After the Astros announced last month they were parting ways with the Greeneville affiliate in the Appalachian League, the hunt was quickly on to find a replacement. There were five serious suitors for the franchise, which plays its games at Tusculum College’s Pioneer Park.
On Tuesday, it appeared that the search had neared its completion. The process isn’t final, but it appears that the Reds will take over the team in 2018. Appalachian League president Lee Landers confirmed the move was all but done, saying that the transfer wasn’t official, but that they Reds had a clear “right of first refusal.”
The Astros have paired with Greeneville since 2004. Reached last night by text message, Reds farm director Jeff Graupe said his club has no plans to leave their other Rookie-level affiliate, Billings of the Pioneer League. They are adding a farm team without making a subtraction.
Sources also indicated that the Greeneville team is likely to be operated by Boyd Sports, which also operates two other clubs in Tennessee--the Tennessee Smokies of the Southern League and the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appy League.
What had been rumored since before the season began was made final on Tuesday when the Carolina Mudcats announced the team had been formally bought by the Brewers, who were in their first year of affiliation with the Mudcats after the Braves moved their high Class A club to the Florida State League.
“We have been very pleased with the Mudcats affiliation as it provides an excellent level of competition and first-class facilities at a key development level in our farm system,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said in a statement on Tuesday. “Moving into an ownership position will give us an opportunity to continue to enhance what is already a first-class operation on both the business and baseball sides.”
The Mudcats have been around since 1991, when they were a Double-A franchise and part of the Southern League. They joined the Carolina League in 2012, and have played as an affiliate of the Indians, Braves and Brewers.
The team was previously owned by Steve Bryant, who brought the franchise from Columbus, Ga., to Zebulon, N.C.