ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday announced an affiliate shakeup as part of Major League Baseball's larger player development -- heading into 2021.
The Rays have inked a player development contract with the Charleston RiverDogs in South Carolina. Tampa Bay previously worked with the RiverDogs from 1997 until 2004 when Charleston became affiliated with the New York Yankees. That relationship ended in November.
The RiverDogs will become the Rays' Low-A affiliate, spelling the end of the team's relationship with the Charlotte Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte, where the Rays will continue to hold spring training.
"Among the many former Rays prospects who played for Charleston are James Shields, B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli," the Rays organization wrote in a news release. "In addition, Rays coaches Matt Quatraro and Paul Hoover both played for Charleston, and Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo managed Charleston in 1999 and 2000."
The RiverDogs play at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods will advance from Low-A to High-A classification.
The updated Rays affiliate structure looks as follows:
- AAA: Durham Bulls
- AA: Montgomery Biscuits
- High-A: Bowling Green Hot Rods
- Low-A: Charleston RiverDogs
“The Rays would like to thank the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Hudson Valley Renegades and Princeton Rays for their many years of affiliation with our organization,” Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Erik Neander wrote in a statement. “The Rays were very fortunate to have close, long-standing relationships at every level, and we appreciate the pivotal role all our affiliates play in helping our players develop on their journeys to the big leagues.”
Major League Baseball is in the process of announcing affiliations for 120 minor league teams as it reduces its number of total affiliates by 40 during a larger system overhaul.
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