The Lynchburg Hillcats on Friday officially accepted the invitation to remain an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, signing Major League Baseball’s 10-year Professional Development License (PDL) agreement. The new contract, which runs through the 2030 season, continues the Hillcats’ affiliation with the Indians that dates back to the 2015 season.
Lynchburg, though, is ending its 30-year run as a Class A-Advanced affiliate and will be a Low-A affiliate for the next 10 years.
Major League Baseball on Friday announced the new structure for its 120-team minor league system that is divided into four classifications (Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Low-A).
The Hillcats’ new Low-A home, currently called Low-A East, features seven previous members of the Carolina League — Salem Red Sox, Fredericksburg Nationals, Carolina Mudcats, Down East Wood Ducks, Fayetteville Woodpeckers and Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
The 12-team league will be broken up into three divisions (North, Central and South) with four teams in each division.
The North Division features the three teams from Virginia (Lynchburg, Salem and Fredericksburg) and the one team from Maryland (Delmarva Shorebirds).
The Central is composed of the four North Carolina teams (Carolina, Down East, Fayetteville and Kannapolis Cannon Ballers), and the South is made up of four teams from South Carolina (Myrtle Beach, Augusta GreenJackets, Charleston RiverDogs and Columbia Fireflies).
MLB, in a release, announced the 10-year PDLs will “create many improvements to the experience and lifestyle of Minor League players,” ranging from salary increases of 38 to 72% for the 2021 season, modernized facility standards and improved amenities and working conditions that affiliated clubs must now meet, and better geographical alignment that will result in less in-season travel.
The new Low-A East league stretches from the Delmarva Peninsula to the South Carolina Lowcountry.
The Carolina League stretched from Wilmington, Delaware, to Myrtle Beach.
The Indians’ farm system, in addition to Lynchburg, includes Triple-A Columbus, Double-A Akron and High-A Lake County.