CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston RiverDogs are renewing their affiliation with the Tampa Bay Rays.
“The RiverDogs are thrilled to welcome home the defending American League Champion Rays,” Jeff Goldklang, president of the RiverDogs’ ownership group said in a statement. “Our Group has had an uninterrupted relationship with Tampa Bay for over 25 years, and simply put, they’re consistently one of the best-run teams in all of Major League Baseball. The quality of prospects and on-field success of their farm teams is unmatched, and we can’t wait for our fans and partners to enjoy the Rays experience.”
The franchise has been waiting to see which major league team they would be affiliated with since the New York Yankees ended their 16-year relationship with the RiverDogs last month.
“Since 1994 we have centered our primary focus around providing affordable family fun for people of all ages and backgrounds in the Charleston area,” RiverDogs president and general manager Dave Echols said. “MLB affiliations change, and we’re blessed to partner with one of the best. Rest assured, our mission will not.”
Tampa Bay and the RiverDogs had been affiliated with each other from 1997 through 2004.
During that period top talent such as future American League MVP Josh Hamilton, Carl Crawford and BJ Upton all played for the RiverDogs.
“The Rays have great memories from our previous tenure in Charleston and are excited about the opportunity to renew that relationship,” Rays director of minor league operations Jeff McLerran said. “Player Development is central to our goal of remaining atop the American League, and good development starts with good affiliate partners. The RiverDogs management team provides a great environment for our players to learn, train, and compete. Additionally, the city of Charleston is second to none, and the RiverDogs’ fans create an atmosphere where our players and staff will want to push themselves as far as they can for years to come. We can’t wait for Opening Day.”
The move is part of sweeping changes throughout minor league baseball brought on by the MLB clubs. The league is expected to announce affiliations for 120 minor league teams on Wednesday that will leave some clubs without a major league team to work with.