ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The future of Minor League Baseball in our area is looking bright. Both the Salem Red Sox and the Lynchburg Hillcats got an invitation to continue to have baseball. In conjunction with Major League Baseball’s new Minor League player development structure, the Red Sox today invited the Salem Red Sox (A) for continued professional affiliation. “We are pleased that Salem has been invited to continue their affiliation and will remain part of the extended Red Sox family,” said Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy. “Our farm system is an essential component in our work to create a more consistent and efficient operation that helps us play October baseball each and every year. We thank our affiliates for the significant role they play in shaping our future stars, and look forward to continuing our relationship under MLB’s improved player development structure.” “We are delighted by our continued affiliation with the Boston Red Sox, one of MLB’s premiere organizations,” said Salem Red Sox Managing Director Jeff White. “A more than decade-long partnership with the City of Salem, the entire Roanoke valley community, and the loyal employees of the Salem Sox continues. In this most difficult of times, it’s a sign of continuity and hope, welcomed by all.”
The Lynchburg Hillcats are pleased to announce they have been formally invited by the Cleveland Indians to become their new Low-A affiliate. Once full details are revealed, the Hillcats will be evaluating the proposal to confirm it meets the necessary criteria for the team, the fans, and the Lynchburg community before the invitation is accepted.
This announcement comes after a lengthy negotiation period in which Major League Baseball has engaged with clubs in an effort to modernize the traditional Minor League structure. The 2021 game schedule will be announced at a later date and is expected to consist of 132 games.
“Although the last nine months has featured many unknowns, we are excited at the prospect of remaining with the Indians, a team we’ve been affiliated with since 2015 and an organization that helped deliver a championship to the Hill City in 2017,” said Hillcats President and General Manager Chris Jones. “We appreciate Cleveland’s commitment to top-notch player development and working with us to keep professional baseball in Lynchburg for years to come. We can’t wait to host baseball games again at Bank of the James Stadium and do what we do best — provide affordable family fun to our passionate fans.”
The pending move to Low-A ends a 30-year run as an A-Adv. affiliate, when the Hillcats were members of the Carolina League. Lynchburg was last a Low-A club in 1989 as a Boston Red Sox affiliate. The new league name for 2021 and beyond is still being finalized.