MILWAUKEE -- Six years after an unceremonious separation, the Brewers are renewing their affiliation with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.
In a formality associated with Major League Baseball’s realignment of the Minor Leagues, the Brewers extended invitations on Wednesday to four affiliates, one new -- Triple-A Nashville -- and three existing -- the Biloxi Shuckers, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Carolina Mudcats. Biloxi will remain a Double-A club, but the other two are switching levels; Wisconsin will now be Class A Advanced, while Carolina will be Class A or “low A.”
The Brewers’ top farmhands played in Nashville from 2005-14 while city officials in the Music City worked on securing funding to build a replacement for historic Greer Stadium. That effort finally culminated in success when First Horizon Park opened in 2015, but the Brewers were left out. Nashville opted to sign a player development contract with the Oakland A’s and the Brewers were left with the only Triple-A team standing in Colorado Springs, Colo. More recently, the Brewers’ Triple-A team had been in San Antonio in another below-average stadium situation.
The new alignment seeks to end the semi-annual affiliate shuffle in favor of pairings that make more geographic sense. With rumors circulating in recent months and various scenarios pointing the Brewers toward Nashville or potentially Wichita, Kan., Milwaukee officials hoped that the result would land them back in Nashville, with its state-of-the-art facility and relatively convenient travel options.
“We are eager to invite these four teams and their communities to join with us in developing tomorrow’s Brewers stars,” said vice president of Minor League operations Tom Flanagan in a statement from the team. “We have a strong development history with each, and we look forward to building upon it in the years ahead.”
The Sounds won the Pacific Coast League championship as a Brewers affiliate in 2005, with Prince Fielder hitting 28 home runs when he wasn’t in the big leagues making his debut, Corey Hart hitting 17 homers and Nelson Cruz leading the way late after a midseason promotion. In subsequent years, future All-Stars Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo, Jonathan Lucroy and Lorenzo Cain all made Nashville their final stop before Milwaukee.
“We are excited to receive the invitation to become the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers today,” said Sounds general manager Adam Nuse. “Led by [Brewers principal owner] Mark Attanasio and [president of baseball operations] David Stearns, the Brewers are an organization that places a strong emphasis on player development. The Sounds still need to have the overall agreement with Major League Baseball formalized before any affiliation can be finalized. Once that occurs, we look forward to building the relationship and reintroducing Milwaukee Brewers baseball to the city of Nashville.”
The Brewers since 2009 have been affiliated with the Timber Rattlers, who play in Grand Chute, Wis., about 100 miles north of Milwaukee, and it's a convenient destination for players in need of a brief rehab assignment during the summer. The Shuckers have been Milwaukee’s Double-A affiliate since 2015, when they debuted in another new, start-of-the-art ballpark, and the Mudcats since '17, when the Brewers purchased the team.
“We are happy to continue the excellent relationship that has been developed with the Brewers,” said Shuckers GM Hunter Reed. “This invitation ensures we have an opportunity to maintain our long-term partnership in Biloxi with a familiar organization, and we are excited for the years to come.”
“We are pleased to be invited to continue our partnership with the Brewers,” said Timber Rattlers president Rob Zerjav. “We have had a very positive relationship with the team for the past 12 years and look forward to our ongoing affiliation.”