The Milwaukee Brewers officially extended invitations to minor-league affiliates today, as MLB’s redevelopment of the minor-league system comes to a conclusion. Three of the affiliates are no surprise, as the Brewers will retain their long-standing relationships with the Biloxi Shuckers (Double-A), Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (High-A), and Carolina Mudcats (Low-A). However, the new Triple-A affiliate came as a bit of a surprise, as the Brewers have also extended an invitation to the Nashville Sounds.
The Brewers and Sounds had previously been affiliated for 10 years, working together between 2005 and 2014. The relationship ended on a bit of a rough note as the Sounds and Oakland Athletics chose to affiliate after the 2014 season, when Nashville’s new home stadium was set to open in 2015. The Brewers then affiliated with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox for four years between 2015 and 2018, and followed that up with a two year agreement for 2019 and 2020 with the San Antonio Missions after they moved up to Triple-A. Colorado Springs rebranded as the Rocky Mountain Vibes and moved down to Rookie ball, taking the place of Helena (the Brewers also retained a rookie ball affiliation with the rebranded organization). Meanwhile, the Sounds and Athletics affiliated for four years; after that, the Sounds had a two-yearaffiliation with the Texas Rangers. If the Brewers invitation goes through (Nashville still has to finalize their agreement with MLB), the Brewers will resume their 10-year relationship with the Sounds. Meanwhile, former affiliate San Antonio will drop back down to Double-A, and has received an invitation from the San Diego Padres to become their affiliate.
Meanwhile, the other three teams are no surprise, as the Brewers have been affiliated with them for several years. The longest relationship is with the Biloxi Shuckers, though it began in 1999, when the franchise was known as the Huntsville Stars. They played in Huntsville through 2014, when the franchise could not get a new ballpark, so they relocated to the city of Biloxi and rebranded as the Biloxi Shuckers. The relationship has remained since then, with the Brewers retaining their affiliation for the first six years in Biloxi, and will continue in the new structure.
The local team that the Brewers hold an affiliation with is the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, based out of the city of Appleton. The Brewers were able to get an affiliation with the Timber Rattlers after the 16-year affiliation with the Seattle Mariners ended in 2008, and the Brewers officially affiliated with them the following season. That affiliation has been very strong for the Brewers, and has been going on for 12 years now. While the Timber Rattlers did not officially play in 2020, the Brewers held their alternate site there during the 2020 season, as the close proximity made it an ideal choice for the team. The one change for the Timber Rattlers is that they will be playing in a higher league in 2021, as the franchise moves from Low-A to High-A.
The last affiliation is one of the shorter affiliations, but a strong one with the Carolina Mudcats. The Brewers affiliated with the Mudcats after their affiliation with the Brevard County Manatees ended in 2016. Part of the original affiliation included potential ownership, as the previous owners were looking to see the franchise. The Brewers affiliated with the Mudcats with the understanding that ownership would happen, and the Brewers officially did purchase the franchise shortly after that. They have been affiliated for four years, and that affiliation will continue as well. Similar to the Timber Rattlers, the Mudcats will be playing in a different league in 2021, going from High-A to Low-A.
Here’s the official release from the Brewers:
In a pretty uncertain time across the @MiLB system, very encouraging news for many of the familiar affiliates past/present with the @Brewers . Great to see @TimberRattlers long tenure continue along with @BiloxiShuckers & @CarolinaMudcats Plus welcome back @nashvillesounds ! pic.twitter.com/AbQxZ32Vas— B.J. DeGroot (@BJ_DeGroot) December 9, 2020
Meanwhile, 11 teams had an opportunity to join MLB’s new minor league structure, but did not receive invites from a MLB team. One of those teams is a former Brewers affiliate, the Florida Fire Frogs (who were known as the Brevard County Manatees during their affiliation). They will look to join an independent league now so they can continue operations, as well as the other teams who did not receive invites.
The affiliations are not finalized yet, as the four teams need to finalize their agreements with MLB before the affiliations can become official. However, the Brewers are set to resume their strong history with the Nashville Sounds, and continue their relationships with the Biloxi Shuckers, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, and Carolina Mudcats.