games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as part of Locals' Weekend.

On Friday, the BlueClaws will welcome a special guest as Todd Frazier will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Frazier represented the U.S. in the Summer Olympics, with the boys in red, white and blue bringing home a silver medal. Frazier began the year with the Pirates and his family name was back in the Little League realm when nephew, Carson Frazier, helped lead Toms River East to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

For the more hardcore baseball fan who likes to delve into the prospect lists of each MLB team, the Pirates system boasts a bevy of promising young players - some of whom will be in Lakewood on Thursday.

The headliner on the Greensboro Grasshoppers roster is catcher and 2021 No. 1 overall draft pick Henry Davis, who began his pro career on a tear at the plate, including hitting .375 with two homers in six games at Greensboro. Unfortunately for Davis - and any Jersey Shore locals hoping to get a look at him - he is currently on the Injured List with an oblique injury.

Davis is one of five Pirates top 10 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, on the Greensboro roster and is the highest-ranked at No. 1. No. 2 prospect Quinn Priester - a 6-foot-3, hard-throwing, right-handed pitcher - is also on the Grasshoppers but not scheduled to pitch in the series after throwing four innings on Wednesday against the BlueClaws in Greensboro.

Greensboro will open the series with right-hander Carmen Mlodzinski, the 31st overall pick in the 2020 Draft. The University of South Carolina product is 2-3 with a 3.28 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 19 walks in 49 1/3 innings for Greensboro in 2021 and is currently the No. 10 prospect in the organization, according the

Middle infielders Nick Gonzales and Liover Peguero are also highly-rated prospects on the Grasshoppers roster. Gonzales is a second baseman who was selected No. 7 overall in 2020 out of New Mexico State and is hitting .303/.375/.572 with 17 home runs in 72 games at High-A during his first season of pro ball. Gonzales is ranked No. 4 by

Peguero, meanwhile, plays shortstop and is the Pirates' No. 5 prospect, according to In his first full year in the organization since being acquired from Arizona  in a deal that landed the Diamondbacks Starling Marte, Peguero is hitting .272/.333/.461 with 14 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 81 games.

The BlueClaws will counter with their own trio of Top 10 prospects within the Phillies organization, although hard-throwing left-hander and No. 10 prospect Erik Miller is currently on the 7-day Injured List. Outfielder Johan Rojas (No. 6) and shortstop Luis Garcia (No. 8), however, are active and will look to finish the season strong after both were called up from Single-A Clearwater at the beginning of the month.

Saturday's pregame ceremonies will feature an on-field walk to commemorate the fallen Twin Towers and give participants the opportunity to honor specific victims or first responders.

Sunday will be Fan Appreciation Day, which includes an on-field, postgame fan photo.

For the adult baseball fans in the area, Thursday night's game also marks the final "Thirsty Thursday" promotion, which offers $2 cans and drafts of Coors Light.

Friday night's game will also be the host of a school supply drive run by BlueClaws Charities, with all fans who donate supplies receiving two free tickets to the BlueClaws 2022 Opening Day at FirstEnergy Park.


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