The San Diego Padres have offered the TinCaps a slot as the Padres' High-A affiliate beginning in the 2021 season, the Padres announced today.
The TinCaps were one of 119 teams across Minor League Baseball that were offered a spot as an affiliate today as the minor leagues contract from the 160 teams that have been the norm in recent years.
No deal has yet been completed, but the TinCaps seem likely to accept San Diego's offer. Other Midwest League teams, including the Dayton Dragons, South Bend Cubs, West Michigan Whitecaps, Lansing Lugnuts and others have been offered spots as High-A affiliates by their parent clubs as well. The Midwest League reportedly could contract from 16 teams to 12, with all 12 clubs playing at the High-A level.
“There has been a lot of anticipation regarding the restructuring of Minor League Baseball,” TinCaps president Mike Nutter said in a statement. “We’re excited that the TinCaps have been invited to join at the High-A level. Fans in Fort Wayne will have the chance to experience a higher level of baseball than before with players closer to becoming Major League stars.
“The quality of Parkview Field had a tremendous amount to do with our not merely being included in the...teams invited to join the new Minor League Baseball, but moving up to High-A,” Nutter continued. “Fort Wayne’s ballpark is recognized as one of the top fan experiences in all of Minor League Baseball, and among the best playing surfaces and clubhouse facilities anywhere in the country. The important step that Fort Wayne took by building Parkview Field has not only helped revitalize downtown, but has also secured the long-term future of high-level affiliated baseball in the city."
The Fort Wayne franchise has been a Low-A full-season affiliate since it moved to the Summit City in 1993. The potential High-A designation means the team would be assigned more experienced players who are a step closer to the major leagues. In practical terms, it means that the TinCaps in 2021 would be assigned many of the same players they would have received in the lost 2020 season as a Low-A affiliate. Those players will simply be one year older.
The franchise has been affiliated with the Padres since 1999, the longest continuous stretch for an affiliate in Padres history.
"The Fort Wayne TinCaps and Parkview Field have been an integral part of the revitalization and success of our downtown,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement. “It's great that our community and region will now be part of High-A baseball through the changes to the Minor League Baseball system. We've enjoyed a tremendous partnership with the leadership of the TinCaps organization, and we look forward with optimism to 2021 and beyond."
Once the MiLB teams and leagues are completed, the TinCaps will receive their 2021 schedule.
“We look forward to the resumption of baseball at Parkview Field,” Nutter said. “We can’t wait until we have our 2021 schedule so fans can start planning to be out at the ballpark.”
The TinCaps still plan to monitor local and state health guidelines as they relate to the novel coronavirus pandemic as the team prepares to invite fans back to the downtown stadium.