Quad Cities replaces the Wilmington Blue Rocks as the Royals’ High-A affiliate, while Columbia replaces the Lexington Legends as the team’s Low-A affiliate. Wilmington will become a Washington Nationals farm team, while the Legends were not invited to be part of the new MiLB licensing system. The Royals and River Bandits owner Dave Heller are well-acquainted; Heller is a co-owner of the Blue Rocks.
“Moving up to Advanced-A and securing a long-term affiliation with the Kansas City Royals will be the best thing to happen to baseball in the Quad Cities since the renovation of Modern Woodmen Park,” Heller said in a press statement. “Having Advanced-A baseball in the Quad Cities means the players who come through our ballpark are markedly more likely to reach the major leagues. It’s a higher level of play, with better pitchers and better hitters and more experienced players. And there is no better organization in baseball than the Kansas City Royals, no one with whom we would rather affiliate. Dayton Moore, J.J. Picollo, Scott Sharp – they are the best. They do things the right way, treat people the right way. And they have a proven record building a World Series Champion.”
“There has been a lot of anticipation regarding the restructuring of Minor League Baseball,” said Fireflies President John Katz in a press statement. “We’re excited that the Fireflies have been invited to join. We look forward to the details being worked out and giving fans in Columbia an opportunity to enjoy top-quality professional baseball for years to come.”
“The quality of Segra Park—named “Ballpark of the Decade” for the 2010s—and the tremendous progress at BullStreet have helped secure the invitation for the Fireflies to continue in affiliated Minor League Baseball for years to come,” said Fireflies’ Managing Owner Jason Freier in a press statement. “We want to thank Mayor Steve Benjamin, the City Council and the City Manager and staff for their vision and partnership.”
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