New Haven Ravens, Toronto Blue Jays Sign Affiliation Agreement

September 19, 2002 - Eastern League (EL1)
New Haven Ravens News Release

The New Haven Ravens announced today that the team has signed a two-year Player Development Contract (PDC) with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays will now be responsible for providing the Ravens with players, coaches and a trainer. The agreement will run through the 2004 season.

The pairing brings together two franchises very active in their communities and devoted to public service. The Blue Jays have had a program in place for over a decade that requires community service from each player in their Minor League system – including any Major League players who are sent down for a rehabilitation assignment. At the end of the season, the player with the most community service receives an award in Toronto.

The Blue Jays will be relocating their Double-A affiliate from Knoxville, Tennessee, where they have been for the last 23 seasons. In 2001 the team finished 20 games over .500; the team qualified for the Southern League playoffs for three straight seasons from 1997 through 1999. This past season the club was 69-71 and many of the current Double-A players are expected to return to that level, in New Haven next year. Among the possibilities to start the season in the Elm City are outfielder Gabe Gross, the Jay’s first-round draft pick in 2001 out of Auburn, and second baseman Dominic Rich, a midseason promotion from Single-A Dunedin who was a Florida State League All-Star. The Jays’ first-round pick from 1999, outfielder Alexis Rios, may move up to New Haven after spending last season with Dunedin.

“We are extremely excited to be starting this new relationship with an organization and with people who really want to come to New Haven and be here to partner with us,” said New Haven Ravens General Manager Adam Schierholz. “Our proximity to both their Triple-A franchise in Syracuse and to the parent club itself in Toronto brings us, for the first time, a closer feel with our affiliate. It was an immediate attraction for the Blue Jays. Toronto has traditionally had one of the strongest farm systems in the game and the Ravens look forward to aiding the continuation of that tradition.”

Blue Jays Director of Minor League Operations Bob Nelson was on hand for the announcement.

“The Toronto Blue Jays couldn’t be happier with moving our Double-A affiliate to New Haven,” Nelson said. “We are glad to be closer to home, and look forward to many years of exciting player development with the Ravens at a facility so rich in baseball history. Not many Double-A players are afforded the opportunity to play in a facility where Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and President Bush played. The field looks great and I am sure it will look even better come April. We have a history of long-term relationships with our affiliates and look forward to starting one here.”

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