Following the news of the Nashville Sounds cutting ties with the Milwaukee Brewers after a 10-year run, the organization didn’t waste much time in landing a new top affiliate.
The Brewers announced a two-year player development contract with the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox on Thursday, a deal that will run through 2016.
"We are looking forward to our partnership with (Sky Sox owner) Dave Elmore and Colorado Springs," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "The Brewers have a familiarity with the Elmore group, Dave and D.G., and their understanding of the player development process. We have had a successful history working with D.G., owner of the Helena Brewers. Many players on our current roster have come up through our minor-league system and we believe that Colorado Springs will continue to help us produce talent at a major-league level."
The Colorado Rockies recently moved to Albuquerque after having used the Sky Sox as their Triple-A affiliate since their inception in 1993. Prior to being affiliated with the Rockies, the Sky Sox were the Triple-A club for the Cleveland Indians from 1988-93.
Much to the dismay of members of the Brewers organization, Nashville signed a four-year player development contract with the Oakland Athletics on Thursday morning, ending a 10-year affiliation with Milwaukee.
The Brewers stuck with the Nashville franchise through years of sub-standard playing conditions at Greer Stadium, only to watch the Sounds kick them to the curb just prior to their new ballpark opening.
By the time Milwaukee received official word that Nashville was going with Oakland, only Fresno and Colorado Springs were left looking for affiliates. Fresno announced a player development contract with the Houston Astros early Thursday, leaving a partnership between the Brewers and Sky Sox inevitable.
"We couldn’t be happier to start the newest era in Sky Sox baseball with a world-class organization like the Milwaukee Brewers," Sky Sox president and general manager Tony Ensor said. "Their long and rich baseball history, as well as their commitment to a winning culture is something that we know our fans will embrace. We can’t wait to get started on this new and exciting partnership."
Because of the distance between Milwaukee and Colorado Springs, there are obvious travel concerns with the new affiliation, located roughly 70 miles south of Denver.
Concerns over the weather conditions, especially early in the season, are also a drawback to playing in Colorado Springs. The elevation of Colorado Springs is 6,035 feet, leaving offensive numbers inflated at Security Service Field
Colorado Springs plays in the Northern Division of the Pacific Coast League with Omaha, Iowa and Oklahoma City. Nashville is part of the Southern Division of the PCL.
With the Sky Sox in the fold, the Brewers have all of their minor-league affiliates set for 2015.
Milwaukee announced a four-year player development contract extension with Double-A Biloxi and a two-year extension with Class-A Advanced Brevard County on Wednesday.
The franchise previously known as the Huntsville Stars is moving to Biloxi, Miss., for the 2015 season. The Brewers began their affiliation with Huntsville in 1999 and with Brevard County in 2005.
"We are excited to extend our contracts with Biloxi and Brevard County," Melvin said. "We look forward to working with Ken Young and his ownership group as the team relocates from Huntsville to Biloxi and into a new ballpark. The top-notch facilities will give our players the necessary tools to further develop into major leaguers."