The Advanced-Rookie Appalachian League team marks the return of Pittsburgh to the Twin Cities. The Bristol Twins played in the League from in 1952 and 1953 as a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, when future big leaguer Ron Necciai set a professional record by recording 27 strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
“We are excited to welcome Pittsburgh back to Bristol and to the Appalachian League as we get ready for the 2014 season,” said Mahlon Luttrell, President of Bristol Baseball, Inc. Luttrell will serve as general manager for the Bristol-based team.
“The Pittsburgh organization is a top-notch one,” Luttrell continued. “We’ve all seen their great performance on the field this season, and we could not be happier about having them join us here in Bristol.”
The Bristol team will join a nine-team Pittsburgh farm system which includes the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates, the Short-Season A Jamestown Jammers, the A-level West Virginia Power, the high A-level Bradenton Marauders, the AA Altoona Curve and the AAA Indianapolis Indians. Pittsburgh also operates two Dominican Summer League teams in the Dominican Republic.
In 2013, Pittsburgh’s minor league affiliates combined to post a .530 winning percentage, seventh-best among all Major League organizations. Six of Pittsburgh’s affiliates posted records of .500 or better, and five advanced to postseason play. Earlier this year, Baseball America ranked Pittsburgh as the seventh-best farm system in terms of overall talent.
Pittsburgh’s Director of Minor League Operations, Larry Broadway, echoed Luttrell’s comments.
“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 Broadway. “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 that enters into our system.”
Luttrell emphasized that the off-the-field operations will remain in the hands of Bristol Baseball, Inc., the locally-based non-profit charitable organization, which has kept professional baseball in Bristol continuously since 1969.
“Bristol Baseball, Inc. generates nearly $2.8 million for the local economy,” he noted. “Unlike most non-profits, Bristol Baseball, Inc. has no full-time paid staff, allowing it to keep its administrative costs low, and provide more benefits to the community, including some of the lowest ticket, souvenir and concession prices in all of professional baseball.”
Appalachian League President Lee Landers also welcomed the Pirates to Bristol and the Appalachian League.
“It’s my pleasure to welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates into the Appalachian League,” Landers said. “It is always exciting when class organizations would like to join the Appalachian League, especially when it’s an old friend.”
“Neal Huntington, Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager, has been a director in the league when he was in charge of the Cleveland Indians minor league system,” Landers continued. “Larry Broadway, Pittsburgh’s Director of Minor League Operations, is an up-and-coming executive who has already made a name for himself and is well-respected among his peers.”
Pittsburgh has also maintained Appalachian League affiliates in Princeton, West Virginia; Salem, Virginia; and Kingsport, Tennessee in the past.
For all the latest information on your hometown Bristol team, follow them today on Twitter @PiratesNBristol and http://www.BristolBaseball.com. Future team information, as well as additional web sites and social media information, will be forthcoming.