The long-awaited minor league restructuring is here, and the Orioles are ending their three-decade affiliation with Frederick and replacing it with Aberdeen.
Frederick, which had been the Orioles’ longest-running affiliate in the High-A Carolina League, will move to the new Major League Baseball Draft League. The Keys had been affiliated with the Orioles since 1989.
Aberdeen, which has been part of the Orioles’ system as their Short-Season A team in the New York/Penn League since 2002, becomes a full-season affiliate in High-A.
Triple-A Norfolk, Double-A Bowie and Low-A Delmarva will continue with the Orioles. They’ve been affiliated with the Tides since 2007, the Baysox since 1993, and the Shorebirds since 1997.
“We are proud to continue the Orioles’ tradition of creating baseball across Maryland and our region,” Mike Elias, Orioles executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement. “We believe the structure of our minor league affiliates will enable us to continue fortifying a robust pipeline of talent that will graduate top prospects to Camden Yards in the very near future and for years to come, and we are excited to have secured a home for the MLB Draft League in Maryland as well. We are eager to continue working with our local communities as we strive to build the best player development system in baseball, with an eye towards our ultimate goal of developing a championship-caliber team.”
In MLB’s restructuring, each team will be limited to four full-season affiliates.
“We are ecstatic to have Frederick continue to be a gateway to the majors in the all-new MLB Draft League and cannot wait for another season of Keys baseball,” said Keys president and owner Ken Young. “Frederick is such a wonderful community with tremendous fans and support. Over the years the Keys have been one of the best drawing franchises in the Carolina League and we very much appreciate that commitment from the greater Frederick area.”
Western Maryland will be without affiliated baseball as the Washington Nationals dropped their Low-A team in Hagerstown. Instead of replacing it with Frederick, they’ve opted to move their High-A operation to Wilmington, Delaware and move their Fredericksburg, Virginia team from High-A to Low-A.