Another big shift on the PDC front: the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and the Oakland Athletics announced a four-year player development contract, through 2018.
“We are thrilled to begin this new relationship with the A’s, who hold an exciting future on both the major league and minor league levels,” said Sounds owner Frank Ward. “Oakland has an outstanding track record of success at the Triple-A level. We’re looking forward to watching their next tier of stars develop at our state-of-the-art First Tennessee Park.”
“The Oakland A’s are delighted to enter into this new association with Frank Ward and the Nashville Sounds,” said A’s Vice President and General Manager Billy Beane. “As we did our due diligence of available Triple-A markets, it became very clear that Nashville was the most attractive. It is a dynamic city and entertainment center with first-rate ownership, a long history of baseball, and a location that is convenient for player movement. In addition, we are excited to be part of a new era of Nashville baseball with the 2015 opening of First Tennessee Park.”
Oakland is the seventh different major league club the Sounds have affiliated with since the franchise was founded in 1978.
The previous Triple-A home for the A’s, the Sacramento River Cats, won its division in 11 of the past 15 years and captured four PCL league championships span (2003-04, ’07-08) over that span, during which they posted a .567 winning percentage (1224-935).
In 2014, Oakland’s Double-A affiliate, the Midland Rockhounds, captured the Texas League title after finishing 77-63 during the regular season, the 2nd-best record in the league. It was Midland’s third league championship in the last 10 years.
This season, Oakland’s farm system produced playoff berths for two of its top three clubs (Double-A Midland and Advanced-A Stockton), with Triple-A Sacramento narrowly missing the postseason despite having the 4th-best record in the Pacific Coast League.
Of the top 10 Athletics prospects as currently ranked by MLB.com, three appeared at the Double-A level and five played at the Advanced-A level in 2014.
The 2015 Nashville Sounds coaching staff will be announced later this fall.
This leaves the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers to decide between the Fresno Grizzlies and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (both Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) as a top farm team. Either would be a temporary home for the Astros, as the Ryan Baseball-owned Round Rock Express (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) will have its affiliation up in 2016. San Francisco is now a cinch to sign a new affiliation deal with the River Cats.
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