Sent all the way down to Single-A at age 30 to continue his comeback as a reliever, Mark Prior pitched in back-to-back games over the weekend and threw a pair of scoreless innings.
Prior told the Associated Press afterward that his arm “feels fine” and his fastball reportedly averaged 90 miles per hour.
He can opt out of his minor-league contract with the Yankees by mid-June if he’s not in the majors, but as always with Prior staying healthy between now and then will be every bit as important as his actual performance.
Presumably if he continues to pitch well and stay injury free at Single-A the Yankees will move him up the minor-league ladder to test Prior against some hitters who aren’t a decade his junior.
Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.
Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.
All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.