The Northwest Arkansas Naturals announce today a four-year extension of the club's player development contract with the Kansas City Royals, a pact that will keep the Naturals as Kansas City's Double-A affiliate through the 2016 season.
"We are extremely proud to continue our player development contract with the Kansas City Royals," said Naturals general manager Eric Edelstein. "We have seen the Royals commitment to a world-class player development system which extends beyond the field into the front office and the communities we both serve."
This extension is a continuation of a 17-year relationship between Rich Baseball and the Kansas City Royals, 12 of which have been under the Glass family ownership. Prior to moving to Northwest Arkansas in April 2008, the Wichita Wranglers had served as Kansas City's Double-A affiliate in the Texas League since the start of the 1995 season, and the Naturals have been a Royals affiliate since 2008.
The two teams have combined to make the playoffs 13 times during their affiliation and the Royals have fielded a pair of Texas League Championship clubs. Wichita won the League Championship in 1999 and Northwest Arkansas won in 2010. The Naturals have played in the postseason in all four of their seasons in Northwest Arkansas, the only Texas League team to do so in each of the past four years.
In the process, Naturals fans have seen over two dozen of their former players advance to the Major Leagues with the Kansas City Royals and have been a part of a farm system ranked by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season as the second-best system in all of baseball. The system was ranked first prior to the 2011 season, during which four former Naturals -- first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, catcher Salvador Perez, and second baseman Johnny Giavotella -- advanced from the Minors to the Royals' starting lineup.
Kansas City Royals director of player development Scott Sharp spoke at the announcement along with Naturals manager Brian Poldberg and Edelstein.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.