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Marlins, Clinton LumberKings agree to 2-year player development contract

Through at least 2020, the Marlins will have their Low-A affiliate in the Midwest League.

Photo by @LumberKings/Twitter

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Marlins would seek a partnership with a different Low-A minor league affiliate after 16 years in Greensboro. On Thursday night, they made the switch official:

“The Clinton LumberKings are excited to welcome back to the Midwest League the Miami Marlins,” said LumberKings General Manager Ted Tornow. “This will give our knowledgeable fans a chance to look at the development of National League prospects for the first time in Clinton since 2002. We feel this will be a great partnership for success on the field, in the community, and for the development of these players.”

As Tornow alluded to in the above statement, the Marlins used to have a Midwest League affiliate. Their players developed with the Kane County Cougars from 1993 through 2002.

Great team name, by the way. The Clinton LumberKings represent a step up in creativity from the Greensboro Grasshoppers, who just hooked up with the Pirates through 2020. The LumberKings had a 10-year affiliation with the Seattle Mariners prior to this agreement. Their motto is “lumber up.”

Notable Marlins prospects Nick Neidert, Robert Dugger and Bryson Brigman were each drafted by the Mariners organization, and therefore played in Clinton recently. So did rookie right-hander Pablo López (international signing in 2012). Here’s proof!

López as a member of the 2016 LumberKings

Of some concern, the LumberKings have one of the oldest facilities in Minor League Baseball. Ashford University Field opened in 1937.

Thankfully, Clinton County assisted them with some upgrades last offseason (h/t Ballpark Digest). They installed a 65-foot ribbon board, laid fresh concrete on the concourse and replaced picnic benches for fans.

It is also worth noting that this nearly doubles the distance between Marlins player development headquarters (Jupiter, FL) and their Low-A affiliate. In the age of modern air travel, that might only mean an extra hour each way, but still an inconvenience.

Prospects expected to spend most of their 2019 season with the LumberKings include catcher Will Banfield, shortstop Osiris Johnson, outfielder Connor Scott and first baseman Sean Reynolds.