On Wednesday, the Kane County Cougars announced that they had agreed to a player development contract (PDC) with the Cubs. As a result, the Royals were left without an affiliate at the Low A level.
Enter the Lexington Legends of the South Atlantic League. The Royals and Legends agreed to a PDC through 2016.
According to Bob Dutton, the Royals had been looking to land in the SAL for a while due to “weather issues”. Generally the temperatures are warmer in Kentucky in April and May than in Kane County, which is near Chicago. As the lowest full season league in the organization, this could allow some prospects who signed late or only played in instructionals after the draft to start at that level with less adjustments if they’re “warm weather” players (and since many come from California, Florida, Texas or sign out of Latin America, this is often the case).
Lexington was formerly the Low A affiliate of the Houston Astros. The Royals had been affiliated with Kane County for two years starting in 2010.
The Royals other affiliates remain as they were this year. They’ve always used Omaha as an affiliate, while they’ve been in Northwest Arkansas since 2008 after having their Double A affiliation in Wichita and they’ll stay there until 2016.
Wilmington’s PDC lasts until after 2014 and the Royals rookie level teams, Idaho Falls and Burlington were just renewed through 2014.
PDCs will last two or four years. There’s usually some shuffling every other year but typically not largescale shifts.
Some players who are likely to play in Lexington next spring are Bubba Starling, Kyle Smith, Sam Selman, Fred Ford, Christian Binford, Humberto Arteaga and others from the Royals rookie league teams could start the year there with an eye towards Wilmington and further advancement within the organization.