Cubs head to Myrtle Beach, Carolina League

The Chicago Cubs are leaving Daytona after 22 years and moving their High-A affiliate to Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League. The Cubs also announced a two-year extension with the Iowa Cubs.

The Daytona Cubs and the Florida State League are out. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans and the Carolina League are in.

The Chicago Cubs agreed with Myrtle Beach on a new Player Development Contract to move the club's Single-A affiliate. The contract runs through the 2016 season.

Cubs President Theo Epstein told reporters prior to the Cubs game that weather issues at Daytona were the crux of the problem and they started looking around. He added that Myrtle was “looking for a national band” and they “jumped” at the chance to get in there.

He said the Carolina League was the best league in terms of development purposes. Epstein said these are tough decisions but in the end they did what’s best for the players and said Myrtle Beach and the Carolina League is what’s best for the Cubs players.

So why did the Cubs “jump” at a chance to make the move to Myrtle Beach—Chuck Greenburg, one of the most successful and progressive owners in minor league baseball. He owned the Texas Rangers for a short time and help put together the deal that kept the Pittsburgh Penguins in his hometown. He also owns the State College Spikes, the Class A-Short season affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. His son, Jeff, is the Cubs coordinator of baseball operations.

Pelican games were on MiLB-TV in 2014 and home games are played at Field, a 5,200 seat, single deck park with nine luxury suites. Its only 308 down the left-field line over a six-foot wall, 400 to CF, and 328 to right-field, where the wall is 8-feet. If you attend a game, you are sitting in the former seats of Fulton County Stadium, former home of the Atlanta Braves.

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans have made eight post-season appearances in their 16-season history, including each of the last four seasons as an affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Myrtle Beach joined the Carolina League in 1999 as an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, a partnership that would continue through the 2010 season, prior to joining the Rangers in 2011.

"We are excited to reach an agreement with Myrtle Beach and begin working with Chairman Chuck Greenberg and General Manager and Vice President Andy Milovich," said Jason McLeod, the Cubs Senior Vice President, Scouting and Player Development. "Myrtle Beach is a well-respected franchise that will serve as a beneficial destination for our young players. We look forward to developing a successful relationship with the franchise and community."

"We would also like to thank Daytona for the organization's dedication and professionalism in the past 22 seasons," McLeod said. "We appreciate all their efforts and have the utmost respect for Andy Rayburn, Josh Lawther and the entire Daytona front office."

"The Cubs are an iconic national brand," said Pelicans General Manager and Vice President Andy Milovich. "The success of our business is determined by fan interest, the quality of baseball and the impact on Myrtle Beach from a tourism perspective. In each of these instances, the Chicago Cubs clearly offered the most upside. The Cubs strengthen the Pelicans brand in a way that few, if any, other major league franchises could. Cubs fans can now visit their future stars in one of the iconic vacation destination spots in the U.S."

Other teams and their affiliations in the Carolina League include Carolina Mudcats (Indians), Frederick Keys (Orioles), Lynchburg Hillcats (Braves). Salem Red Sox, Potomac Nationals, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals) and Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox).

While everyone was waiting word about the future of Boise, Kane County and Daytona, the Cubs and Iowa announced a two-year extension that keeps the I-Cubs in Des Moines through the 2018 season. There was an agreement in place through 2016 but the Cubs announced two additional years on Tuesday. Its the 8th longest affiliation in MLB and the Cubs have been at Principal Park with their AAA squad since 1981.

"Our long-standing relationship with the Chicago Cubs is a source of pride for our organization and our community," Iowa Cubs President/General Manager Sam Bernabe said. "We are very pleased with Chicago's commitment to their minor league system and our fans enjoy seeing the exciting young players on the field at Principal Park. This extension shows that the Cubs appreciate the work our staff does to provide a top notch facility and operation to support their players and staff members throughout the year."

"We are pleased to reach a PDC extension with Iowa," said Jason McLeod, the Cubs Senior Vice President, Scouting and Player Development. "We thank Michael Gartner, Sam Bernabe and the entire Iowa Cubs family for their commitment to providing a great experience for our Triple-A players. The players who have come through Iowa speak of their positive experiences in Des Moines and appreciate their great fans, and we are thrilled to continue this long-standing partnership." 

Back in June, the Cubs extended their agreement with Tennessee through the 2018 season, ensuring the Cubs remain at Smokies Park, their AA home since 2007.

The Cubs are still looking at options to replace Boise in the Northwest League and Kane County in the Midwest League. Epstein said they are keeping their options open and doing their due diligence to provide the best for their minor league players and their development.

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