ST. PETERSBURG -- Under Major League Baseball’s new player development structure, which includes some reconfiguration of the Minor Leagues, the Rays’ system will look different beginning in 2021.
On Wednesday, Tampa Bay extended an invite to Triple-A Durham, Double-A Montgomery, Class A Advanced Bowling Green and Class A Charleston to become the organization’s four Minor League affiliates moving forward.
There were no changes with Durham and Montgomery, which remained as the Rays’ Triple-A and Double-A affiliates, respectively. Bowling Green would also remain in Tampa Bay's system, though it will now serve as the organization’s Class A Advanced team.
Tampa Bay’s new Class A affiliate, the Charleston RiverDogs, was previously affiliated with the Yankees from 2005-20. Before that, the RiverDogs were part of the Rays’ system from 1997-2004. The Minor League team also had stints with the Rangers, Padres and Royals.
“We are thrilled for the opportunity to continue parenting with our friends in Durham, Montgomery and Bowling Green in developing the next wave of Rays players. They have been tremendous partners,” said Rays vice president of player development and international scouting Carlos Rodriguez. “Likewise, our relationship with Charleston many years ago was very fruitful. The RiverDogs staff and fans create an environment where young prospects can flourish and grow, and we are excited to invite them back in to the Rays family.”
The other notable change in the Rays’ Minor League plans is that the organization will no longer have a full-season team in Port Charlotte, Fla., which served as an affiliate since 2007. The reason behind the change from Port Charlotte to Charleston comes due to the fact that the Florida State League was trimmed down and shifted from Class A Advanced to Class A.
Port Charlotte will continue to host Spring Training as well as the Gulf Coast League Rays, which is designed for entry-level Minor League draftees and signees. But with the Class A affiliate now in Charleston, Tampa Bay no longer has a full-season Minor League affiliate in the state of Florida, making injury rehab assignments much more challenging. Last season, the Rays used the Port Charlotte complex to serve as the alternate training site because of the convenient 90-minute drive to Tropicana Field.
“The Rays would like to thank the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Hudson Valley Renegades and Princeton Rays for their many years of affiliation with our organization,” said general manager Erik Neander. “The Rays were very fortunate to have close, longstanding relationships at every level, and we appreciate the pivotal role all our affiliates play in helping our players develop on their journeys to the big leagues.”