The Chicago Cubs moved their Low-A affiliation from Peoria to Kane County before the 2013 season, and, by all accounts, that move has been a great success. Not only have the Cougars presumably benefited from having a relationship with the local big league team, but the Cubs have also benefited by having a minor league team just outside the city of Chicago. The convenience, alone, for scouting/rehab/transactions/etc. is huge.
From the sound of things, that marriage will continue on into next season. Although the player development contract between the two organizations has not yet been extended – or announced, at least – for next year, there are some pretty strong signals that the relationship will continue.
Primarily: the Cougars will be modifying and improving their player facilities, per the Cubs’ specifications. It’s hard to imagine the Cubs having that kind of input if there wasn’t an expectation that the two sides would stay together for a while.
The Cougars, who are headed to the Midwest League Championship Series, by the way, will be adding a new batting cage, batting tunnels, a second weight room, and a state-of-the-art video facility, among other things. Nothing should be too good for the Cubs’ prospects as they move through the system, as the organization looks to gain every possible edge.
The improvements, which will be privately funded, will also include a bunch of fan amenities, about which you can read more here. The experience of taking in a Kane County game was already pretty awesome, in my humble opinion, and it sounds like it will only get better.
Taken all together, this is great news for both organizations, and for fans who enjoy having one of the Cubs’ farm teams so close to Chicago. Hopefully an announcement on the player development agreement will come soon enough.