Royals and Storm Chasers players and coaches line up on the foul lines prior to the 2019 Royals Exhibition Game presented by Cobalt Credit Union. (Brad J. Williams)
By Martie Cordaro
Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) form the most unique of partnerships in the professional sports world. The relationships that are shared between the two organizations are called Player Development Contracts. PDCs are referred to as affiliation agreements, either two years or four years in length, and spell out what each particular organization does for the other. Most other minor league sports are not affiliated with a Major League partner, but are merely independent. Our affiliations guarantee, at any MiLB level, you will see the next MLB stars on their way to the show.
2019 Exhibition Game Recap. Video provided by The Omaha Storm Chasers
Many do not know this, but MLB teams and MiLB squads operate differently. The MiLB clubs provide the business that works to sell the sport and other various assets such as tickets, advertising, concessions and merchandise by creating an entertainment experience for local communities to enjoy. In MiLB we work hard to provide environments in which MLB teams can develop their players and ready them for big-league action. We also pay for all travel, uniforms, off-the-field-labor, and all other business expenses. Our MLB partners provide players, as well as the scouting, coaching and training, in addition to the salaries associated with the on-field talent. The player decisions are all made by the MLB clubs at any level…Rookie, Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A. The focus is, first and foremost, on developing talent and then on winning games.
In Omaha, we have been affiliated with the Kansas City Royals since each of our inceptions in 1969. From the Royals, to the Spikes, back to the Royals, and now the Storm Chasers, our relationship has been the longest running affiliation in all of Triple-A Baseball, and the third-longest out of all 160 MiLB clubs. The consistency of our partnership is something we are certainly most proud of. We have been fortunate to have won seven league titles in our existence, showing that Kansas City focuses on developing players AND winning at the various MiLB levels. For 51 seasons, I-29 has been burned up by more than 900 players that have made the trek to play Major League Baseball.
Our players are employed by the Kansas City Royals, but until they are added to the 40-man roster then they are fighting for their professional baseball lives in an effort to continue to develop. Once added to the 40-man roster they can be added to the active 25-man MLB roster of the respective team at any time. Once they reach the big leagues, they can be optioned back to MiLB at any time. Sometimes they can also come back to play MiLB when injured and on the injured list of their MLB club. This is called a Rehabilitation Assignment and can really add excitement to the particular MiLB operation and game should the MLB player be a big name. At Werner Park alone, we have hosted Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon, Danny Duffy, Kris Bryant, Tim Lincecum, Josh Hamilton, Lorenzo Cain, Alfonso Soriano, Manny Ramirez and Roy Oswalt, just to name a few. Whether through natural roster movement and player promotion or through Rehab Assignments, you never know what player you will see on a MiLB field.
With attendance that has topped 41 million fans annually for more than a decade, as well as providing a training ground for future MLB all-stars and Hall of Famers, MiLB is a model for which other sports leagues are envious. Minor League Baseball…it’s fun to be a fan.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.