The first major affiliation shift of 2016 has taken place, as the Florida State League‘s new Central Florida franchise has signed an agreement with the Atlanta Braves. The player development contract (PDC) between the two teams run through the 2020 season.
Prior to its relocation, Central Florida had been the Brevard County Manatees, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers will now have to find a new High-A partner. Given the current makeup of High-A affiliations, Milwaukee will most likely partner with Carolina Mudcats–the Braves’ previous High-A affiliate–or the Lancaster JetHawks (California League), as the Houston Astros are expected to leave Lancaster and join the Carolina League.
The Central Florida franchise will begin play at Osceola County Stadium next year. Results of the club’s name the team contest are expected to be unveiled in October.
“We’re excited about this new partnership with the Braves, especially given the team’s long history here in Central Florida. We’re looking forward to enhancing that existing relationship with a reintroduction of Minor League Baseball in our community,” said Team President Joe Harrington. “The Florida State League has a reputation as a development leader for future major leaguers, so it was a natural fit as we look to build the new franchise here at Osceola County Stadium.”
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex has been the Spring Training home to the Atlanta Braves for nearly 20 years. The Atlanta Braves franchise has five Major League Baseball Hall of Famers including Phil Niekro, Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz.
“We are thrilled to reach this agreement with the Manatees,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said. “We look forward to returning to the Florida State League and to our second home in Central Florida.”
Earlier this week, Central Florida’s new Minor League Baseball team revealed its 2017 Florida State League (FSL) schedule and announced the sale of season seat memberships. The team’s inaugural season at Osceola County Stadium will start April 6 against the Daytona Tortugas.
The schedule features 70 home games and an Independence Day fireworks spectacular on July 4. Game times for all 2017 games and promotional-themed nights will be released at a later date.