The new Pioneer League team in Colorado Springs, which is relocating from Helena, will be known as the Rocky Mountain Vibes. I thought that the Colorado Springs Sky Sox was a pretty good name, but they wanted to go in a new direction with the new team. Since their name isn’t a tangible object, they have lots of room for interpretation on how to incorporate a vibe into their identity. I do wish that they had kept the Colorado Springs name rather than Rocky Mountain, although I don’t think that Colorado Springs Vibes would have been an option.
The new AA Texas League team in Amarillo which is relocating from San Antonio will be known as the Amarillo Sod Poodles. It is disappointing that another team picked a nickname for a local animal that few outside of that area would have any idea what they were talking about. But it must check all of the boxes for the minor league teams that take this approach.
The Astros High A affiliate in the Carolina League relocating from its temporary home in Buies Creek will be known as the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. I knew they wouldn’t choose the name of Generals that was previously used in Fayetteville, but Woodpeckers isn’t a bad choice, although some of the nicknames from there aren’t all that appealing. And I am glad that they are referencing Fayetteville in the name, unlike the last team in Fayetteville, the Cape Fear Crocs.
The Chicago Cubs have extended their player development contracts with the Iowa Cubs, Tennessee Smokies, Myrtle Beach Pelicans and South Bend Cubs to 2022. As they previously extended their contract with the Eugene Emeralds, all of the Cubs affiliate are set for the next four years. It’s interesting to see the Cubs make such long term plans without going the route of a team like the Braves which owns most of its affiliates.
The Syracuse Chiefs have changed their name to the Syracuse Mets. This is following suit with the new affiliation with the New York Mets. It is disappointing to have the Syracuse team lose its own identity and lose the Chiefs name that it’s had for so many years. But the team thinks that the Mets branding will provide the most merchandise sales.
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos have signed a player development contract with the Twins to 2020. This is the final affiliate change as the window has closed for any changes in this cycle. As a result, I updated the items that were unknown on my list to remain with their current team, even though I never saw an official contract announcement. Although I’m sure a few will come out in the next few days.
Overall, there were 10 teams that changed affiliations, and 5 were at the AAA level. There was a two-team switch at AA and a three-way move at Low A. I know there are others out there like myself who find this time interesting, but it does seem like we are getting to the point where all teams are happy with where they are (except maybe the Nationals in Fresno). But 150 of 160 teams kept the same affiliation, so that shows strong relationships.
The Lake Elsinore Storm have extended their player development contract with the Padres to 2020. The Storm have been a Padres affiliate since 2001. I guess the Padres just wanted to wait until the end to make contract extensions.