Harper is main attraction in '11

Syracuse doesn't come to Coolray Field to face the Gwinnett Braves until Aug. 23-26. Will Bryce Harper still be with the Chiefs then?

Considered the top prospect in baseball, the 19-year-old outfielder is sure to be the lead attraction in the International League this season, just like another No. 1 overall draft pick by Washington was two years ago.

Pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg packed in the crowds during his brief stay in Class AAA in 2010 and Harper may not stick around all that much long this year if he terrorizes IL pitchers.

The G-Braves did go up against Strasburg in Syracuse two years ago and they may face Harper this time. But if it happens, it will probably be in Syracuse during a June 22-25 series.

In addition to Harper, the IL will feature a team without a true home and six new managers this season. The constant is the league makeup. There were no franchise moves or affiliation switches over the winter.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees will play most of their games in ballparks around the state of New York this season as PNC Field is scheduled to begin the process of being extensively redone, including the elimination of the upper deck.

The team will be re-branded the Empire State Yankees for its 60 "home" games in New York cities. The Yankees will play 37 games in Rochester, 10 in Syracuse, six in Buffalo and seven in Batavia, N.Y., which has a team in the Class A New York-Penn League team. The G-Braves will face the Yankees in Rochester.

It's been more than 50 years since the International League faced anything close to the Yankees situation.

In 1961 the San Juan franchise folded a month into the season and the team relocated to Charleston, W.Va. for the rest of the year.

A year earlier, the Havana franchised had to relocate to Jersey City, N.J. at midseason in the aftermath of the Cuban revolution.

With Rick Sweet being replaced at Indianapolis by David Bell, Gwinnett's Dave Brundage and Durham's Charlie Montoyo will be the longest tenured managers in the International League this season.

Brundage managed the Braves' IL team the final two years in Richmond, winning the Governors' Cup championship in 2007, then moved with the franchise to Gwinnett in 2009.

His sixth continuous season this year matches Montoyo, who has been at Durham since 2007 and won his fifth straight South Division title with the Bulls last year.

The IL's most successful manager, though, is Mike Sarbaugh of Columbus, who won Governors' Cup and AAA National Championship titles each of his two previous seasons with the Clippers.

Two new managers join the South Division. Joel Skinner, who once managed the Cleveland Indians, takes over at Charlotte. Ron Johnson, who was at Pawtucket before spending two years as a coach in Boston, is the new manager at Norfolk.

In addition to Bell, other new managers for 2012 are former New York Mets second baseman Wally Backman at Buffalo, Gene Glynn at Rochester and Tony Beasley at Syracuse.

Of course, the most famous IL manager is Ryne Sandberg. The Hall of Famer took over at Lehigh Valley last year and led the IronPigs to their first ever playoff appearance as the wild-card team.