The agreement means that Vermont will be the New York-Penn League affiliate for Oakland after the Lake Monsters had been partners with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals franchise for 17 years dating back to Vermont's first season in 1994 (the Nationals moved their NY-Penn League affiliation to the Auburn Doubledays on Tuesday).
The Athletics short-season Single-A team had been located in Vancouver, British Columbia since the 2000 season, but Toronto and the Vancouver Canadians recently signed a four-year PDC moving the Blue Jays short-season team from Auburn to Vancouver of the Northwest League.
"We are thrilled to be the newest member of the (Oakland) Athletics family," Lake Monsters General Manager Nate Cloutier said. "The A's are an organization who have a great reputation for developing talent and having an elite farm system, and we are looking forward to showcasing their team here in Burlington."
The 2010 Vancouver Canadians finished second in the West Division with a 42-34 record, losing two straight games to Everett in the Northwest League semifinals. During their 11 seasons as an Athletics affiliate, the Canadians were 424-411 (.508) with five winning seasons. The Lake Monsters were 348-474 (.423) with two winning seasons from 2000 to 2010 as a Nationals affiliate.
Prior to the 2010 season, Baseball America ranked the Athletics with the fifth-best farm system in the Major Leagues (Nationals were 28th of 30). In the 11 years that Vancouver was affiliated with Oakland, 38 former Canadian players reached the Major Leagues including Rich Harden, Nelson Cruz, Nick Swisher, Mark Teahen, Joe Blanton, Andre Ethier, Kurt Suzuki, Dallas Braden and Andrew Bailey.
"We are excited to reestablish a connection between the Burlington community and the Athletics, just like we had back in the 1950's when we had the Burlington A's of the Provincial League," said Cloutier of the Burlington A's who were a Class C Minor League team for the Kansas City Athletics back in 1955 and lost to the Quebec Braves in the Provincial League championship series.
The Athletics also announced a player development agreement today with the Burlington (Iowa) Bees of the Single-A Midwest League, which is one level above the short-season New York-Penn League.
"We feel extremely fortunate to add Burlington (Iowa) and Vermont as minor league affiliates," said A's Vice President and General Manager Billy Beane in Oakland's press release. "Both areas are steeped in rich baseball history and offer very supportive communities. It should be an exciting and mutually beneficial partnership for all parties involved. We look forward to the opportunity to field competitive rosters and outstanding coaching staffs at both locations."
Oakland's other short-season affiliate is the Arizona League Athletics, while their long-season advanced Single-A affiliate is the Stockton Ports in the California League. The Athletics Double-A affiliate is the Midland RockHounds in the Texas League and the Sacramento River Cats are their Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.
The Lake Monsters will begin their 18th New York-Penn League season in June of 2011. Season tickets can be purhased now online at www.vermontlakemonsters.com, by phone at (802) 655-4200 or in person at the Lake Monsters front office at the top of the King Street Ferry Dock.