Minnesota Twins Podcast – Talk to Contact – Episode 36

Episode 36 of the Twins baseball podcast,  Talk To Contact (@TalkToContact), is now available for download via iTunes or by clicking here.

Cody Christie (2nd from left) enjoys a recent tour of the Talk to Contact office space with a few of his close, personal friends.
Cody Christie (2nd from left) enjoys a recent tour of the Talk to Contact office space with a few of his close, personal friends.

Talk to Contact is proud to bring you another episode packed full of Twins talk.  This week Cody and Eric discuss the magic of Kevin Correia, Ron Gardenhire‘s mismanagement of the pitching staff, Gardy’s tenure with the Twins, when and why it might be time to cut ties with Mike Pelfrey, and generally blather on about all things Minnesota.

We’re joined this week by the Rochester Red Wings play-by-play man, Josh Whetzel, whose broadcasts are streamed online at Sports 1280 WHTK, www.whtk.com.  He gives us a quick run down of who’s hot and who’s not in Triple-A, and identifies some names to watch for in the not-to-distant future.

More or less shennegians this week when we go Down on the Pond, take some questions from the internet, and name Brad Swanson (@bridman77) the Listener of the Week.

Tune in for almost 100 minutes of Twins radio gold.



You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan.  You can follow Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) or read his writing at  Puckett’s Pond.  And of course, you can find me on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read my writing here at Knuckleballs!

– ERolfPleiss

Minor Leagues: Affiliation Questions and Answers

Over the past month or more, I’ve alluded a few times to the fact that the Twins’ Player Development Contracts (PDC) with a number of their minor league affiliates were set to expire after the current season. In fact, all four of their PDCs with their “full-season” affiliates (A, Advanced A, AA and AAA) were expiring.

Nobody really expects their Advanced A team, the Ft. Myers Miracle, to shop around for a new affiliation, given that the team calls the Twins’ Spring Training facility its home. While there was plenty of doubt in the air about the Twins’ relationship with their AA affiliate in New Britain CT, the two parties announced a two-year extension to their working agreement recently. That leaves their AAA team in Rochester NY and their Class A team in Beloit WI still up in the air.

I’ve wondered enough about this issue that it caused me to ask a few questions of people who are more familiar than I was with how the affiliation process works. (It didn’t take much searching to find people who knew more than I did.) Between asking some questions and a little bit of online investigation, I found a few answers that I thought I would share here.

Q:           Why don’t the Twins have a AAA affiliate closer to Minnesota?

A:            The two AAA leagues are primarily eastern (International League) and western (Pacific Coast League) groupings with relatively few locations in the Midwest. Those that are nearby either already have strong, long time relationships with other Midwest MLB teams (Des Moines with the Cubs and Omaha with the Royals) or their PDC is not expiring (Indianapolis with the Pirates) until 2014.

Q:           So why would the Twins want out of Rochester?

A:            They probably don’t. Most of what’s being written about this relationship indicates that it’s Rochester that may want to explore other options. The Twins have fielded pretty bad teams there the past couple of years and attendance has dropped off significantly. However, the Red Wings are on a roll at the moment and are on the fringes of a Wild Card spot, so the question is whether it’s too little, too late, to salvage the relationship.

Q:           Beloit is pretty close to the Twin Cities and they’ve had some decent teams there, so why change that affiliation?

A:            The primary reasons for even considering a switch involve the facilities in Beloit. Pohlman Field may be considered quaint or even a nostalgic throwback to the days of town team or low minor league baseball by some. But to those who deal with the business side of baseball, the facilities in Beloit, from the clubhouses to the training facilities to the seating areas to the field itself, are simply not up to modern standards for full-season minor league baseball. Ten other MWL communities still have not come to extension agreements with their existing MLB partners, so it should come as no surprise that the Twins are in no hurry to ink an extension with Beloit.

Q:           Why won’t teams like the Twins or their current affiliates just come out and say, “we’re interested in looking in to another affiliation”?

A:            Existing PDCs do not expire until September 30 and any public comments before then could be (and most likely would be) considered “tampering” with existing contractual relationships, subjecting teams to six figure fines. Teams in existing relationships can renew those deals for an additional two or four year period at any time, but no discussions with or about potential new partners can take place before certain dates specified in MLB Rule 56.

Q:           When will the Twins decide who their affiliates will be next season?

A:            Any time between the end of the season (both Rochester and Beloit regular seasons end September 3) and September 11, teams can notify either the MLB Commissioner or the MiLB President (and ONLY those people… they can’t publicly state that they’ve provided such notice) that they do not wish to renew their existing agreement. If the Commissioner approves the termination notices*, he notifies the parties involved by September 15. Only once a team gets a termination approval notice from the Commissioner can it begin negotiations with other potential affiliation partners. That means everyone needs to find a new partner between September 16th and the 30th. Those teams who don’t come to an agreement on their own in that period of time will have their affiliations assigned by the Commissioner by October 7.

*Yes, Bud Selig can employ his “best interests of baseball” powers to disallow termination requests. If Bud decides, for example, that the Twins remaining affiliated with Beloit is what is in the best interests of baseball, he can turn down the Twins’ request to terminate that PDC and require that it be extended two more years. Would he do so? It would be wrong, but he’s from Wisconsin, after all, and it certainly wouldn’t be the first thing he’s done wrong as Commissioner.

Q:           Why don’t the Twins just offer to help Beloit remodel their stadium or even help with the costs of building a new one?

A:            I think the only way the Twins could do that would be to actually purchase the Beloit Baseball Club from the current owner (which, I believe, is the community itself). A few MLB teams do own minor league affiliates (in fact, I think the Twins own their Elizabethton rookie league team), but this is still relatively rare.

In this situation, the MLB Rule applicable to PDCs prohibits MLB teams from promising benefits beyond that of a standard PDC contract. That being the case, it would seem that MLB teams would not be permitted to offer inducements, nor could MiLB clubs ask MLB teams to contribute funding beyond what’s allowed in a standard PDC (travel costs, salaries and benefits for players, coaches, instructional staff and trainers, for example).

Q:           Why don’t the Twins affiliate with the St. Paul Saints for their Class A team?

A:            During the off-season, I heard some chatter suggesting the Twins should partner with the St. Paul Saints in their effort to get a new stadium built in St. Paul and then make the Saints their Class A affiliate. Not that the Twins ever expressed interest in such an arrangement publicly, but the same rule mentioned above would apparently preclude the Twins from funding the Saints’ new stadium and making St. Paul an affiliate unless the Twins actually purchased ownership of the team.

There are also minimum boundary requirements in the rules that preclude a MiLB team from playing too close to a MLB team’s home territory (which would certainly apply to St. Paul). There appears to be some wiggle room there if the MLB team agrees, which they certainly could do if they’re the affiliate of that team. But there are other obstacles. For example, MiLB teams must provide an off day for players any time they travel more than 500 miles for a road series, unless they fly the team to that location (which you just don’t do at Class A). St. Paul is so far outside the current MWL footprint that this would make scheduling extremely difficult. MLB teams get off days regularly… MiLB players get very, very few.

Finally, even if those issues could be addressed, the Twins don’t get to decide which communities get affiliated MiLB teams (the Saints are currently an Independent team, meaning they are not part of the “affiliated” MiLB system). Unless a current MiLB franchise can no longer operate financially in a manner that it can meet the terms of their PDC and other rules, existing teams appear to be guaranteed a PDC. So, for example, unless Beloit can’t meet its obligations, in terms of providing the minimum facilities required, pay for travel or other expenses that they’re responsible for, or they decide to sell their franchise, they will likely have a PDC with someone next season. Even if they’re sold, it appears the new owners would have to give 18 months notice prior to relocating.

In other words, the Saints will probably be remaining independent for the foreseeable future and Beloit will continue to have a MWL team for at least one more season and likely longer.

Q:           When will we know who the Twins’ affiliates will be in 2013?

A:            If the Twins are going to switch affiliations, we may not hear anything official until October. However, if we haven’t heard about a renewal of an existing PDC by September 1, it’s probably safe to assume there’s going to be a change in affiliations at that Class. If either the Twins or their existing affiliates elect to “go in to the pool” and explore new options, they will get a list of potential locations available for new affiliations on September 15. That would not preclude teams from also negotiating with their existing affiliates during the late September negotiating period, but renewals at that point are rather rare.

Q:           If the Twins don’t renew their PDCs with Rochester and/or Beloit, who are they likely to affiliate with?

A:            I’m admittedly biased, but the truth is Cedar Rapids would be a very good fit as the Twins’ Class A affiliate and, trust me, I’m not the only person who feels that way. CR is the closest MWL city to the Twin Cities geographically and an affiliation would benefit both organizations. CR would get an affiliation with a nearby MLB team that has a significant existing local fan base and the Twins would get an opportunity to get a stronger foothold in Eastern Iowa, where neither their TV nor radio rights holders are currently carried. If that dynamic can be changed, it could have a positive effect on future Twins media rights fees.

Cedar Rapids’ stadium is 11 years old and provides relatively modern facilities for players and field management. In addition, I was told once that Kernels players may also have access to the Perfect Game facilities across the street from the ballpark. However, CR has been affiliated with the Angels for 20 years and the Angels would like to renew, so there’s still a chance they announce a renewal before September 1. If that happens, Clinton IA (currently a Mariners affiliate) might be another option for the Twins.

AAA is a cloudier situation. Earlier in the year, the prevailing theory seemed to be that the Blue Jays (who desperately want out of Las Vegas) would affiliate with Buffalo. The Mets, who currently are in Buffalo, would partner up with Rochester and leave the Twins to find a new AAA home. That still could happen or, if Buffalo and the Mets renew, the Jays could simply move to Rochester.

Because so few International League PDCs are up for renewal (none of the IL South or West division teams’ PDCs are expiring), a renewal with Rochester is likely the only chance the Twins have of staying in that league.

The three locations I hear most often discussed for a possible Twins move are Oklahoma City, Nashville and Las Vegas. OKC is currently an Astros affiliate and Nashville is tied to the Brewers. If those teams don’t announce a renewal before September, they might be landing spots for the Twins. Otherwise, the Twins could be “assigned” to Las Vegas.

The sad fact is, with the poor AAA teams the Twins have fielded lately, they won’t have affiliates in line begging to partner up.

I think I’ve finally run out of things to say on this subject, at least until there’s something more “official” coming out of one of the affected communities. If you have any related questions, just leave them in the comment section and I’ll try to find answers.

– JC

Minor Leagues: Let the Affiliation Dance Begin

I’ve been much better this season about limiting my posts to 1200-1300 words. This one, however, is a return to the days of much longer tomes. I apologize in advance to those of you with shorter attention spans. – JC

Some who follow the Twins minor league affiliates were at least somewhat surprised this past week when the Twins announced they had renewed their Player Development Contract (PDC) with AA affiliate New Britain CT. The Rock Cats will remain the home of the Twins’ AA players for at least the next two years. PDCs are entered in to for an even number of years, so two years is the shortest contract the two organizations could have agreed upon. I guess you could say the extension isn’t exactly indicative of the two sides making a mutual long term commitment.

The Rock Cats have had a pretty good year, at least compared to their parent organization. Through Saturday, they had a 56-44 record that the Twins themselves should be jealous of and were just 2.5 games behind the Eastern Division leading Trenton Thunder. They also had a 4.5 game lead over the third place Reading Phillies. That’s important to the Rock Cats because the top two teams in each division qualify for the Eastern League playoffs.

Of course, from the perspective of the parent organization (and most of their fans), winning games and making minor league playoffs is of secondary concern. The primary purpose of the minor leagues is to develop talent that can eventually be of use at the Major League level. But if you don’t think winning games plays a role when it comes to renewing PDCs, you clearly do not live in a community with a minor league ballclub. To the owners and management of those minor league teams, who rely almost exclusively on putting butts in the seats in order to make financial ends meet, winning does matter.

To that end, fielding a competitive team in a PDC renewal year is certainly not a bad idea if you want to maintain your relationship with a community. I don’t think it’s at all a coincidence that New Britain has gone from perhaps the most likely Twins affiliate to explore other options to being the first affiliate to sign on for another two-year term within the time it took to put a team on the field capable of being 12 games over .500 as they near the final month of their season.

But the Cats are not the only Twins affiliate with an expiring PDC after this season. The Twins’ agreements are also up with their AAA affiliate in Rochester NY, their Class A-Advanced affiliate in Ft. Myers FL and their Class A affiliate in Beloit WI. It’s pretty safe to say that the Ft. Myers Miracle will be remaining affiliated with the Twins, since they’re a “complex affiliate” that calls the Twins’ Spring Training complex their home, but the other two situations are not nearly as locked down.

The Rochester situation is interesting. The Red Wings and their fans take a lot of pride in their team and they don’t suffer poor results well. And suffer they have, lately. Both in 2010 and 2011, the Wings were downright awful. They were so bad in 2010 that a vocal part of their fan base were upset that the decision makers signed on for another two years with the Twins. Red Wings management were rewarded for their loyalty with a second consecutive 90+ loss season in 2011. Given the lower number of games played in the minor leagues, that’s pretty comparable to two consecutive 99+ loss seasons at the Big League level. (Sound familiar to anyone?)

The Red Wings got off to another poor start in 2012, so you can imagine how local sentiment for dumping the Twins has grown. A recent hot streak had the Red Wings up to a .500 record at 50-50 through Saturday, but they were still in fifth place, 5.5 games behind the North Division leading Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (who, coincidentally, have been playing many of their “home” games at Rochester’s Frontier Field while their own home stadium undergoes major renovations this summer). They were also five games out of the International League’s Wild Card spot. That may not seem like a lot, but that still left five teams they would have to pass to make the IL playoffs as the Wild Card.

Nonetheless, the Twins have made an effort to field a more competitive team in Rochester this year and they brought in a new manager, Gene Glynn, who’s more popular with the locals. Is it enough to keep the Twins and Red Wings tied together for at least two more years? Maybe. There simply is not usually a lot of movement of affiliations at the AAA level and both parties have to be a little careful about rushing to end the arrangement. Either (or both) could end up finding themselves in even worse situations.

Beloit is a bit of a different situation. Beloit would do cartwheels to retain their PDC affiliation with the Twins. The Snappers are not off to a very good start in the second half of their Midwest League season, but they finished second in the Western Division in the first half, which assures them a spot in the MWL playoffs. (MWL seasons are divided in to two halves, with the division winners and runners-up in each half qualifying for the playoffs.) But on-field success isn’t the main reason Beloit’s anxious to re-up with the Twins.

Beloit, while being the home of MWL executive offices, has what are widely considered the worst facilities in the league. Their stadium has been in need of replacement for years and the organization has simply not been able to get public support to do what’s necessary. Two years ago, plans were pitched for a new facility but, like prior attempts, they were never approved. Some reports now indicate the club may have better luck with a proposal to renovate. Their stadium issues would likely make attracting a new MLB affiliate challenging, so say the least.

But would poor facilities be enough motivation for the Twins to walk away from their eight-year relationship with Beloit? In a word, yes. In fact, the lack of progress on an appropriate stadium were reported to be the reason the Milwaukee Brewers opted to move their MWL affiliation out of Beloit after the 2004 season. Major League teams do, in fact, care about the facilities that their young prospects call home. They want to make sure the fields are maintained in a first rate manner and that clubhouses and training facilities are at least adequate, if not well above that standard.

Unlike the situation with AAA organizations, it’s far more common for Class A organizations to switch affiliations. In fact, reports I’ve seen indicate 12 of the 16 Midwest League teams have expiring PDCs after the 2012 season and Twins senior director of minor league operations Jim Rantz told the Pioneer Press that he expects 8-9 of those teams to actually make changes. I’ll be surprised if the Twins aren’t one of those teams looking for another MWL home.

I’ve made no secret of my wish that the Twins hook up with my local team, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, but there’s no assurance the Kernels will enter the pool of teams open to exploring a new PDC parner. The Kernels have been an Angels affiliate for 20 years and although it’s not unusual for AA and AAA relationships to run that long and even much longer, the Kernels and Angels have the longest running relationship in the Midwest League. While the Kernels haven’t had a bunch of Championship titles to show for the relationship, the Angels have been pretty good about sending most of their top prospects through Cedar Rapids for at least half a season.

Kernels GM Doug Nelson (right) chats with Angels GM Jerry Dipoto at a recent Kernels game

Still, according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, there’s a growing sentiment among the fan base in Cedar Rapids (and, rumor has it, among some of the club’s governing Board of Directors, which serves as essentially the “owners” of the Kernels) that it’s time for a change. There’s a sense that it would be nice to have an affiliation with one of the midwestern MLB ballclubs, so local fans could better follow the prospects that come through town all the way to the Big Club. Of course, the fact that the Kernels finished 7th out of the eight-team Western Division of the MWL in the first half of the season and have dropped in to the cellar in the second half might have something to do with the fan sentiment, too.

It would make sense from the Twins’ perspective, as well, in the following ways:

  • Cedar Rapids is the closest MWL community to the Twins Cities. No, players do not routinely get called up from Class A to the Twins, so that’s not an issue. But it’s not at all unusual for MWL teams to be used for rehab assignments by their nearby Big League affiliates and front office types do routinely make trips. (In fact, there have been almost annual Terry Ryan sightings in Cedar Rapids, both during his time as a “senior adviser” and as Twins GM.) Though CR isn’t THAT much closer to Target Field than Beloit, if you’ve ever had cause to try to fly between those locations, there’s a significant difference.
  • Veterans Memorial Stadium is just over a decade old. It could no doubt use some remodeling, but it’s a far cry better than what Twins prospects currently call home in Beloit. Not only that, but Perfect Game (the national amateur scouting service) training facilities are about a block away from the stadium and my understanding is that Kernels players have access to PG’s facilities, perhaps as part of the naming rights deal the organizations have (the formal name of the ballpark is “Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium”).
  • All of Iowa is considered part of the Twins home market, yet FSN isn’t carried by the primary cable providers in Eastern Iowa. Nor is there even a radio station in the area that carries Twins broadcasts. The reason is that, while there’s a solid, loyal base of Twins fans in the area, that base is not as large as it could be… or as it should be. A Twins affiliation with the Kernels would almost certainly change this situation as Kernels fans become Twins fans. The Twins would, over time, see far more group sales from this area as fans travel up to see former Kernels at Target Field.

It makes sense for both organizations. So why don’t the Twins and Kernels just sit down and come to an agreement? Well, as is often the case when you’re talking about professional baseball rules, it’s really just not quite that easy.

Under the rules of MLB and Minor League Baseball (MiLB), existing affiliated teams can negotiate extensions any time they’re mutually inclined to do so, just as the Twins and Rock Cats did recently. But if either party to an existing PDC wants to explore other options, they must wait until a specified window of time to declare their desire to explore other options. New PDC agreements can then be negotiated and entered in to beginning September 16 (any private or public statements about possible interest in another affiliate prior to that date earns hefty fines for the clubs deemed guilty of such “tampering”). Clubs have just two weeks to find a new dance partner, however, because agreements need to be executed by September 30. After that date, any MLB or MiLB clubs without an agreement will be matched up and assigned an affiliation by agreement between the MLB Commisioner and the MiLB President. (Honestly, how many of you would want Bud Selig to be deciding who your affiliate would be?)

Nobody wants that to happen, but it’s not all that rare, either. While the Twins would likely have no problem finding a soft landing spot for their Class A affiliation, the AAA situation could be more dicey. Then again, the relatively small number of MLB teams likely to look for a new AAA partner could make the Red Wings’ management group think twice about whether they can really improve their situation or whether they might end up with an even worse result than sticking with the Twins for another couple of years. After all, in theory, some of those Rock Cats that are having a successful season in New Britain this year should find their way to Rochester next season, right?

So the question is whether the good folks who run the Red Wings are willing to take that chance.

Twins GM Terry Ryan during a recent visit to Cedar Rapids

In the end, I’ll guess that Rochester and the Twins extend their agreement for another two years. I’ll also go with my heart, rather than my head, and predict a Twins move to Cedar Rapids for their Class A affiliation. I readily admit that there’s at best a 50-50 chance that the Kernels will end their relationship with the Angles (Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was in CR last week to make a pitch to continue their affiliation) and it’s no sure-thing that the Twins would step in even if the Kernels and Angels divorce. That makes it far less than 50-50 that my wishes come true, but right now I’ll take those odds.

– JC

Is Winning No Longer the “Twins Way”?

I thought initially that it had to be a misquote… or at least a quote taken out of context. But Jim Mandelaro of the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle has not, in my experience, been prone to playing fast and loose with that kind of thing.

I WAS VERY DISAPPOINTED to read former Red Wings shortstop Trevor Plouffe’s comment about playing in the minors: “There’s a bit of wanting to win, but it’s kind of a game where you want to perform so you can get to the big leagues.”

Trevor Plouffe

I almost feel bad even attributing the quote, because Trevor Plouffe has perhaps been the subject of more criticism than any one member of the sorry excuse for a baseball team the Twins trotted out on to Target Field should get. Plouffe made his share of rookie mistakes (and, arguably, the share of two or three other guys), but he was far from the only player prone to screwing up this summer.

Mandelaro didn’t mention in his blog post where he had picked up on Plouffe’s quote, so I decided to Google it… just to see if there was some context I was missing out on. It turns out, the quote came from a September 23 column by the Star-Tribune’s LaVelle E. Neal III and there actually was an additional sentence added by Plouffe, but I’m not sure it makes his comment any easier to swallow. “Once you are here, it is all about winning. I could care less if I go 0-for-3 or 0-for-4 if we are winning. That’s my honest answer.”

It’s nice that, once Plouffe got to Minnesota, he discovered that winning is more important than his individual stats, but am I the only person who thinks maybe that kind of approach should be ingrained in to the minds and habits of players BEFORE they put on their first Big League uniform?

Then again, I suspect that it comes as no surprise to Red Wings fans to find out the players there have barely cared about winning the past few years. The Red Wings have lost more than 90 games in each of the past two seasons. Is it any wonder that many Rochester baseball fans are clamoring for their organization to dump their affiliation with the Twins? Next summer, the Yankees’ AAA team will be playing a lot of their “home” games at Rochester’s Frontier Field while their own stadium gets a face-lift. It’s going to be pretty embarrassing for the Twins when Rochester fans turn out in greater numbers to cheer on the future Yankees than they do the Red Wings.

Look, we all understand that the primary function of the minor league system is to develop talent to feed the parent ballclub. But isn’t part of developing players supposed to be instilling something deeper than just a “bit of wanting to win”?

I really am not intending to come down hard on Plouffe. When has he ever played for a winning team on his way up in the Twins organization? He’s been part of both of those 90+ loss Red Wings teams the past two years, as well as the 70-74 version in 2009. He did get some time with the Wings in 2008, as well, when they went 74-70, but he spent half of that season at AA New Britain where the Rock Cats went 64-77. He also spent all of 2007 with the Cats when they went 69-72.

That makes this the fifth straight season Plouffe has played for losing teams. The 80-60 season he spent with the Ft. Myers Miracle in 2006 must seem like a lifetime ago. By the way, if you go back and look at the rosters of the futile teams Plouffe played on coming up through the organization, I think you’re going to see guys like Luke Hughes, Danny Valencia, Drew Butera, Rene Tosoni and Brian Dinkelman on a lot of those teams, as well.

Talk about playing the “Twins Way” has become almost a joke. I’m not sure what it even is supposed to mean any more. It used to mean playing the game the right way. It used to mean players that knew how to move runners, run the bases with a bit of intelligence and avoid making mental and physical errors in the field. In other words, it used to mean recognizing that the purpose behind playing the game was to win, through whatever means necessary.

So have the players changed? Have Twins affiliates stopped winning because the players only care about their stats? Or do the players only care about their stats because that’s all the organization looks at when they pass out promotions to their minor leaguers?

I’m not smart enough to know the answer to that. But I’ve been around enough sports teams in my life to know that both winning and losing become habits and after spending years only wanting to win “a bit”, it’s got to be pretty damn tough to flip a switch and suddenly know what it takes to win at the highest level of competition.

From here, it looks to me like the Twins have been all about teaching “pitch to contact” and hitting to all fields… but virtually nothing about teaching how to win.

It also feels to me like there’s a sense of entitlement among this crop of young Twins. They’ve put up stat lines in the minor leagues to earn promotions, so now they just assume it’s their turn to be handed a roster spot with the Twins.

I’d like to say it doesn’t work that way, but maybe with the people running the Twins front office these days, that’s exactly how it does work. If that’s the case, Twins fans better get used to last place finishes and celebrating .500 seasons as a major accomplishment, because that’s pretty much what the Twins have given their minor league affiliates lately.

– JC