The first change of the affiliation shuffle will reunite a pair of old friends.
Short-season State College (New York-Penn League) announced it has signed a player-development contract with the Cardinals after spending the past six seasons with the Pirates. The deal is for two years and will run through the 2014 season.
State College debuted in 2006 as a Cardinals affiliate after an ownership group headed by Chuck Greenberg purchased the franchise, then called the New Jersey Cardinals, and relocated it from Augusta, N.J. It had been linked to St. Louis for the previous 24 years while playing in four different cities.
"The State College Spikes are very pleased to re-kindle our partnership with one of the most well-respected and successful franchises in all of professional sports," State College chairman/managing partner Chuck Greenberg said in a press release. "The Cardinals were wonderful partners during our inaugural season and their players, coaches and other player development staff were instrumental in helping to legitimize both the Spikes brand and minor league baseball in the Centre region and all of Central Pennsylvania. The manner in which the Cardinals operate, both on and off the field, is respected and emulated by the entire baseball industry. We are excited to bring the 'Cardinal Way' to our loyal Spikes fans."
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is left with just two options for its short-season affiliate: Jamestown (which has been with the Marlins since 2002) and Batavia (where the Cardinals had played since 2007). Neither will be particularly appealing for the Pirates after making a home at one of the NYP’s best facilities in State College’s Medlar Field. Jamestown averaged 1,031 fans, second-fewest in the NYP, while playing at 71-year-old Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park. Batavia, which has been operated by their neighbors Triple-A Rochester (International) the past four years after nearly folding due to financial problems, averaged a league-worst 904 fans in 2012.