Another big move in the 2015-2016 affiliation world comes today when the Tulsa Drillers (Class AA; Texas League) will announce a new Los Angeles Dodgers player development contract (PDC) at an afternoon press conference.
It’s one of three press conferences set to announce new PDCs today. Also scheduled: an Oklahoma City RedHawks (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) press conference to welcome new team owner Peter Guber and to announce the team’s new affiliation with the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Dodgers president Stan Kasten and Hall-of-Famer Tommy Lasorda expected to be on hand at both Oklahoma events.
The final press conference: the Albuquerque Isotopes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will announce that team’s new parent.
For the Dodgers, the new setup centralizes high-level development in Oklahoma, putting the team’s top two affiliates around 100 miles apart. This is quite the change from the last two years, when the Dodgers’ top two affiliates were in Albuquerque and Chatanooga.
Yesterday got the ball rolling in terms of new affiliates when the Chicago Cubs and Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High Class A; Carolina League) announced a new affiliation. We’ve heard of very little talk about any resolution to the four Midwest League affiliations up for renewal: the Cubs are a major player there as well but apparently were waiting to solve their High Class A opening before moving to Low Class A discussions. There are several High Class A teams still looking for an affiliation, and we would not be surprised about hearing about an Atlanta Braves move in coming days now that the team unveiled a naming-rights deal for their new ballpark. After the Braves decide, look for the other partnerships to break quickly.
The Cubs’ Theo Epstein did have something to say about the decision about whether or not to return to Kane County:
“Nothing’s been decided yet,” Epstein said. “There are some things we’ve been asking for, for a while now. I read that news release, too. They’re good people. They’re making a push here to do some things.
“It just goes back to what’s best for the players. We’re looking around for the best fit for development purposes. A big part of that is the facilities.”
The Cougars’ release states that the baseball-related improvements will be “built to Cubs specifications,” but that phrase may be open to interpretation.
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