PITTSBURGH -- With the intent of giving more playing time to more of their lower-level prospects, the Pirates on Wednesday entered into an agreement with Bristol, Va., of the rookie-level Appalachian League.
Bristol joins the organization's system as a ninth Minor League affiliate for the 2014 season. It becomes the Bucs' second rookie-level team, with the Gulf Coast Pirates.
The agreement marks the return of the Pirates' presence in the Appalachian League for the first time since 1989, when the organization fielded the Princeton Pirates.
"We are looking forward to expanding our development system into the Appalachian League as well as beginning a new relationship with the fans and staff in Bristol, Virginia," said Larry Broadway, Pittsburgh director of Minor League operations. "As we continue to invest in the draft and Latin America, the addition of an advanced Rookie League team provides us another opportunity to maximize the development time of every player who enters into our system."
Bristol will compete in the Appalachian League's five-team West Division with Kingsport (New York Mets), Greeneville (Astros), Elizabethton (Twins) and Johnson City (Cardinals).
In addition to the Gulf Coast Pirates, seven other affiliates will be back in the club's system in 2014: Indianapolis Indians (Triple-A International League), Altoona Curve (Double-A, Eastern League), Bradenton Marauders (High-A Florida State League), West Virginia Power (Class A South Atlantic League), Jamestown Jammers (Short-season New York-Penn League), Dominican Summer League Pirates 1 and 2.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.