SF Giants: One Minor League Affiliate Lost, Another on the Bubble
By Jeff Young
According to a report by Henry Schulman, the SF Giants are on the cusp of losing one of their long-time minor league affiliates and could be in line to lose another.
According to a report by Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, as part of a major realignment of the minor league system, the SF Giants will likely lose their lowest full-season affiliate, the Augusta Greenjackets next season.
The Greenjackets have been the Giants Class-A affiliate since 2005. Before that, the Hagerstown Suns, now with the Washington Nationals, were the Giants affiliate in the South Atlantic League.
Teams often change minor league affiliates once the terms of the agreement expire, but the changes that will likely take place are a direct result of the reduction in minor league teams that has been discussed for some time.
If the Giants lose Augusta, it will be sad for the organization. After all, Augusta is often the first full-season professional stop for top draft prospects, especially ones who are drafted out of high school.
Great players such as Madison Bumgarner and key prospects like Heliot Ramos and Seth Corry once called Augusta their home. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 minor league season was canceled, which seemed like a missed opportunity for the Giants organization as Augusta would have featured some of their top prospects.
Furthermore, Augusta opened up its new ballpark, SRP Park, in 2018, and the Giants were hoping this would be home for prospects for a long time to come. It still will be, but it will be under the control of another organization or potentially under an independent league.
Similar to the Class-A affiliate, the SF Giants Double-A affiliate in Richmond could be on the chopping block as well. The Richmond Flying Squirrels, which is a fantastic name, by the way, has been the Giants Double-A affiliate since 2010.
Its ten-year run with the Giants is the second-longest run the Giants have had with a Double-A affiliate. The longest run was a relationship that spanned 24 seasons with Shreveport that ended in 2002.
A move away from the Eastern League might be a welcomed change for the Giants. The Eastern League is known as a brutal offensive environment with expansive ballparks and climates that depress the flight of the ball. Player evaluation, especially for position players, has been difficult over the years due to these factors.
At times, pitchers have overperformed in Double-A, whereas position players have struggled to get it going. Either way, the Giants will be losing one, and probably a second, affiliate that they have had longstanding ties with. Minor league affiliates often get overlooked as part of the development process, but they give players unique experiences and bonds that are difficult to replace. This is a loss for baseball.
The Giants will likely receive their other minor-league affiliates soon, but this would be especially difficult news for the Greenjackets and their employees. While the league has said all teams will host some baseball going forward, losing an MLB affiliation could cause the team to layoff and downsize many team employees. Hopefully, things don’t go in that direction.