KC Royals affiliate decisions leave one team in cold

(Photo by Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo by Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports) /

The excruciating wait for announcements of minor league affiliates is finally over. One former KC Royals partner is left without a major league team.

After months of speculation, we finally know the four towns that will be associated with the KC Royals.  Roses were offered to Omaha and Northwest Arkansas which, as we have previously noted, seemed like givens, and the Quad Cities River Bandits and Columbia (South Carolina) Fireflies. The latter two will serve as the Class A teams.

No longer will the Wilmington Blue Rocks and Lexington Legends be part of the growth process for Royal draft picks. Wilmington was picked up by the Washington Nationals and will continue its future in the minor leagues. Lexington, however, was not listed as part of any major league connection.

The Blue Rocks were a long-term connection with Kansas City, having served as its Advanced A team since 1993, except for the 2005-2006 seasons. Five league titles were won by Wilmington during this period and the Blue Rocks saw their share of Royals stars cut their teeth in professional baseball in Delaware.

Lexington joined the franchise in 2013 and was known for its unique logo of a mustache and fun atmosphere. The Legends ended their tenure by winning two consecutive league titles. It is heartbreaking no other team picked them up and we root for them to find their calling in baseball soon.

Two new developmental cities for the KC Royals

The Columbia Fireflies just ended a short relationship with the New York Mets that began in 2016. Their ballpark is only a few years old as that was part of the deal to lure a minor league affiliation to Columbia for the first time since 2004.

The River Bandits are located in Davenport, Iowa, but have used the moniker “Quad Cities” for several decades. They switch from being a Houston Astros affiliate which had been in place since 2013.

Visitors will be in for a treat if they visit Modern Woodman Park that the River Bandits call home.  Features include a Ferris Wheel and a cornfield down the leftfield line that players introduced emerge from.

Going out golden

With this announcement and the previously known breakup of the Rookie Leagues which eliminated Burlington and Idaho Falls from the KC Royals family, it is a sad ending for these relationships. The last year minor league baseball was actually played in 2019, the Blue Rocks, Legends, and Chukars all won league titles.

Kansas City has begun to, or will soon, reap the benefits of the success of these affiliates from that summer. The connection between not only the people who support their local teams but fans of the Royals across the country who in turn cheer for those minor league teams is strong.

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Now that we finally know the minor league setup of the Royals, we can begin to look forward to the 2021 season and hope a slice of normalcy can return after this crazy year.