The baseball team once known as the Potomac Nationals has a new home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with a brand new ballpark — and now there has been confirmation that an old relationship will continue with the Washington Nationals.
The Fredericksburg Nationals, who have been part of the Nats’ farm system since the team arrived in D.C. in 2005, made the cut and have been included in Major League Baseball’s restructuring of its minor league system. MLB is reducing the number of minor league teams for its clubs from 160 to 120.
The Nationals extended an invitation to the Fredericksburg organization to be its Low-A affiliate. The invite was expected, but the news was also a welcome relief.
The changes in the minors are real. For example, the Fredericks Keys lost their affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles, but have been included as part of the new MLB Draft League.
“We were very confident that we would maintain the affiliation,” said Fredericksburg Nationals co-owner Seth Silber. “Our relationship with the Nationals has been terrific, and it is a deep relationship. During COVID this year, their players were working out at our facility, and they were thrilled with the facility.”
The home of the FredNats is a 5,000-seat stadium located just off I-95 in Fredericksburg and was completed for the start of the 2020 season. Because of COVID-19, the 2020 season never began, but the new affiliation agreement with the Nationals is a 10-year deal that offers the promise of many summers of minor league baseball.
While there was no action on the diamond in 2020, the FredNats Ballpark has already become a community attraction in Fredericksburg.
There have been free movie nights, a Halloween party for kids complete with the team’s mascots, and every Friday, local food trucks are lined up around the stadium to offer a buffet of Fredericksburg fare.
“When I see people coming into our ballpark with kids who are 4 or 5 or 6 years old, and knowing that their childhood memories are going to be having played in our ballpark — that’s very exciting to me,” Silber said. “They are going to see the future Juan Soto’s right here in Fredericksburg with the Nationals.”
It is also an advantage that the FredNats are close to the parent club in Washington.
When the team was located in Prince William County, major league players like Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg and Trea Turner all did rehab assignments with the then-Potomac Nationals. Soto played for the P-Nats the season he made his debut with the Nationals.
Unlike the Single-A Potomac Nationals, the Fredericksburg Nationals will compete at the Low-A level, but that should still give local fans a glimpse at potential future stars.
“It’s exciting to play a role in player development with the Nationals and to allow our fans to enjoy that,” Silber said. “At the level we are playing at, we expect the first opportunity for people to see some of the top draft picks is likely going to be with us in Fredericksburg.”