The Lynchburg Hillcats (High Class A; Carolina League) and the Cleveland Indians signed a four-year player development contract (PDC), though the 2018 season.
The Cleveland Indians had previously been affiliated with the Carolina Mudcats (High Class A; Carolina League) in a relationship dating back to the franchise’s roots in Kinston, beginning in 1987. The Hillcats had been an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, who are expected to affiliate with the Mudcats. From the Lynchburg News & Advance:
Hillcats president and general manager Paul Sunwall said he had discussions with three teams — Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians. The Hillcats had a previous relationship with the Reds in 2010 and Cincinnati definitely wants to return to the East Coast after spending the last four seasons in Bakersfield of the California League.
The Indians’ High-A affiliate has been in the Carolina League since 1987 (25 seasons in Kinston and the last three as the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon, North Carolina). The teams thrived in those markets, something Sunwall took notice of when he was making his decision.
“We enjoyed what they did for them in Kinston,” Sunwall said. “We have that same mindset.”
All the MLB teams seeking a High Class A affiliate, we are told, were looking to be in the Carolina League. Other teams open at High A are the High Desert Mavericks and Bakersfield Blaze of the California League, and the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State League.
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