Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pirates Pick Up A New Appalachian League Affiliate -- It's Appy Hour!

This past week, the Pirates announced that they became affiliated with an Appalachian League team in Bristol, Virginia.  Previously, Bristol was affiliated with the Chicago White Sox and were known as the creatively named Bristol White Sox.  So a name change is in order.

The Appalachian League is what's known as an Advanced Rookie league.  It's between the Gulf Coast League and the New York Penn League in terms of short-season pecking order.

It's a great addition to the roster of minor league teams and gives the Pirates 7 affiliates.  The Appalachian League will be good for an advanced high school draftee (like Austin Meadows this year) or an international player that may not be ready for the college-heavy New York Penn League (like Edwin Espinal this year).

Having an extra affiliate will help spread out developmental innings for all the pitchers in the Pirates' system, especially since they can't help themselves and draft tons of pitching each year.  It will also help hedge a bet in case the "Morgantown affiliate that we're building a new stadium for but won't acknowledge it to anyone yet" stadium has a delay in construction somewhere.  The Pirates' Jamestown affiliate has the 2014 season left in the original two-deal affiliation deal.  With the Morgantown stadium expected to be open for the start of the 2015 season in June, it should all fall together nicely.  But just in case, the Pirates can go without a NYPL team for one season and funnel everyone to Bristol or GCL.

It's a good developmental move.  I'm curious how long the Pirates will maintain 7 affiliates, though.  The Appy League is more of a luxury than a necessity.

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