Down East Wood Ducks
- Location: Kinston, NC
- League: Carolina League 2017-2019; Low-A East (2021- )
- Affiliation: Texas Rangers 2017-present
- Ballpark: Grainger Stadium 2017-present
The Down East Wood Ducks are a former Carolina League franchise, now in the Low-A East, owned by its parent club, the Texas Rangers and based in Kinston, NC. Technically an expansion franchise when they joined the old Carolina circuit in 2017, they were lowered a level in Major League Baseball’s 2021 Minor League downsizing.
After the 2016 season, Minor League Baseball accommodated the Rangers' plan to get out of their affiliation with the California League's High Desert Mavericks by, in effect, moving two clubs from California to the Carolina League. A second team was necessary to execute the Rangers' plan because leagues who play games every day over a series of days need an even number of teams. The Rangers enlisted the Houston Astros to help, with the Rangers buying the Mavs and the Astros buying the Seattle Mariners-affiliated Bakersfield Blaze. The necessary technical process followed: The California League contracted those franchises, the Carolina League expanded by two, and its new franchises were placed in Kinston and in Fayetteville, NC - although the latter played its first two seasons elsewhere while awaiting a new stadium. The reason for this Machiavellian maneuvering was the Mavericks' ballpark, the windiest in the minors, that had become known for killing budding pitching careers. The Astros were in similar circumstances, being affiliated with the similarly afflicted Lancaster JetHawks. Bakersfield's Sam Lynn Ballpark was fraught with its own, but dissimilar, problems; Lancaster remained in the league, under a different parent, until it was contracted in the 2021 reorganization of the minors.
Kinston's stadium was available for this process after losing its longtime Carolina League club in 2012. The Kinston Indians moved to Zebulon, NC, as that city's Double-A Carolina Mudcats moved to Pensacola, FL. The K-Tribe took over the Mudcat identity and continue as such today.
The Down East name was announced in September, 2016, to some local grumbling. Kinston is near but not in Down East, the larger coastal plains community whose name was used to increase the club's geographic appeal. Five nickname choices from a "Name the Team" contest were also announced that month, with the whole moniker announced November 2nd. The also-rans were Eagles - longtime pre-Indians Kinston baseball name - HamHawks, Hogzillas and Shaggers. The Down East Wood Ducks' mascot? DEWD, naturally - pronounced like "dude".
Ducks pitching coach Steve Mintz managed the Australian Baseball League's Auckland Tuatara during their first two seasons and may return in the future. He was under contract for the 2020-21 campaign, but the club pulled out barely a month before the season was to start because of the Coronavirus pandemic and announced in June 2021 it will also sit out the 2021-22 campaign.
The Ducks play Copa de la Diversion Hispanic engagement campaign games as Avocados Luchadores de Down East ("Down East Wrestling Avocados").
|Year||Record||Finish||Manager||Playoffs||Hitting coach||Pitching coach||Coach|
|2017||62-77||9th||Howard Johnson||League Co-Champs||Bobby Rose||Steve Mintz||Jeremy Moore|
|2018||59-81||10th||Spike Owen||Kenny Hook||Steve Mintz||Carlos Maldonado|
|2019||87-52||1st||Corey Ragsdale||Lost in 1st round||Chase Lambin||Steve Mintz||Turtle Thomas|
|2021||Carlos Cardoza||Eric Dorton||Steve Mintz||Kevin Torres|