The Pittsburgh Pirates announced that they have signed a two-year Player Development Contract with the Greensboro Grasshoppers of the South Atlantic League. That ends their affiliation with the West Virginia Power, which started back in 2009.
Larry Broadway, the Pirates Director of Minor League Operations, had this to say about the move to Greensboro:
“We are extremely excited to begin a new relationship with the Greensboro Grasshoppers franchise,” said Broadway. “It is a first-class operation that plays in a first-class facility in front of a first-class fan base. We are looking forward to the player development opportunities that this new partnership will present. We are also looking forward to becoming entrenched in the greater Greensboro community by, among many other connections, bringing our Pirates Community Commitment Program in to ensure that help our players impact the community in a positive way.”
As for what this move means, there really isn’t much of a difference now since they are in the same division as before. The schedule will remain similar as well, so it won’t lead to more games being televised on MiLB.com because Greensboro doesn’t broadcast games (yet). Travel time for players going to Bradenton is cut down by about four hours (drive time), while Morgantown to Greensboro is about three hours longer, but it wasn’t a short trip before.
One positive for the players is that Greensboro had the highest attendance in the league, while West Virginia was third from the bottom. Greensboro average about 3,000 more fans per game.