It's Official Now! Twins Invite Affiliates
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins DailyThe news really came out about a week ago when the Star Tribune announced that it was happening, but it became official this morning. (full list of 119 'invitations" that were sent out by MLB teams this morning)
There are many reasons for the Twins affiliation changes, even beyond the fact that MLB has been in process of making these changes for a couple of seasons. There is proximity, both between the Twins and their AAA affiliate and their rookie level campus/spring training site and the Low-A affiliate.
Ultimately, teams want what's best for their player development.
Derek Falvey points out, "Quality player development is the core of a winning baseball organization. These potential affiliations - both new and sustained - put us in prime position to continue to build on our recent major league success."
In one of baseball's worst-kept secrets, the St. Paul Saints are the Twins new Triple-A affiliate. They were part of the Northern League before the league became the American Association. They have become one of the most famous independent league teams in baseball. 19 former Saints have eventually made it to the big leagues including former Twins reliever Brandon Kintzler and current Twins lefty Caleb Thielbar (twice).
Twins President & CEO Dave St. Peter notes, "The Minnesota Twins are ecstatic about the potential to form a partnership with the St. Paul Saints. We are incredibly excited at the thought of Minnesota baseball fans having the opportunity to watch their favorite Twins prospects as they wear the Saints uniform and play at gorgeous CHS Field."
For those wondering about the Saints in-game experience, Saints chairman Marv Goldklang noted, " During my conversations with Jim Pohlad and Dave St. Peter leading up to the decision to move forward with our partnership, with the exception of players on the field, they don't expect much, if anything, to change in terms of the experience of attending a Saints' game."
In the Fargo Forum, the FM RedHawks GM Matt Rau said that it's exciting for the Saints.
“The overall feeling is that we’re really excited for them, but sad to see them go,” said RedHawks general manager Matt Rau said. “It’s an incredible opportunity for that organization. While it stings a little to lose a member and a great member like the Saints, it’s really a feather in that hat of that organization. That proves how well they have been run over the years.”
The Rochester Red Wings were invited to be the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. There are a lot of great people who work with the Red Wings and the Twins had nearly two decades in western New York. Josh Whetzel is as good as it gets on the microphone. Nate Rowan, who is from Minnesota, is their media relations director and has been very helpful through the years. Thank you to them from Twins Daily, but also just personally from me.
The Wichita Wind Surge play in Riverfront Stadium in downtown Wichita. The stadium broke ground in 2019 and has an overall capacity of over 10,000 fans.
Falvey noted also, "The brand new facility in Wichita and what we've learned about the rich history and passionate baseball fanbase there creates fantastic new possibilities in Double-A."
Wind Surge Partner and CEO Jordan Kobritz noted, "The Wichita Wind Surge are pleased that the Minnesota Twins have invited the team to become one of their minor league affiliates."
On another note, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos received their invitation from the Miami Marlins to be their AA affiliate in 2021.
Blue Wahoos owner Quint Studer said, "Our entire organization would like to pass along our gratitude to the Minnesota Twins for their partnership with the Blue Wahoos over the past two years. On the field, they provided a playoff-caliber team for us. Off the field, they were excellent business and community partners, recently making a generous donation to hurricane relief efforts in our city. We wish the Twins nothing but the best."
On a side note, I would like to thank Wahoos media relations guru Dan Venn for being great for Twins Daily to work with. He is a Minnesota native in Pensacola and has done a great job with the Blue Wahoos the past two years. He will also be helping with the Beloit Snappers who will be a High-A affiliate of the Marlins now. The Snappers are now owned by the Studer family as well. Thank you Dan!
The Cedar Rapids have been a Twins affiliate since 2012. However, the Midwest League is now a High-A affiliate.
Twins Director of Player Development, Alex Hassan, noted, "From top to bottom, the Cedar Rapids Kernels are a first-class organization. Over the years, they've been tremendous partners to the Minnesota Twins and an integral part of our player development process. We would be thrilled to see that partnership continue for many years to come."
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley noted, "I am pleased that the Cedar Rapids Kernels remain an affiliate with the Minnesota Twins. I fondly remember going to Minor League Baseball games growing up. It is exciting that the Cedar Rapids community will continue to enjoy America's national pastime with this team that has so many Iowa fans."
With that, the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels will now be the Twins Low-A affiliate as the Florida State League is now a Low-A league. The Twins have been in Ft. Myers for 27 seasons and Hammond Stadium have been the Twins spring training site since 1991.
Andy Kaufmann, managing owner of the Mighty Mussels, said, "The Mussels organization is thrilled to be continuing the long-term partnership with the Minnesota Twins for many years and generations to come."
The Twins have always placed an emphasis on player development and building from within. Much of their current big league roster came from inside the organization and that's important to long-term sustainable success.
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