Mariners sail in as new parent club for the Power
When the West Virginia Power return to the playing field at Appalachian Power Park for the 2019 season, a new parent club will be working with the low-Class A minor league club.
The local club has announced that it has signed a player development contract with the Seattle Mariners, replacing the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Power were the Pirates’ low-Class A affiliate since the 2009 season.
I got an update on the big change from David Kahn, the club’s media and broadcast director, who said, “It’s a very exciting time, a little bittersweet, but that’s part of the business of minor league baseball. At the end of the season, we found out Pittsburgh wanted to move in a different direction, so we put out our availability and Seattle liked what we had to offer.”
This is Seattle’s first South Atlantic League club. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has moved its low-Class A operations to Greensboro, which is also in the South Atlantic League.
I have always enjoyed going to Appalachian Power Park and checking out the up-and-coming ballplayers trying to work their way to the major leagues. That strong competition I have witnessed was also noticed by Seattle, according to Kahn.
“They were looking for a high level of competition for their young players to learn and compete in. The overall leadership and stability of the league was important for them to choose the Power,” he said.
There is a good chance that the Power will have several players ranked among the Mariners’ top prospects by MLB.com, including pitcher Logan Gilbert, centerfielder Josh Stowers, shortstop Noelvi Marte and catcher Cal Raleigh.
Change can be scary sometimes, I have learned, like going from middle school to high school, which I am experiencing this year. I wanted to know from Kahn, what changes Power fans can expect.
“In reality, it really doesn’t mean a whole lot besides a change of players and a new coaching staff. The uniform colors aren’t going to change. I guess the big thing is when fans come to the ballpark, you are not going to see Pittsburgh Pirates stuff anymore, you are going to see Seattle Mariners
stuff all over the ballpark, along with Mariners prospects on the field. Just minor league baseball at its finest.”
The 2019 season will be the 15th season for the club at Power Park.
While the playoffs have begun in the major leagues, most minor league seasons concluded around Labor Day. It wasn’t long after that the change started to begin, according to Kahn. “There is a timeline when the season ends, and you have a certain time period to renegotiate with your current affiliate and then there is a deadline, about a couple of weeks after the season, where major league clubs have to declare their intentions. The deadline came and went without a deal with Pittsburgh, so we went on the market and worked the deal out with Seattle.”
Other teams looking at the Power as a possible low Class-A affiliate, besides Seattle, included Miami, Chicago, Arizona, Los Angeles and Kansas City.
So, for the last 10 years, there were times I felt I was at a Pirates game at Power Park with the parent club’s “P” posted throughout the ballpark. I asked Kahn about when the anticipated transition was going to take place within Power Park. “The changes are already underway,” he said. “It is going to take a little bit to change everything over from Pittsburgh to Seattle, but it will definitely be all done when the fans arrive for Opening Day next season.”
One thing the Mariners should really be happy about: The Power are hosting the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.
Christian Deiss, 14, of Scott Depot is a freshman at Hurricane High School.