Minor League Baseball has two purposes: to develop MLB prospects and be a fantastic environment for baseball fans. Often, they do a great job at both. Where MiLB goes above and beyond is its creative names. Minor League Baseball team names and mascots are some of the most unique and creative in all of sport.
Taking a look at the best Minor League Baseball team names is a task in itself, so we will only consider teams who are officially MiLB and not Independent. Sorry, Savannah Bananas and Florence Y’alls. The quirky nature of MiLB names and mascots is what makes it so enjoyable for local fans all over the country. In addition, of course, to getting to see tomorrow’s superstars.
The 30 Best Minor League Baseball Team Names (11-20)
20. Carolina Mudcats
MLB Affiliate: Milwaukee Brewers (A)
Kicking off the top 20, we have a creative mascot that looks like a derpy catfish. The Carolina Mudcats were once in Columbus, Georgia before making the move to Zebulon, North Carolina. They started off as the AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1990s and have since jumped around to the Rockies, Marlins, Reds, Guardians, Braves, and now the Brewers.
While they started as AA, they were bumped down to Class-A-Advanced in 2012. Then, during the MiLB shakeup of 2021, the Mudcats fell to Class-A/Single-A. As one can deduce, “Mudcats” are slang for catfish in the southern United States. After 2011, the team relocated to Pensacola and re-branded. However, the Kinston Indians were relocated to Carolina and took over the Mudcats name.
19. Lansing Lugnuts
MLB Affiliate: Oakland A’s (High-A)
Located in Lansing, Michigan, the Lugnuts are one of the most unique Minor League Baseball team names in use today. It’s literally a nut! How insanely cool and unique can you get?
The Athletics High-A affiliate has been around since 1955 and it began in Lafayette, Indiana. After spending a few years as the Lafayette Red Sox, they moved to Waterloo, Iowa as the Waterloo Hawks and played there for three and a half decades. They changed their mascot to their respective MLB clubs until they moved to Lansing in 1996.
Since 2007, the Lugnuts started the Crosstown Showdown with Michigan State University which is based in East Lansing. The annual exhibition is usually a hit with students and ‘Nuts fans alike. To date, the Lugnuts are 12-2 against the Spartans.
18. Hickory Crawdads
MLB Affiliate: Texas Rangers (High-A)
There used to be a number of ballclubs that played in Hickory, North Carolina. However, when the Gastonia Rangers were purchased and relocated to Hickory in 1993, fans were asked to name the team. Based on the animal’s strength and prevalence in the local waterways, the name “Crawdads” was chosen. Crawdads, crawfish, crayfish, mudbugs, or rock lobsters, whatever you call them.
Upon its inception in 1993, Hickory was affiliated with the White Sox and were for half of a decade. Then, they were handed over to the Pirates for 10 years. In 2009, it was the Rangers who earned the right to have a fighting crawdad on their hats and have ever since. Seriously, the main logo of the crawdad poking his head out of the water holding a baseball is classic.
17. Richmond Flying Squirrels
MLB Affiliate: San Francisco Giants (High-A)
How many Minor League Baseball team names can boast flying squirrels? ONE. Marvel’s Squirrel Girl is the team’s biggest fan of the Giants longest-running affiliation with a team that is not officially owned by the team.
The logo is of a superhero-like flying squirrel that is vaguely shaped like a capital R. Think the Atlant Falcons logo looking like an F but about 10X cooler. As it turns out, the logo was voted logo of the year by Ballpark Digest in 2010 and the coolest MiLB logo by Baseball America in 2015. It’s a good thing this list is purely scientific and factual or else one could be disgruntled at the slighting of the Flying Squirrels.
16. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
MLB Affiliate: Miami Marlins (AAA)
Could this be the first true snubbing? The logo of the Jumbo Shrimp is legitimately fantastic and it gets exponentially more difficult to rank moving forward. How can anyone NOT love a team sporting a buff crustacean ready to throw hands?
They started out as the Jacksonville Suns from 1962-1968, bouncing around as the AAA affiliate of the Guardians, Cardinals, and Mets. Then, they relocated to Norfolk, Virginia, and became the Tidewater Tides until 1984. In 1985, MiLB returned to Jacksonville as the Expos until 1991 when they returned to the Suns mascot. An epiphany hit in 2017 and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp were born.
After starting off as a AAA team, Jacksonville was relegated to AA from 1970-2020. When MiLB restructured itself before the 2021 season, the Jumbo Shrimp returned to AAA status.
15. Tri-City Dust Devils
MLB Affiliate: Los Angeles Angels (High-A)
Perhaps the mortal enemy of a few of the dog-themed Minor League Baseball team names, the Dust Devils sweep their way into the top 15. Okay, technically, the logo is of a tornado (aka dust or dirt devil), but the first thing you thought of was a vacuum sweeper, right?
After moving from Portland to Pasco, Washington, in 2001, the Dust Devils have been a High-A level team. Initially, they were affiliated with the Colorado Rockies. After 2014, their affiliation switched to the San Diego Padres. Ever since the 2021 restructure, the Dust Devils have been affiliated with the Angels. The “Tri-City” is a nod to the three cities in southeastern Washington, Kennewick, Richland, and Pasco.
14. Toledo Mud Hens
MLB Affiliate: Detroit Tigers (AAA)
Is this a nod to classics or a regional bias? Why not both? The Mud Hens, on the surface just seem like a run-of-the-mill mascot but it is one of the oldest MiLB teams in the country. The name is incredibly clever. They started off playing under the Swamp Angels moniker and they changes to Mud Hens as a nod to the American coot birds that inhabited the marshland near the home park. If you did not know, much of northwest Ohio was part of the Great Black Swamp before everything was drained and inhabited. Toledo was just on the northern edge of that swamp.
As a team that has played off and on for well over 140 years, the Mud Hens have changed affiliations and classifications. They’ve played as AAA, AA, Class A, Class B, Class C, and independent. The Mud Hens bounced around the Yankees, Guardians, Phillies, and Twins before settling down with the Tigers and have been since 1987.
13. Biloxi Shuckers
MLB Affiliate: Milwaukee Brewers (AA)
We’ve had mascots about all kinds of interesting things and the Shuckers are no different. On the surface, if you’re from the midwest, you’d think “Shuckers” would refer to shucking the husks off of corn. Not so fast, my friend! It actually refers to the shucking of oysters and Biloxi, Mississippi’s long history of oysters and seafood.
After the Huntsville Stars relocated to Biloxi in 2015, they adopted the Shuckers name. In that time, the Shuckers have only ever been affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers. Can you honestly look at that logo and not shiver in fear? Well, maybe that’s stretching it, but it’s still incredibly unique and clever.
12. Pensacola Blue Wahoos
MLB Affiliate: Miami Marlins (AA)
What is a blue wahoo? Well, it’s a fish native to the area with vibrant colors. It’s incredibly fash and sought-after for its meat. Wait, now we’re hungry.
As it’s known now, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos started in 2012 after the franchise relocated from being the Carolina Mudcats. Since then, the Blue Wahoos were the AA affiliate (or, technically, continued since the Mudcats were affiliated at the time) of the Reds for seven years. After two years/one season with the Twins, the Blue Wahoos joined forces with another super fast fish, the Marlins.
11. Beloit Sky Carp
MLB Affiliate: Miami Marlins (High-A)
It’s not often that an animal that is often referred to as a pest is glorified and hoisted up as a mascot, yet here we are! Initially, the MiLB team based in Beloit was named the Brewers because, you guessed it, they were the High-A affiliate of the Brewers. That was starting in 1982 and ran through the 2004 season. From there, they went under the Snappers moniker, which to be fair, is also an awesome name.
Prior to the 2021 season, the franchise used fan polling to rename the team and went with Sky Carp, a nickname for geese. Yes, geese. Either way, the goose melded into the letter B on the players’ hats is pretty clean. For as much as #ManfredHatesBaseball and how the restructuring will likely hurt the game in the long run, plenty of lever names were born. The Sky Carp just missed out on the top 10 but it was close.
Main Image: Butch Dill-USA TODAY