The 30 MLB teams announced the teams that they are “inviting” to continue in affiliation with them in 2021 and the Colorado Rockies are the only team that has a team that is yet to be determined.
The 30 MLB teams announced their minor league affiliates on Wednesday morning and according to Baseball America (subscription required), the Colorado Rockies are the only team to not have all of their minor league affiliates determined. That affiliate is their low-A affiliate and it is for a reason.
As we mentioned in part one of our four-part exclusive conversation with Rockies assistant GM and farm director Zach Wilson, the Rockies had a team in Advanced-A ball in the California League. As a part of MLB teams trimming their minor league affiliates, the California League will be moving to Low-A. The Washington Nationals also dropped their Triple-A team, the Fresno Grizzlies, in favor of the Rochester Red Wings in Rochester, New York. Rochester, themselves, were dropped by the Twins, who are relocating their Triple-A team to St.Paul, Minnesota so that it is much closer.
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As a result, Fresno is without affiliation. MLB demanded that Fresno either drop to Low-A from Triple-A or not have a team at all. If they do agree to drop to Low-A, they will become the Rockies affiliate there and the Rockies affiliate in the California League, the Lancaster JetHawks, would be eliminated. If Fresno decides to drop baseball in general, the Rockies would stay in Lancaster.
Either way, the Rockies will have at least one affiliate change anyway. The Rockies Triple-A and Double-A homes will remain the same as they will be located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Hartford, Connecticut. However, their High-A affiliate will now be in Spokane, Washington.
As a result, the Rockies’ affiliations in Boise, Idaho, Asheville, North Carolina, and Grand Junction, Colorado will no longer be there. We already knew that Grand Junction would not be returning as their entire league will no longer be directly affiliated with MLB but it will be an independent, partner league with MLB.
But now, three of the eight teams in the Pioneer League will reside in Colorado: the Northern Colorado Owlz (which is partially owned by Rockies broadcaster and former Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs), the Grand Junction Rockies (partially owned by Rockies owner Dick Monfort), and the Rocky Mountain Vibes, which calls Colorado Springs home, where the Rockies had their Triple-A affiliate from 1993 through 2014.
More will be developing on the Rockies minor league situation in the coming days so stay tuned to Rox Pile for the breaking news.
Note: On Wednesday afternoon, the Fresno city leaders announced that the Grizzlies would be a Class A affiliate of the Rockies. Read about it here.