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Talk of Reds Appalachian League Team Premature: Locals

Pioneer Park, Greeneville

Three MLB teams — the Phillies, Reds and Indians — were vying to replace the Astros with a Greeneville Appalachian League team, and while the Reds say they won, locals say no final decision is in place.

That three MLB teams were competing to land the Greeneville team is certainly a triumph for the rookie-level Appalachian League, especially three MLB teams known for a commitment to a strong farm system. So any of these teams would be a strong addition to the league. The Houston Astros surprised many in baseball by pulling the plug on the Greeneville Astros after the end of the 2017 season, but given the market and the ballpark, it was clear a 2018 replacement would be forthcoming.

And although the Reds tweeted yesterday they landed rights to the market and a Pioneer Park lease, locals — who control the Tusculum College ballpark — say there’s no deal in place for the Reds. From the Greeneville Sun:

But [Scott] Niswonger, who helped woo the former Greeneville Astros and who has been working on behalf of the college to get another team in place, said this morning that the announcement was premature, since no agreement has been signed.

“We don’t have a definitive agreement,” Niswonger said in a phone interview today. “We’re fairly certain that we will reach an agreement, and we certainly want the Reds here. I think the community wants them here. But at this point, we do not have a definitive agreement with them. We certainly can’t post it until we have a signed agreement, so that’s been our reluctance to say anything.”

But Jeff Graupe, the Cincinnati Reds’ senior director of player development, said in a phone interview Wednesday night the team is excited about adding Greeneville to its slate of minor league clubs.

“We were looking at adding another rookie level affiliate in the [United] States,” Graupe said. “When Greeneville opened up, we thought it was a perfect fit. It’s a great town, a great ballpark. It really just had a lot of what we were looking for.”

It’s great the Reds have enthusiasm for Greeneville, and as the team made a strong bid to land the market, it would not be a surprise if the Reds ended up there. But the talk of the Reds, to be sure, is premature.

Photo by Mark Cryan.

RELATED STORIES: Astros Pull Out of Greeneville, Appalachian League

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