A few teams fire the first cannon shots into what may lie ahead for all affiliates, including those tied to the KC Royals.
Instead of a broad announcement of the changes coming to minor league franchises coming from Major League Baseball, the individual teams are dropping bombshells of their own timing. One has to wonder if the KC Royals will be making any changes and, if so, when they will be announced.
One American Central Division rival, the Minnesota Twins, have formally parted ways with the Rochester Red Wings. The Red Wings had served as the Triple A affiliate of the Twins for 18 years. Although not official, it is expected their new AAA club will be across the river in St. Paul.
Not one to be outdone, the New York Yankees made two decisions in the last week regarding where their minor league teams will be located. It drew fiery responses from the clubs losing their connection to the Bronx Bombers.
The common thinking has been due to their proximity and long-term relationship with the Royals, the Omaha Storm Chasers would continue in that role. However, the two above stories show that neither of those attributes necessarily matter.
Northwest Arkansas seems extremely safe as the KC Royals have already announced they will play a preseason game at Arvest Park next spring. The shakier connection seems to be with the Lexington Legends and Wilmington Blue Rocks as the lower levels of minor league ball are more susceptible to change.
Major League Baseball could do everyone a huge favor and make a broad announcement at once as opposed to individual teams dropping bombs here and there. Once a club confirms a change in their system it leads to questions about other doors opening and shutting for other franchises. A big mess and disservice to owners, fans, and those who rely on income from the affiliates.
Burlington embraces new identity search
One former affiliate of the Royals is located in Burlington, North Carolina. Although it was extremely disappointing news for them to lose the connection to a major league franchise, they have been very proactive in promoting their new role.
They will be part of the Appalachian League that will feature college freshmen and sophomores who are identified as rising stars. Currently, Burlington is seeking fan input as to what the new nickname of the team should be. They are not only asking for suggestions, but probe into why it is a good identity for the region.
We wish them great success in their new format and will miss the connection as a farm team for the KC Royals.
Stay tuned, the next few weeks will hopefully give us answers as to what the 2021 minor league connections will look like. It does appear it will be a smooth roll-out, unfortunately.