KANSAS CITY -- In the ever-changing landscape of Minor League Baseball, the Royals made offers to four communities Wednesday to serve as their affiliates for the 2021 season.
As expected, the Royals made offers to Triple-A Omaha and Double-A Northwest Arkansas, continuing their long traditions in those communities.
The Royals also have extended offers to the Quad Cities (Iowa) for what will be their Class A Advanced affiliate, and Columbia, S.C., as their Class A affiliate, though those distinctions won’t be official anymore.
Each of the four invited affiliates will be required to agree to the Player Development Licenses issued by Major League Baseball to officially become an affiliate of the Royals’ organization, a step that will likely be completed at some point after the first of the new year.
With Wednesday’s developments, the Royals no longer will be affiliated with Class A Advanced Wilmington, Class A Lexington, or Rookie-level teams Idaho Falls and Burlington.
“Each one of these clubs has played an integral role in the success of our franchise, and for that we cannot thank them enough for how they’ve taken care of our players,” said J.J. Picollo, Royals vice president and assistant general manager of player personnel. “Each stop along the Minor League route, these clubs have literally been caretakers of our athletes while also providing the championship culture we strive for organizationally.”
Wilmington had been the Royals’ Class A Advanced affiliate for 26 years (1993-2004 and 2007-20), playing in the Carolina League. During their partnership with the Royals, the Blue Rocks won six division titles, as well as five Carolina League championships, including most recently in 2019, their last year of competition.
In a news release, the Royals expressed thanks to the ownership group, led by Dave Heller of Main Street Baseball, as well as the previous majority owners -- the Minker family. The Royals named an organizational award in Matt Minker’s honor for excellence in Minor League service, while his son, Clark, served as principal owner after Matt’s passing.
The Lexington Legends had been the Royals’ Class A affiliate since 2013 as a member of the South Atlantic League. During their partnership for the last eight years, the Legends were two-time division champions and won back-to-back South Atlantic League titles in 2018 and 2019, their last two years of competition. In a news release, the Royals expressed gratitude to owners Susan Martinelli Shea and Andy Shea, who also serves as team president, as well as the front office, the city of Lexington, the stadium support staff and the fans.
Idaho Falls has been a Royals Rookie-level affiliate since 2004 as a member of the Pioneer League. During their partnership, which spanned 17 years, the Chukars won four division titles and were two-time Pioneer League champions, in 2013 and 2019, their last year of competition. In a news release, the Royals expressed thanks to the ownership group, Elmore Sports Group, led by Dave & DG Elmore, as well as long-time general manager Kevin Greene and the city of Idaho Falls.
The Burlington Royals have been a Kansas City Rookie-level affiliate since 2007 as a member of the Appalachian League. During their partnership, the B-Royals have made four playoff appearances and reached the Appalachian League finals three times.
Major League Baseball recently announced that it has teamed with Prep Baseball Report to form the MLB Draft League -- a new summer league that will allow the nation’s top Draft-eligible players to compete in a 68-game season beginning next year.