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The Carolina League is a minor league baseball affiliation which operates in the South Atlantic region of the United Statesmarker. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High A" league, indicating its status as a Class A league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth step between Rookie ball and the major leagues. Although Minor League Baseball, the umbrella organization for minor leagues that are affiliated with Major League Baseball, has eliminated the distinction between High-A and other full-season A leagues, most major-league teams still use such leagues as a standard promotion step. A few draftees, generally those taken in the early rounds of the draft and those with significant college experience, will be assigned to a High-A team upon signing a professional contract, but most players do not reach the High-A level until their third or fourth year of professional play.

The organization that later became the Carolina League formed in 1945, just as World War II was ending, and consisted of only two teams based in southern Virginiamarker. Historically, however, as many as 12 teams in a given year have competed for the Carolina League pennant, and most of the league's teams have represented towns and cities in North Carolinamarker. Today, the league consists of eight teams in a region stretching from Delawaremarker to South Carolinamarker, and is divided into a Northern Division and a Southern Division. The division champions from the first half and second half of each season compete in a best-of-five divisional playoff, with the winners advancing to the best-of-five league championship, the winner of which receives the Mills Cup.


A few of the many Carolina League players who have gone on to star in the Major Leagues are: Johnny Bench (Peninsula, 1966), Wade Boggs (Winston-Salem, 1977), Barry Bonds (Prince William, 1985), Rod Carew (Wilson, 1966), Dock Ellis (Kinston, 1965), Dwight Evans (Winston-Salem, 1971), Dwight Gooden (Lynchburg, 1983), Andruw Jones (Durham, 1996), Chipper Jones (Durham, 1992), Willie McCovey (Danville, 1956), Joe Morgan (Durham, 1963), Dave Parker (Salem, 1972), Tony Pérez (Rocky Mount, 1962), Andy Pettitte (Prince William, 1993), Jorge Posada (Prince William, 1993), Darryl Strawberry (Lynchburg, 1981), Bernie Williams (Prince William, 1988), and Carl Yastrzemski (Raleigh, 1959).

Director and screenwriter Ron Shelton's 1988 film “Bull Durham,” starring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, and Susan Sarandon, depicted a fictionalized account of the Durham Bulls, at that time a Carolina League team (they have since become a Class AAA team in the International League). Before he began making films, Shelton had a five-year minor league career in the Baltimore Orioles' organization, which included a stint in the Carolina League.

The California League's Bakersfield Blaze have announced that the franchise will be moved to the Carolina League for 2010 [10881]. Another California League franchise would have to move to the Carolina League, although the second team's identity has not been determined, in order to keep both leagues at an even number of teams for scheduling purposes.

Current teams

Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
Northern Frederick Keys Baltimore Orioles Frederickmarker, Marylandmarker Harry Grove Stadiummarker 5,400
Lynchburg Hillcats Cincinnati Reds Lynchburgmarker, Virginiamarker Calvin Falwell Fieldmarker 4,000
Potomac Nationals Washington Nationals Woodbridgemarker, Virginiamarker G.marker Richard Pfitzner Stadiummarker 6,000
Wilmington Blue Rocks Kansas City Royals Wilmingtonmarker, Delawaremarker Daniel S.marker Frawley Stadiummarker 6,532
Southern Kinston Indians Cleveland Indians Kinstonmarker, North Carolinamarker Grainger Stadiummarker 4,100
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Atlanta Braves Myrtle Beachmarker, South Carolinamarker BB&T Coastal Fieldmarker 4,875
Salem Red Sox Boston Red Sox Salemmarker, Virginiamarker Lewis-Gale Fieldmarker 4,968 (expandable to 6,300)
Winston-Salem Dash Chicago White Sox Winston-Salemmarker, North Carolinamarker New Winston-Salem Ballparkmarker 6,000

Current team rosters

Carolina League Champions

(1) Series tied 2-2 when canceled because of Hurricane Floyd. Teams declared co-champions.

Complete team list (1945-present)

Composite Standings

(through 62 years)
Composite Standings
Team Years W L Pct. Titles
Wilmington Blue Rocks 14 1070 879 .549 4
Myrtle Beach Pelicans 8 590 524 .530 2
Kinston Indians 43 3137 2809 .528 6
Winston-Salem Warthogs 62 4373 4265 .506 11
Lynchburg Hillcats 41 2861 2812 .504 5
Frederick Keys 26 1780 1818 .495 3
Salem Red Sox 39 2599 2810 .480 4
Potomac Nationals 29 1899 2118 .473 2

See also

External links

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