The Texas Rangers have ditched the California League’s Bakersfield Blaze as an affiliate and announced a player development contract with the Carolina League’s Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Chuck Greenberg, the managing partner and CEO for the Rangers, owns the Pelicans, so this move was not unanticipated.
RESS RELEASE – The Myrtle Beach Pelicans unveiled an exciting, new chapter in team history on Friday with the announcement that the franchise has entered into a brand-new, four-year Player Development Contract (PDC) with the Texas Rangers. The PDC agreement designates the Pelicans as the Rangers’ Class A-Advanced Carolina League affiliate through the 2014 season.
The announcement was made at a Friday afternoon press conference held at BB&T Coastal Field, the home of the Pelicans. Pelicans Chairman and Managing Partner Chuck Greenberg, who recently assumed his role as Managing Partner and CEO of the Texas Rangers, delivered the news along with Rangers’ General Manager Jon Daniels and Pelicans’ GM Scott Brown.
In addition, the clubs jointly announced that Myrtle Beach will host a major league spring training exhibition game involving the Rangers on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at BB&T Coastal Field. Details of the exhibition game, including the opponent, will be announced at a later date, but the contest will offer fans along the Grand Strand the possibility to see star Rangers’ players like Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, Vladimir Guerrero, Ian Kinsler and Cliff Lee as well as former Pelicans Elvis Andrus and Jeff Francoeur in the intimate setting of one of Minor League Baseball’s most unique and fan-friendly ballparks.
“Because of my roles with both the Pelicans and Rangers, I have the unique thrill of being able to enjoy the announcement of this partnership from both sides,” said Greenberg. “From the Pelicans perspective, we are excited to affiliate with a talent-rich and proven player development system that is committed to winning a Carolina League championship and supporting our front office in furthering the strong bond between the Pelicans and our fans throughout the Greater Grand Strand community.”
“The March 29 exhibition game will be a fitting way to kick off what will be a long, healthy partnership between the Pelicans and Rangers,” added Greenberg. “Major league exhibition games in minor league affiliate ballparks are not common these days, but our ability to bring this event to our fans demonstrates the value the Rangers see in this new affiliation with the Myrtle Beach community & the Grand Strand region.”
Daniels, who along with his baseball operations staff helped make the moves at the big league level that put the Rangers currently atop of the American League West standings by 10 games over the 2nd place A’s, commented “We’ve heard tremendous things about the facility and community, and our entire minor league staff and players are energized by this new partnership. My visit here today raises my excitement level for our big league club’s return in March as well as the season-long development of future Texas Rangers beginning in April.”
The Pelicans will be changing major league affiliates for the first time in the 12-year history of the franchise. Since the club’s inaugural 1999 season, the team had served as the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.
“We have nothing but great things to say about our 12 years as an Atlanta Braves affiliate,” said Brown, who recently completed his first season as Myrtle Beach GM . “Atlanta did nothing to lose our trust in them as an affiliate, but no other major league affiliate is going to be as invested in the health and stability of our franchise than the Rangers, especially under Chuck and Nolan Ryan’s ownership and their continuing involvement in Minor League Baseball as club owners.”
The Rangers’ minor league system, under the direction of Ryan, Daniels, Assistant GM Thad Levine and Director of Player Development Scott Servais is regarded as one of baseball’s best, not only in the depth of talent throughout the organization but in the team’s proven development philosophies. ESPN has lauded the Rangers minor league system as the best in Major League Baseball each of the last two years, while Baseball America has ranked Texas first and second in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Rangers’ minor league affiliates backed up those lofty ratings this summer. The system set a club-record for affiliates in post-season play in 2010, as six of seven farm clubs advanced to the playoffs. Texas affiliates combined to compile the 7th-best winning percentage (403-352, .532) in the minor leagues, with all but one club finishing with a record above .500. The Spokane Indians (Class A-Short Season) advanced to the Northwest League Championship before falling in their best-of-three series. Individually, Texas had 18 prospects named to their respective league’s All-Star games and five to post-season All-Star teams. The system also produced two league Pitchers of the Year, one league MVP, and one Manager of the Year.
The Pelicans will take the field in 2011 as one of two new Ranger minor league affiliates, joining the Triple-A Round Rock Express of the Pacific Coast League. Other Texas farm clubs are the Frisco (TX) Roughriders (AA/Texas League), Hickory (NC) Crawdads (Low A/South Atlantic), Spokane (WA) Indians (Short A/Northwest), Arizona League Rangers (Rookie) and Dominican Summer League Rangers (Rookie).