As the book has finally closed on the 2012 MiLB season, many Minor League teams end up switching which what Major League club they’re affiliated with, based upon their player development contracts. Although the offseason is still fairly fresh, we have seen a flurry of moves this past September and into the first few weeks of October. Below are the first batch—however, check back with us to see the moves as they occur, as we’ll be updating our readers of all the changes as they occur this offseason.
Class “A” Short Season
Jamestown Jammers, New York-Penn League
Old Club: Miami Marlins
New Club: Pittsburgh Pirates
The Jammers spent a decade with their former parent club, the Marlins, before making the switch to the Pirates in mid-September. Famous Jammers alumni include Minor League sensation Gabe Kapler. Randy Johnson spent some time in Jamestown, but they were known as the Jamestown Expos in his day.
State College Spikes, New York Penn League
Old Club: Pittsburgh Pirates
New Club: St. Louis Cardinals
With the Spikes no longer being affiliated with the Pirates, this opened the door for the Jamestown Jammers (mentioned above). The Spikes were actually a long-time Cardinals affiliate (1981-2006) before switching over to the Pirates in 2006. In fact, they are formerly know as the New Jersey Cardinals and were located in Augusta, New Jersey before moving to State College, PA.
Class “A” Full Season
Beloit Snappers, Midwest League
Old Club: Minnesota Twins
New Club: Oakland Athletics
This long-time Brewer affiliate switched to the Twins in 2005, before switching to the Athletics for next season. Tony Gwynn, Jr. and Price Fielder (who have quite the family baseball pedigree) are Beloit alums.
Burlington Bees, Midwest League
Old Club: Oakland Athletics
New Club: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Burlington has been affiliated with twelve different big league clubs throughout their history, their longest partnership being between 1963-1974 with the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics, and 2001-2010 with the Kansas City Royals.
Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League
Old Club: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
New Club: Minnesota Twins
Continuing on the musical-chairs-like switches in the Midwest League, the long-time Angels affiliate (since 1993) jumped over to the Twins for the 2013 season. The Kernels were a recent stopover for Mike Trout (in 2010), before he took his dominating stuff to the Majors. Interestingly enough, when I worked in the Midwest League as a bat boy/ball boy, I heard rumors that the Kernels ballpark was in jeopardy of being flooded due to the 2008 flood that ripped through Cedar Rapids.
Kane County Cougars, Midwest League
Old Club: Kansas City Royals
New Club: Chicago Clubs
In a move that makes geographic sense, the Kane County Cougars switched over to the Cubs for the 2013 season. Kane County is about 35 miles west of Chicago. Due to its close vicinity to the Windy City, the Cougars usually have no problem filling their ball yard on those beautiful Midwest summer evenings. Just a couple of years ago, the Cougars squared off against then-Cub affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs, in Wrigley Field. The matchup was all the more interesting given Cub legend and Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg, was the Chiefs skipper.
Peoria Chiefs, Midwest League
Old Club: Chicago Cubs
New Club: St. Louis Cardinals
This is an interesting move, given Peoria’s proximity to both St. Louis and Chicago. As mentioned above, the Chiefs were in a lot of baseball headlines given their manager for the 2007 and 2008 season was Cub legend, Ryne Sandberg. The Chiefs were also a YouTube sensation, with their infamous brawl with the Dayton Dragons in 2008.
Quad City River Bandits
Old Club: St. Louis Cardinals
New Club: Houston Astros
The River Bandits were formerly named the “Swing of the Quad Cities” from 2004-2007, and in all honesty, I thought they had among the ugliest uniforms in professional sports (give them a looksie via Google, just make sure you haven’t eaten recently…)
Lexington Legends, South Atlantic League
Old Club: Houston Astros
New Club: Kansas City Royals
Roger Clemens made headlines with the Legends after appearing in Lexington for a rehab start back in 2006. There was some speculation that his son, Koby, would be behind the plate for this start, but alas, it was simply a rumor.
Buffalo Bisons, International League
Old Club: New York Mets
New Club: Toronto Blue Jays
I could never figure out why Toronto switched from the Syracuse Sky Chiefs to the Las Vegas 51s in 2009. This move, however, makes much more geographical sense. Mets fans were treated to Wally Backman‘s managerial whirlwind this past season, with Backman guiding the Bisons to a 67-76 record. Backman is a New York-fan favorite from his days with the World Series-winning 1986 New York Mets.
Old Club: Toronto Blue Jays
New Club: New York Mets
And of course, to complete the switch-a-roo from the Bisons, the Mets jumped down to Las Vegas. The 51s play in Cashman Field, which has held several Major League contests over the years. It’s often used as a bargaining chip in Las Vegas’ attempt to lure a MLB franchise, most recently being dangled in front of the now-defunct Montreal Expos.
Topics: Beloit Snappers, Buffalo Bisons, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Jamestown Jammers, Kane County Cougars, Las Vegas 51s, Lexington Legends, Peoria Chiefs, Quad City River Bandits, State College Spikes