The Royals have signed a 2 year player development contract with the Kane County Cougars in Geneva, Illinois to serve as Kansas City’s Low A minor league affiliate. The Cougars were an affiliate of the Oakland A’s since 2003.
The move keeps the Royals Low A players and staff in the Midwest League, and could provide some additional exposure for the club. Kane County has had strong attendance at Philip B. Elfstrom Stadium since being built in 1991 and recently completed $10.5 million in renovations.
I don’t know that there are significant numbers to say that changing affiliates benefits an organization in any specific ways, other than exposure, branding and building loyalty to a group of players. In this case, Geneva, Illinois is 45 minutes from Chicago, so it may inspire misplaced Royals fans in the Windy City to make the trip to the stadium.
The strong attendance won’t hurt either, as tickets and merchandise are always big revenue sources, and it can’t hurt to get an upgrade at the lower levels. And on a small level, maybe the proximity to Chicago makes it easier for one of the Cougars prospects to hop on a plane and head to Wilmington or Arkansas in the case of a promotion.
At any rate, the prospects in the Midwest League can now get used to wearing a KC on their hats. That’s something.