eugene emeralds logoThe Chicago Cubs have had a very busy affiliate shuffle season, changing three of their minor league affiliates – all three of their A-level teams – in the last week. At High-A, the Cubs are now affiliated with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League, and at full-season Low-A, the Cubs are now affiliated with the South Bend Somethings (more on that one later this week).

At short-season Low-A, the Cubs are staying in the Northwest League, but leaving Boise in favor of Eugene, Oregon. There, they’ll pair up with the Emeralds – I dig that logo, man – with whom they were actually affiliated some 15ish years ago.

It was a poorly-kept secret that the Cubs had been unhappy with their facilities in Boise for quite some time, and the move to Eugene is unsurprising in that regard. The Emeralds share facilities with the Oregon Ducks baseball team at PK Park, which was just constructed in 2010. It’s state-of-the-art, especially as short-season franchise facilities go, and the Cubs are probably pretty excited to make the switch.



And, what do you know, they are.

“We are looking forward to working with Allan Benavides and the entire Emeralds organization, and are eager to begin working with the local community,” said Jason McLeod, the Cubs Senior Vice President, Scouting and Player Development, in a statement. “The Eugene ballclub offers a first-class facility at the University of Oregon, one of the most impressive facilities in short-season baseball.”

Sweet.

The player development contract is for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Some more on the Cubs’ new Northwest League Affiliate:

  • PK Park seats 4,000, which is about 500 more than Memorial Stadium, where the Boise Hawks play.
  • Speaking of the ballparks, you will probably notice an extreme shift in park factors when looking at prospect stats in the coming years. The Cubs will be going from one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the Northwest League to what appears to be the most pitcher-friendly parks. And the difference, according to MiLB.com’s research is pretty stark: over the past six seasons, Memorial Stadium featured more hits, homers, and runs than average for the NWL (factors of 1.111, 1.022, and 1.142, respectively), while PK Park was way, way below average (factors of 0.846, 0.773, 0.767, respectively). We’ll have to keep that in mind as we evaluate prospect performance.
  • In the move, not only do the Cubs stay in the Northwest League, but they also stay in the same division. So many grudge matches with the Boise Hawks!
  • For those who need a refresher: the short-season Low-A team is below the full-season Low-A team (formerly Kane County, now South Bend), and above the Rookie League team (Mesa). It’s called the short-season Low-A team, naturally, because the season is shorter than a full season. That allows young players an opportunity to adjust to professional ball, and also accommodate new signees from the draft.


  • I pretty much love this:




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