Thursday, September 20, 2012
Legends sign player-development contract with Kansas City Royals through 2016
For the first time in franchise history, the Lexington Legends will field players from an organization other than the Houston Astros next season.
On Thursday, the Legends and Kansas City Royals announced a new player-development contract that will run through the 2016 season.
“We have long coveted the South Atlantic League as one of the best leagues in baseball for developing young players.” said Royals Director of Minor League Operations Scott Sharp in a news release. “The fact that we get the chance to join the league in one of the finest facilities with a strong ownership group and front office staff is a tremendous bonus. We look forward to the new relationship and making new Royals fans in the great state of Kentucky.”
Legends Chairman Bill Shea and President and COO Andy Shea previously were part owners of the Omaha Royals, the AAA Pacific Coast League affiliate for Kansas City. The Sheas sold their interest in the Omaha team earlier this year.
“I have had the fortunate experience of getting to work with the Kansas City Royals the past five seasons through our ownership stake in the Omaha club,” Andy Shea said in the release. “Every single occasion has been the ultimate professional encounter. This is a fantastic fit for Lexington, Whitaker Bank Ballpark, and the Lexington Legends. We look forward to being a part of the Royals continued dedication to the minor league system and the growth of both clubs.”
The Royals low A affiliate was previously the Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League. Kane County announced a new player-development contract with the Chicago Cubs Wednesday.
The move ends the 12-year relationship between the Legends and Astros.
“The Legends want to thank the Astros for all their support over the first 12 years of our existence,” said Lexington Legends General Manager Seth Poteat in the release. “We can’t tell you how much we respect and greatly appreciate all the hard work and dedication they’ve shown us over the years. We wish the Astros nothing but the best as we both move forward.”
The on-the-field talent sent to Lexington by the Astros has waned since the team posted winning seasons in each of its first three years of existence. The 69-69 record in 2012 was Lexington’s first .500 record since 2006. From 2007 to 2011, the Legends combined for a 302-393 record.
Despite the struggles on the field, The Legends have ranked no lower than fourth in average attendance in the South Atlantic League in any of the franchise’s 12 seasons. In 2012, the Legends averaged 4,352 fans per game, fourth most in the league.
If the Legends and Astros had continued their agreement, fans likely could have seen 2012 No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa and the player Houston selects with the No. 1 pick in 2013 draft during the next two seasons.
Still, Lexington should have no shortage of talent in the foreseeable future.
The 2013 Legends should feature several members of the 2012 Burlington Royals, who their division and compiled the second best record in the rookie-level Appalachian League. Burlington outfielder Bubba Starling, who Baseball America ranked as the No. 46 on its midseason top 50 prospects list, could spend part of 2012 in Lexington. Right-handed pitcher Kyle Zimmer, the 2012 draft’s No. 5 overall pick, made six starts for Kane County in 2012 and could open the year with Lexington.
Baseball America ranked the Royals No. 3 on its list of organizational talent levels entering the 2012 season.