The end of one era will begin with a new one. Mobile, Alabama, will be the new location for Angels' minor leaguers at the Double-A level for the next two seasons, following Tuesday's announcement of a two-year player development contract with the Mobile BayBears.
The announcement ended a pair of partnerships that lasted over a decade. With the Angels leaving Little Rock, Arkansas, it will be the first time since 2001 - 15 years - that the Angels' Double-A prospects will not be members of the Arkansas Travelers. Opposite, the BayBears end a 10-year partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
With the move, the Angels will return to the Southern League for the first time since 1963, with their first Double-A affiliate, the Nashville Volunteers. During the Angels' 15-year affiliation in Arkansas, the "Travs" won five division titles as well as the 2001 and 2008 Texas League Championship. The change in affiliations for the Angels will not just be a difference in league, location and uniforms.
According to Baseball America, Dickey-Stephens Park in Little Rock had a park factor of 73, second lowest for parks above Rookie Ball. Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile had a 98 park factor, just slightly below average. The result will be a more accurate statistical reading.
"Change is always a good thing," said BayBears General Manager, Chris Morgan.
Chris Morgan told Scout.com that the Angels were the first to reach out about a developmental agreement, and showed positive genuine interest. He also expressed that fan responses through the team's email chain all came back with positive remarks.
"We are thrilled to be entering into this new partnership with the Los Angeles Angels," Morgan said in the team's press release through MiLB.com. "Billy Eppler and the Angels front office is dedicated to developing quality players at the minor league level and everyone associated with the BayBears organization will work tirelessly to provide a positive environment for this development.
"The Los Angeles Angels are very excited to begin a partnership with the Mobile BayBears," Angels General Manager Billy Eppler said. "This will be a great home for our Double-A players and staff."
Angels prospects will now be in the heartland of SEC football, building relationships with a fan base primary with bias towards the Atlanta Braves. It's a great way to broaden an audience for the future of Angels' baseball and it's future stars.
"The Los Angeles Angels are very excited to begin a partnership with the Mobile BayBears," Angels General Manager Billy Eppler said in Mobile's press release through MiLB.com. "This will be a great home for our Double-A players and staff."