The newest club in the Florida State League doesn't yet have a name, but it now has an affiliate.
The Atlanta Braves announced Friday that they had reached a four-year Player Development Contract (PDC) with the FSL's new Minor League team in Kissimmee, Florida. This Central Florida franchise, formerly the Brevard County Manatees, is set to unveil its name and logo next month. The team will play at Osceola County Stadium, which most recently served as the Spring Training home of the Houston Astros. The Manatees' had spent the past 12 seasons as an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, who are now seeking a new Class A Advanced affiliate.
Atlanta's previous Class A Advanced affiliation had been with the Carolina League's Carolina Mudcats, with whom they spent the last two seasons. The Braves' PDC with Central Florida runs through the 2020 season, marking the Kissimmee club the organization's first entrant into the FSL since the 1968 West Palm Beach Braves. Atlanta's Spring Training home of Champion Stadium is also located in Kissimmee, within Walt Disney World's Wide World of Sports Complex.
In a statement, Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella said, "We are thrilled to reach this agreement," and that the Braves "look forward to returning to the Florida State League and to our second home in Central Florida."
Joe Harrington, president of the soon-to-be-named Central Florida franchise, similarly expressed enthusiasm.
"We're excited about this new partnership with the Braves, especially given the team's long history here in Central Florida," he said. "We're looking forward to enhancing that existing relationship with a reintroduction of Minor League Baseball in our community. The Florida State League has a reputation as a development leader for future Major Leaguers, so it was a natural fit as we look to build the new franchise here at Osceola County Stadium."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.