The Washington Nationals have invited the following four organizations to become Minor League affiliates in Major League Baseball’s new player development structure, pending acceptance of the invitation. Those affiliates are as follows:
“We are very excited to extend the invitations to these four affiliates and their communities,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo. “All four affiliates are located in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, with Harrisburg, Wilmington and Fredericksburg located within 120 miles of Nationals Park. Wilmington and Fredericksburg are easily accessible via the I-95 corridor. Our four affiliates and their proximity to Washington, D.C. will be critical not only to player development and roster construction, but also to our injury rehabilitation process. We are certain that each affiliate and the surrounding community will be assets to our player development and organization as a whole.”
The Red Wings spent the previous 18 seasons (2003-20) as the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Prior to that 18-year run with the Twins, the Red Wings were affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles for 42 years (1961-2002) and the St. Louis Cardinals for 32 seasons (1929-60). They were originally founded in 1899. The Red Wings play their home games at Frontier Field, a downtown Rochester facility with a seating capacity of more than 13,000.
“We are pleased to have received the invitation, and we hope that the terms put forward by Major League Baseball will be acceptable,” said Rochester Red Wings President/CEO/COO Naomi Silver. “Once we receive the full details from MLB, we’ll be evaluating the proposal carefully to assure that it works for our team, the fans and the community before formally accepting.”
The Harrisburg Senators will continue to serve as Washington’s Double-A affiliate as they have since 2005. Prior to baseball’s return to D.C. in 2005, the Senators spent 14 seasons (1991-2004) as the Double-A affiliate of the Montreal Expos. The Harrisburg organization and the surrounding community have been key to the development of the homegrown talent that has been integral to Washington’s success at the Major League level.
“We are happy to have received the invitation to remain the Double-A affiliate for the Nationals,” said Kevin Kulp, Senators Team President. “The support that the Senators & FNB Field receive from community leaders, ownership, fans, team partners, local media, and so many others makes our spot on City Island one of the best in Minor League Baseball and we’re excited for baseball to return in 2021.”
The Wilmington Blue Rocks join the Nationals after spending 26 of the last 28 seasons (1993-2004, 2007-20) as the Kansas City Royals Single-A Carolina League affiliate. They spent two seasons (2005-06) as an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The Blue Rocks play their home games at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium, a facility that opened when the organization relocated to Wilmington, Delaware in 1993.
“Clark Minker and I can’t wait to welcome the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals to Wilmington,” said Blue Rocks owner Dave Heller. “They are a team of great integrity which prides itself on doing the right things the right way. A championship community deserves a championship team, and from our first communications with Mark Lerner, Mike Rizzo and Mark Scialabba, we knew the Nationals were a first-class organization and a perfect fit for Wilmington. We couldn’t be more excited about the future!”
The Fredericksburg Nationals return as one of Washington’s Single-A affiliates, extending the partnership that has been in place since 2005. Only 55 miles from Nationals Park, Washington utilized the new stadium facilities in Fredericksburg, Virginia, as its Alternate Training Site during the 2020 season. Formerly known as the Potomac Nationals, this affiliate has been dedicated to helping develop eventual Major Leaguers and has been an asset in the rehabilitation process for injured players.
“We are thrilled to be continuing an incredible and deep relationship with the Washington Nationals that began with their arrival in D.C. back in 2005,” said FredNats Chairman and Owner Art Silber. “We’ve enjoyed watching the Nats’ future stars - like Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Ryan Zimmerman, and Stephen Strasburg - grow up and develop in front of our fans. The continuation of our long relationship will allow fans throughout the greater Fredericksburg region to enjoy seeing the next stars of the Nationals play in front of their eyes in our new ballpark opening in 2021 in Fredericksburg.”
The Washington Nationals also issued the following statements regarding the Fresno Grizzlies and Hagerstown Suns:
“The Washington Nationals would like to thank the Fresno Grizzlies for their partnership the last two seasons. Although it was short, the Grizzlies organization was a pleasure to work with and we enjoyed being a part of that fan base and community. The organization took care of our players, coaches and staff that called Fresno home and we could not be more grateful. We wish the organization and the community the best of luck going forward.”
“The Washington Nationals would like to thank the Hagerstown Suns and their fans for 14 years of incredible support. Since 2007, Hagerstown has been a stop in the journey of countless big leaguers. The endless support of host families, front office and stadium staff through the years allowed our players and coaches to concentrate on becoming the best they could be. We wish the organization and the community the best of luck going forward.”