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Yankees announce affiliate changes in first glimpse of MiLB overhaul

Hudson Valley Renegades 2018The New York Yankees will add the formerly independent Somerset Patriots as a Double-A affiliate and the Hudson Valley Renegades as a High-A affiliate, positioning the Trenton Thunder with a potential move to the Atlantic League.

The move leaves the Yankees with a Triple-A affiliation with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The Yankees also confirmed something we reported earlier this week: that the Florida State League was transitioning to a Low-A league, and that affiliation with the Tampa Tarpons would continue. No surprise: the Tarpons are owned outright by the Yankees, with the team owning a majority share of the RailRiders.

The decision to sever ties with Trenton ends an 18-year relationship between the pair. According to a Yankees press release, the Thunder will be offered Somerset’s slot in the Atlantic League. Also to be offered a slot in the Atlantic League: the Staten Island Yankees, formerly of the Short Season A NY-Penn League. Entities associated with the Steinbrenner family still reportedly own a very small share of the SI Yankees. Another former Yankees affiliation severed: the Pulaski Yankees will be part of the transition of the Appalachian League from a Rookie pro league to a summer-collegiate circuit. As such, the Yankees name will be leaving the Pulaski team, as the entire Appy League is slated for new branding.

“This is a dream come true for everyone in the Somerset Patriots family,” said team Chairman Emeritus Steve Kalafer via press statement. “The first baseball game my father took me to was at Yankee Stadium and I continued the tradition, taking our sons Jonathan and Josh to their first games there as well. Our love for baseball and the New York Yankees came from those special days and has remained with us throughout our lives. I’ve always looked at the Yankees as the gold standard in baseball and sports as a whole. It is how we’ve modeled the way we’ve conducted our business at the Somerset Patriots since day one. We are forever grateful to Hal Steinbrenner and the entire Steinbrenner family, as well as the management of the New York Yankees. Our ‘call up’ to join one of the most recognizable and prestigious brands in the entire world is a milestone for us.”

The move to Hudson Valley as a High-A affiliate also confirms something we reported earlier this week: the Renegades are expected to be part of a new HighA Mid-Atlantic League. The Renegades will replace the Charleston RiverDogs as a Yankees affiliate, but with the Goldklang Group owning both teams, the relationship between the Yankees and Marv Goldklang — a minority investor in the Yankees — will continue.

The Yankees will continue with short-season teams in the Gulf Coast League (based at the Yankees Player Development Complex in Tampa) and Dominican Summer League(located at the Yankees Latin Béisbol Academy in Boca Chica).

“Restructuring our minor league affiliations — especially with the additions of Somerset and Hudson Valley — gives us greater continuity to streamline and improve the development of our minor league system,” said Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Cashman via press dtatement. “The relationships we have formed with all of our teams will allow for a more consistent application of training with similarly aligned facilities in terms of structure, quality and ease of travel. We are confident that these changes will greatly benefit our players and Yankees fans for many years to come.”

These decisions are not a surprise: they fit squarely into what we’ve been reporting. But we expected an announcement from MLB about the overall MiLB changes for 2021, not a team-by-team approach. Yes, we’ll be watching for similar announcements in coming days.

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