It was a busy day, but yesterday’s biggest news was probably the announcement that the Chicago Cubs are officially moving their High-A minor league affiliation from Daytona to Myrtle Beach. When the Cubs’ player development contract with the Daytona Cubs expired last week without a renewal, it became clear that a move was possible. And, then, when the period to negotiate with other teams opened up, the Cubs almost immediately announced the move.
With all due love to the Daytona Cubs and the Florida State League, clearly the Cubs were looking to go elsewhere.
In a statement about the transition to Myrtle Beach, Cubs VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod said, “We are excited to reach an agreement with Myrtle Beach and begin working with Chairman Chuck Greenberg and General Manager and Vice President Andy Milovich. Myrtle Beach is a well-respected franchise that will serve as a beneficial destination for our young players. We look forward to developing a successful relationship with the franchise and community. We would also like to thank Daytona for the organization’s dedication and professionalism in the past 22 seasons. We appreciate all their efforts and have the utmost respect for Andy Rayburn, Josh Lawther and the entire Daytona front office.”
For their part, the Pelicans are excited to be paired up with the Cubs.
In the same release from the Cubs, Pelicans GM and VP Andy Milovich said, “The Cubs are an iconic national brand. The success of our business is determined by fan interest, the quality of baseball and the impact on Myrtle Beach from a tourism perspective. In each of these instances, the Chicago Cubs clearly offered the most upside. The Cubs strengthen the Pelicans brand in a way that few, if any, other major league franchises could. Cubs fans can now visit their future stars in one of the iconic vacation destination spots in the U.S.”
From a fan perspective, that’s certainly all spot on – even as you understandably feel for Cubs fans in the Daytona area who are now left without a nearby attachment to the Cubs.
Much more on the new High-A digs:
- Myrtle Beach is obviously incrementally closer to Chicago (and AA Tennessee) than Daytona, which does make a slight difference. Know the Durham Bulls? That’s what the Pelicans used to be before moving to Myrtle Beach. The Bulls are still around, by the way – they’re now a Rays affiliate in the AAA International League.
- The Pelicans – and, yes, they are staying the Pelicans – play at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Park in Myrtle Beach, which was first built in 1999, and sits up to 6,600 (largest in the Carolina League). By contrast, Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona seats about 4,200.
- One of the biggest changes, of course, is the move from the Florida State League to the Carolina League. The thing you want to know immediately: is it as pitcher-friendly as the FSL? Well, almost. The FSL has been, in recent years, the most pitcher-friendly minor league in all of baseball. The Carolina League, then, by definition must be a little better. But not much: the FSL was averaging 4.2 runs per game from 2008 to 2013, while the Carolina league was at 4.5 runs. The average slugging in the FSL was .372, and in the Carolina League was .386.
- On the whole, the Carolina League is still a pitcher-leaning league – very similar, in fact, to the two leagues that slot above (Southern League) and below (Midwest League) for the Cubs. That’s probably a good thing for continuity in development.
- It looks like TicketReturn.com Field is just about neutral, in terms of ballpark factors, compared with other Carolina League stadiums. Maybe just a touch harder in which to hit homers.
- The FSL featured 12 teams, while the Carolina League has just 8. The Pelicans play in the Southern Division. You can see a geographic map of the league here, in case you’re wondering where else the Pelicans will play.
- Fingers crossed for 2015, but, as of 2014, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, unlike the Daytona Cubs, were included on MiLB.tv. MOAR PROSPECT VIDEOS.
- For those wondering: no, the Cubs don’t lose any players in this transaction. Minor leaguers are contracted to the organization, not the individual minor league team. Players in the Cubs org stay in the Cubs org, wherever they end up playing.
- I like the Pelicans’ logo, by the way. Best part? The Pelican looks like he’s got quite a bit of rage lurking just below the fluffy surface.
- The Pelicans got right into things on Twitter (and yes, those are former Pelicans Neil Ramirez, Mike Olt, and Justin Grimm (you could throw in Kyle Hendricks, too)):
— MyrtleBeachPelicans (@Pelicanbaseball) September 16, 2014