The Cincinnati Reds began Tuesday without having locked up an Advanced-A affiliate for the 2019 season. Before I got a chance to eat that was no longer the case. Just before noon the Reds and Daytona Tortugas announced that they had an agreement for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
This deal makes a lot of sense for the Cincinnati Reds. There were only two other affiliates that seemed to be up for grabs entering the offseason. Lake Elsinore and Inland Empire are both out there. Both of those teams are in the California League. From a purely logistical standpoint, that’s a nightmare for the organization as getting players to and from that level when there’s an injury is less than ideal. When the Reds were in Bakersfield the replacements would often be kids from the Arizona League Reds who were in no way ready to perform at the level. But they were the guys who could get there quick enough to fill out the roster. It did leave the team playing short handed, often.
It’s also a better situation for keeping the Advanced-A team near the Double-A franchise. And while we don’t know exactly where that will be, the options that are available are all closer to Daytona than they are to California. With that said, there are a few things that come along with being in Daytona that aren’t perfect. The ballpark is quite old – it opened in 1914. And while it has been renovated and updated a few times in it’s history, it’s clearly not a new ballpark. The facilities aren’t great. And there was a time earlier in 2018 when an entire series had to be moved to a local college because the field was supposed to be renovated on a road trip and things didn’t go as planned and the field wasn’t ready for play.
With that said, the trade offs for the facilities may more than make up for keeping the team on this side of the country. The travel, the playing environment just makes more sense. The Florida State League can be a bit extreme when it comes to it’s playing environment. It drastically favors pitching because it suppresses power in a big way. But the California League is the exact opposite as it boosts power in a big way. Those are the gives-and-takes with minor league baseball.
On a personal note, I’m thrilled to see the team staying in Daytona. I really didn’t want to have to travel to California to watch baseball. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have done it. So, thanks Reds and Tortugas for making this happen for me.