The much discussed and rumored shift of two teams from the high Class A California League to its counterpart Carolina League is becoming a reality, just not for next season.
Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner told the Bakersfield Californian newspaper that next year will mark the Blaze’s final year in Bakersfield before moving to a Carolina League market. Bakersfield owner D.G. Elmore concurred, telling the Californian: "It’s one last hurrah."
A second team was not named in the article, and my calls to O’Conner and MILB chief operating officer Tim Purpura this morning were not immediately returned. High Desert, which has an out clause for its lease that expires after the 2010 season, would still seem like a favorite to move.
More to come on this.
By Marc Topkin
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The Rays seem pretty well set at shortstop, with Jason Bartlett starring in the big leagues, Reid Brignac impressive until injured at Triple-A and top draft pick Tim Beckham getting comfortable as a pro.
But they added another shortstop to the organization who could have a pretty significant impact in his own way – Cal Ripken Jr.
The Rays and Ripken have partnered to purchase and relocate the team’s Florida State League franchise from Vero Beach to the team’s new spring training site, where it will become the latest extension of Ripken’s fledgling empire.
Ripken Baseball is the primary owner (the Rays have a small share) and operator of the team, which will begin play in the reconstructed new stadium next April pending anticipated approval from the FSL, Minor League Baseball and the commissioner’s office.
"This opportunity came along and we started talking to the Rays and there was an immediate sort of synergy and partnership and it seemed like a really good opportunity," Ripken said. “A Florida State League team, with the spring training piece, works. A Florida State League team without the spring training piece is a little more challenging."
The long-term future of the Omaha Royals remains in doubt as the team explores potential new homes for when its lease at Rosenblatt Stadium expires in 2010—the frontrunner appears to be neighboring Sarpy County. However one certainty is that the team will continue its 30-year relationship with the big league Royals.
The club has called a news conference for tomorrow and is expected to announce an extension of its player development contract with Kansas City. Omaha team president will be in attendance and joined by Royals farm director J.J. Picollo. It would seem likely that the topic of the O-Royals future home will be addressed.
The agreement is hardly a surprise and now leaves six Pacific Coast League available. The list includes Memphis—which seems likely to re-up with the Cardinals—and Las Vegas, which has been affiliated with the Dodgers since 2001 and remains the best geographic fit for the big league club despite a deteriorating ballpark.
In other news, the Diamondbacks and high Class A Visalia extended their PDC two years through the 2010 season. Five teams now remain available in the California League—including San Jose, which seems likely to re-sign with the neighboring big league Giants. There is little reason to think the Dodgers would not re-up with Inland Empire, particularly considering two of the three remaining teams (High Desert, Lancaster) play in the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the minors. There is also that whole Cal League-Carolina League shift possibility, but we won’t go into that. [...] Continue Reading »
There has been a flurry of teams renewing their player development contracts over the past two weeks as the minor league season draws to a close.
The most recent came when low Class A Charleston extended its relationship with the Yankees four years through the 2012 season. The two have been affiliated since 2005 and the Riverdogs have set club attendance records in each of the past two seasons and, at 272,010, still have a shot at topping last season’s mark of 284,718.
Low Class A South Bend and the Diamondbacks extended the third-longest relationship in the Midwest League through 2012. The two have been paired since 1997.
Short-season Eugene and the Padres re-upped for four years through the 2012 season. “It’s been a good relationship for all the years San Diego has been here,” Grady Fuson, San Diego’s vice president of scouting and player development, told the Register Guard (Eugene, Ore.). “I’ve certainly had a history here, I played in this league in the 1970s and managed in the 80s and 90s. I think it is even more exciting to have the chance for a new ballpark, I think that will bring a whole new environment to everything. But this is about our players, the environment where they kick off their career.
“For the most part, this is the first place they see in their path with the Padres and I think it is important that the first impression is a good one.”
Other recent signings:
I wrote in our upcoming issue about the recent controversial four-game rainout at Rookie-level Casper, in which the local operators and big league club were at odds over the condition of the playing field after a particularly heavy rain. Ultimately, field managers for Casper and visiting Billings defied local management, and the umpires in the series finale, by refusing to take the field. I was not able to speak with Rockies farm director Marc Gustafson until after the issue went to press and wanted to include his take on the situation in an updated version of the story below.
A stormy stretch put a damper on Rookie-level Casper’s playoff push and highlighted the sometimes differing motivations between minor league operators and their parent clubs.
A four-game homestand against Billings ended with just one inning being played and both team managers—with the support of their respective farm systems—at odds with Casper management on the safety of playing conditions that ultimately led to Mustangs skipper Julio Garcia defying umpires’ calls to play ball by loading his team onto the bus and driving out of town.
“It definitely wasn’t the best weekend we’ve had,” Casper general manager Matt Warneke said.
The series openers were scheduled for a late August Thursday and Friday but were postponed due to a deluge of rain, leading the Ghosts to opt for back-to-back doubleheaders on the following Saturday and Sunday. Warneke said his staff showed up to the park at dawn on Saturday and spent the morning prepping the field. The game was supposed to begin at noon to be followed by a concert, the second half of the doubleheader and then fireworks. But Warneke said neither manager felt the field was playable and the game was postponed until the evening after the concert. While preparations for the evening game were underway—including player introductions and the national anthem—Garcia and Casper manager Tony Diaz met at home plate with the umpire crew. Roughly an hour later the game was called due to a soggy outfield.
Things only worsened on Sunday. A Casper Star Tribune report stated that there was standing water throughout the outfield and a puddle in center field.
It will be interesting to see if more player development contracts are renewed as the close of the minor league season approaches. Clubs seeking a new affiliation can begin notifying Minor League Baseball of their intentions at the end of the championship season until Sept. 11—major league teams follow the same timeline to report any desires to seek reaffiliation to the commissioner’s office.
Low Class A Fort Wayne (Midwest League) and the Padres announced today a two-year extension to their PDC that will run through the 2010 season. Double-A Northwest Arkansas (Texas League), in the midst of completing its debut season after relocating from Wichita, yesterday re-upped with the Royals for another four years, extending their PDC through the 2012 season.
Other recent PDC updates include: High Class A Stockton (California League) and the Athletics four years through 2012; Low Class A Lakewood (South Atlantic) and the Phillies two years through 2010; Low Class A Dayton (Midwest) and the Reds four years through 2012; Short-season Williamsport (NY-Penn League) and the Phillies two years through 2010; Double-A Mobile (Southern) and the Diamondbacks two years through 2010; High Class A Modesto (California) and the Rockies two years through 2010. Short-season Lowell (NYP) and the Red Sox two years through 2010.
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