The affiliation shuffle doesn't get going until September, but that doesn't mean there is no activity to report.
Teams are free to extend player-development contracts with their current affiliates during the season, and the Dodgers did that with two of their clubs last week. Los Angeles signed deals through the 2014 season with both low Class A Great Lakes (Midwest League) and Double-A Chattanooga (Southern). That leaves just high Class A Inland Empire (California) and Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast) as the Dodgers' remaining unsigned full-season affiliates.
There is little reason to believe Los Angeles won't re-up with both clubs. The Dodgers certainly want to remain in the California League. Besides Bakersfield and High Desert—two affiliates in flux—just Rancho Cucamonga and Modesto are the only remaining unsigned clubs in the Cal League.
The Dodgers are completing their second season in Albuquerque since leaving Las Vegas in 2008 and it would seem the relationship is working well for both parties. The Isotopes are third in the PCL in attendance with a 7,915 average and the Dodgers get to play in a significantly better facility than they had in Vegas' Cashman Field.
Other recent extensions (that you can find on the complete player development chart) include Triple-A Buffalo (International) and the Mets re-upping through 2012, the Twins and Triple-A Rochester (International) extending their deal two years, the Giants and Triple-A Fresno (Pacific Coast) teaming up through 2012.
Who's Coming To Round Rock?
Don't expect to see the Astros and Triple-A Round Rock (Pacific Coast) extend their player-development contract before the season is out. The two have been linked since Round Rock was born as a Texas League affiliate in 2000, but team owner Nolan Ryan's deal to purchase the Rangers is on the verge of completion and there is plenty of speculation that he is going to shift the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate from Oklahoma City to Round Rock. That could lead to the Astros replacing the Rangers in Oklahoma City—one of the nicest facilities in the Pacific Coast League.
“If the Rangers realign and go to Round Rock, that would open up Oklahoma City, and that certainly meets all (our) criteria,” Astros general manager Ed Wade told the Houston Chronicle.
Meanwhile, BA correspondent Evan Grant thinks the Rangers may have more moves in store. New co-owner Chuck Greenberg also owns high Class A Myrtle Beach and short-season State College, and Grant writes that both clubs may ditch their current affiliates for the Rangers.
Myrtle Beach general manager Scott Brown says no such discussions have taken place yet.
"Pure speculation," said Brown, adding that Minor League Baseball rules do not permit teams to discuss possible affiliations with other teams. "The Braves are great to work with and there are certainly a bunch of Braves fans who visit Myrtle Beach each year. But there is also a lot of Yankees and Red Sox and Orioles fans because this is such a transient town."
The Pelicans have drawn well as a Braves affiliate and rank fourth in the Carolina League this season with a 3,240 average. State College is in the heart of Pirates' country (if there is such a thing these days) and currently rank seventh in the NYP with a 3,754 average.