One of the Washington Nationals' top minor-league affiliates has earned some significant recognition from within the industry.
The Harrisburg Senators today were named winners of the annual Bob Freitas Award, given out by Baseball America magazine to the top Class AA franchise in the minor leagues.
In naming this year's award winner, Baseball America cited the Senators for being "an outstanding franchise that has achieved long-term success in Minor League Baseball."
Much of their success has been a result of a dramatic renovation of Metro Bank Park, Harrisburg's longtime home ballpark that was sorely in need of an upgrade. Thanks to a two-phase, 45 million project completed in 2010, the ballpark situated on an island on the Susquehanna River has become one of the crown jewels of the minor leagues.
And perhaps buoyed by the sight of top prospects Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper wearing Senators uniforms, attendance in Harrisburg has jumped 18 percent over the last two seasons.
"The Harrisburg Senators present a great story regarding their focus on the fan experience," Baseball America president and publisher Lee Folger said. "The Senators have revitalized attendance with investments in Metro Bank Park to in-game entertainment to smarter operations. We are pleased to recognize the Harrisburg Senators as the 2011 Bob Freitas Award winner for the Double-A level classification in minor league baseball."
"We are very blessed to work in an industry where we can impact so many people in so many different ways," Senators president Kevin Kulp said. "What makes this Freitas Award so special is that the winning organization really has to prove itself over a long period of time."
The Senators -- along with the Freitas Award winners in the other minor-league classifications -- will be honored at next week's Winter Meetings in Dallas.