by Nick Philips
Kaneland Krier Reporter
Kaneland—A two-year player development contract has been agreed to by the former Oakland Athletics Class A affiliate, the Kane County Cougars and Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals.
By switching its Class A affiliate to the Cougars, the Royals ended their 10-year relationship with the Burlington Bees. All of the prospects that the Royals will be putting at the Class A level will play for Kane County, while the Bees’ Class A prospects now will belong to the Oakland Athletics. The teams essentially switched players and affiliations.
Shawn Touney, a spokesperson for the Cougars, said that the team will be an affiliate of Kansas City for at least the next two seasons. At the MLB level, Kansas City has struggled for some time. The Cougars new feature a new selection of prospects to be drafted by the Royals.
“Kansas City has a competitive farm system, so it should be a nice mix for future stars. Kansas City is also nice because of geographic reasons,” Touney said.
This affiliation change makes Kansas City the third affiliate in the Cougar’s history. In 1991, when the team was established, the Cougars were a Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, a relationship that lasted only until 1992. During that stretch, the team had a below-average record of 129-143-1.
The next season, they became an affiliate of the Florida Marlins. During a stretch from 1993-2002, the Cougars compiled a 723-655 record and had star players that included Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and Ryan Dempster. From 2003-2010, the Cougars were affiliated with Oakland Athletics, compiling a 591-520 record. Pitchers Joe Blanton and Dallas Braden spent time with Kane County during that timeframe.
“Our affiliation with Oakland went real well,” Touney said. “We were competitive over the years. We were together eight years, and I believe we made the playoffs six times, which in itself is impressive.”
Touney said that many things will stay the same off the diamond.
“We still plan on doing promotions. Our front office will stay intact. The players coming our way start playing in April,” he said.