COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Columbia Fireflies today announced that they have been invited to join the newly configured Minor League Baseball as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The initial term of the offered affiliation is ten years, assuring a long-standing relationship that will extend through at least the
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Columbia Fireflies today announced that they have been invited to join the newly configured Minor League Baseball as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The initial term of the offered affiliation is ten years, assuring a long-standing relationship that will extend through at least the 2030 season.
The Fireflies are pleased to have received this invitation and look forward to reviewing the complete terms and conditions of the new license that will be offered by Major League Baseball.
“There has been a lot of anticipation regarding the restructuring of Minor League Baseball,” said Fireflies President John Katz. “We’re excited that the Fireflies have been invited to join. We look forward to the details being worked out and giving fans in Columbia an opportunity to enjoy top-quality professional baseball for years to come.”
The Fireflies were chosen as one of the 120 teams to continue to have a direct affiliation with a Major League partner moving forward. “The quality of Segra Park—named “Ballpark of the Decade” for the 2010s—and the tremendous progress at BullStreet have helped secure the invitation for the Fireflies to continue in affiliated Minor League Baseball for years to come,” said Fireflies’ Managing Owner Jason Freier. “We want to thank Mayor Steve Benjamin, the City Council and the City Manager and staff for their vision and partnership.”
Mayor Benjamin looks forward to the Fireflies and Major League Baseball working out a final agreement and welcoming a new partner to town: "We couldn't be more excited than to become a part of the Royals family. A highly respected organization rich in tradition, we look forward to continued victories together at Segra Park."
The Fireflies are also appreciative of the support Congressmen Jim Clyburn and Joe Wilson have offered Minor League Baseball and the Fireflies, which has helped the team get through these difficult times.
“The Fireflies brought professional baseball back to Columbia and I am thrilled that this partnership with the Royals guarantees fans can see games at Segra Park for ten more years,” said Congressman Clyburn. “My father believed that baseball is something that everybody should learn, and I was a pretty good second baseman in high school because he shared his love of the game. The Fireflies success will continue to inspire an appreciation for America’s national pastime.”
“Throughout the pandemic, I have worked in Congress to provide relief for minor league baseball clubs that have been threatened by the cancelation of the 2020 season,” said Congressman Joe Wilson. “I look forward to returning to Segra Park for a Fireflies game with friends and family soon and welcome the Kansas City Royals family to Columbia. Minor League Baseball is cherished in the Midlands.”
The Royals are slated to become the second Major League team to be associated with the Fireflies. The New York Mets had been affiliated with the Minor League Baseball team in Columbia since 1983 as the Columbia Mets (1983-1992), the Capital City Bombers (1993-2004) and the Fireflies (2016-2020), spending more than 25 seasons sending players to the South Carolina’s Capital. The last team not affiliated with the Mets in Columbia were the Columbia Reds, who played in 1960-61.
The Royals had been affiliated with the Lexington Legends since 2012 and had won back-to-back South Atlantic League Championships prior to the loss of the 2020 season.
”The Royals have one of the top farm systems in all of baseball,” said Fireflies team president John Katz. “Their coaches and players that have come to Segra Park as visitors have been first class, and we’re looking forward to getting them into the home dugout.”
The Royals’ farm system is already considered to be in the top-tier of talent-laden systems, and should only get better in the next few seasons as Kansas City tries to bolster a window of contention in the future. MiLB.com ranks their farm as the 11th-best in Baseball and Bleacher Report slides them into the 10th spot among big league teams. A few highly-touted prospects who could end up in the Soda City in the near-future include baseball’s eighth-best prospect, shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who was picked second-overall in the 2019 draft and who last played rookie ball in 2019, and a dominant south paw, Asa Lacy, who went fourth overall in the 2020 draft.
The South Atlantic League has seen a bevy of talent come through the Royals system in recent years, including Seuly Matias, who socked 31 homers on his way to Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star honors in 2018. MJ Melendez showed similar displays of power in the Legends 2018 post-season run.
“Once the Minor League Baseball teams and leagues are finalized and formalized, the Fireflies will receive their 2021 schedule. “We look forward to the resumption of baseball at Segra Park,” said Katz. “We can’t wait until we have our 2021 schedule so fans can start planning to be out at the ballpark.”
As planning for 2021 continues, the Fireflies will monitor South Carolina and Richland County COVID-19 related projected protocols, requirements, and recommendations for the Spring and Summer months.
“We’ll approach the 2021 season with extreme care and consideration,” Katz said. “Every event at Segra Park will put the health and safety of our fans, guests, staff, and players first. We’re hopeful that between now and Opening Day we’ll see tremendous strides taken towards returning to some level of normalcy. Whatever the situation when it’s time to ‘play ball,’ we’ll be ready as a staff and as a facility.”
For more details about the Columbia Fireflies and the upcoming 2021 season, visit ColumbiaFireflies.com.