Nickname finalists announced for Texas Rangers new Carolina League franchise

The fans have spoken! After receiving more than 1300 name submissions, the Texas Rangers today announced the five finalists for the nickname of the team's new Carolina League franchise in Kinston.

Fan voting to help select the nickname for the franchise, which starts play in the spring of 2017, begins at 1:00 p.m. ET today at http://www.kinstonbaseball.com/.

In addition, it was announced that the official name of the franchise will be Down East to reflect the regional market for the new team.

"While the new team will call the great City of Kinston home, there are so many people from neighboring areas that will be part of the new family of fans," said team General Manager Wade Howell. "To honor the geographic diversity of the fans, and to give a nod to the many vibrant areas the team will serve, we'll precede the new team nickname with the phrase "Down East."

"We received a number of unique nicknames that embody the energetic spirit of Eastern North Carolina. Now, we are asking our fans to help us select our nickname which we will wear proudly beginning in April."

The five finalists for the Down East club's nickname in alphabetical order:

Down East Eagles - A nod to baseball history in the Eastern part of the state, the Eagles were the first pro team to play at Historic Grainger Stadium. 

Down East HamHawks - As one of the country's biggest pork producers, there's no questioning the importance of the mighty pig in North Carolina. But, hogs are just a fraction of what the state is known for - this is also the birthplace of aviation. This team name is a play on words paying homage to some of the state's most notable contributions. 

Down East Hogzillas - Whole hog BBQ is part of the very fabric that makes Eastern North Carolina a colorful place. Hogzilla is a mighty and powerful team ready to bring home the bacon, and the wins, for fans.

Down East Shaggers - The Carolina Shag is a partner dance that will leave your toes tapping. Watch for members of this team to shag balls on the field and maybe even invite you to dance at the ballpark. 

Down East Wood Ducks - Also known as "woodies", these colorful local waterfowl and a favorite among local hunters and boast some of the sharpest claws among all ducks. Less than 24 hours after hatching, these gutsy ducklings make a long and unassisted jump out of their nest high above the ground. Look for this team to make equally plucky plays on the field.

While fan input is a very important part of this process, the voting process is just one of the criteria. Regional relevance, marketability, the ability to trademark the name, and family fun will also be important parts of the final selection process. 

Fan voting will continue through Thursday, September 29 at 5:00 p.m. ET. The team hopes to announce its new nickname by early October.

On August 22, the Rangers announced that the organization had entered into an agreement to purchase controlling interest from Minor League Baseball in the new club. A second new franchise to be announced will expand the Carolina League to ten teams beginning with the 2017 season and mark a return of professional baseball to Kinston for the first time since 2011.

The Rangers will be playing at Kinston's Grainger Stadium, which hosted a Carolina League franchise in all but three seasons over a 50-year span from 1962-2011. The rich history of professional baseball in Kinston dates back to 1921. The Cleveland Indians had their Carolina League affiliate in Kinston from 1987-2011 before the franchise moved to Zebulon, NC for the 2012 season.

The Rangers are planning a multi-year renovation project for Grainger Stadium with home and visiting clubhouse, weight room, and concession stand expansion scheduled to be completed for the 2017 season.

The Rangers' High-A California League affiliate has been located in High Desert, CA for the past two seasons after four years in the Carolina League at Myrtle Beach, SC from 2011-2014. Prior to that time, Texas had not been affiliated with the Carolina League since having a farm club in Salem, VA in 1986. Texas had its High-A club in the Florida State League at Port Charlotte from 1987-2002 and in the California League at Stockton in 2003-04 and at Bakersfield from 2005-10.

For ticket and merchandise information for the Down East team, please go to www.KinstonBaseball.com.