Could the Cincinnati Reds be adding a new affiliate in the Appalachian League? According to Baseball America’s Josh Norris that certainly sounds like the case.

Speaking with a source, if this goes through – and it sounds like it will, though not official yet – this will not replace the Billings Mustangs. The Reds and Mustangs professional development contract currently runs through 2018. The two have been partners since 1974, easily the longest among any of the Reds farm teams. The Astros had nine teams in their farm system, but after 2017 decided to go back to eight and dropped their Greenveville affiliate in the Appalachian League. The Reds currently have eight teams, including two Dominican Summer League teams. If this does go through, then they would move to nine minor league teams, seven of them being stateside.  It would give them two “advanced” rookie level teams to go along with the Arizona League Reds at the complex level.

The benefits would be instantaneous for the organization. Currently there is a bit of a crunch when it comes to playing time for some guys, especially at the rookie level. Finding at-bats and even innings pitched could be solved a bit with the addition of a new team. That’s going to provide additional chances for development of players that otherwise may not happen. The New York Yankees, for example, have TEN minor league affiliates. They have two Dominican Summer League teams, two Gulf Coast League rookie teams and two more “advanced rookie/short-season A-ball” teams to go along with the four full season teams. That amount of playing time available has to be beneficial for the organization and the players.

If the Reds are able to pick up the new affiliate in Greeneville it would be a stop between the Arizona League Reds and the Billings Mustangs according to a source that I spoke with. That would leave the chain to the big leagues like this:

  1. Dominican Summer League (Reds and Rojos)
  2. Arizona League Reds
  3. Greeneville (name to be changed since they were the Astros)
  4. Billings Mustangs
  5. Dayton Dragons
  6. Daytona Tortugas
  7. Pensacola Blue Wahoos
  8. Louisville Bats
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24 Responses

  1. Pat

    NIce ballpark and small town in Greenville, TN. Stadium is on the campus of Tusculum Univ small DII school. Not much trouble to get into there. Great to add another team at that level.

  2. Bill

    Surprised the Astros would give up a chance to develop players, but let’s hope they do and the Reds pounce!

  3. John

    So, the Appalachian League and the Pioneer League are basically the same level. The difference is (and I’m basing this on just stats from the previous year) that the Appy League is very pitcher-friendly and the Pioneer League is very hitter-friendly.

    So, wouldn’t it make sense that Greenville would be easier than Billings for the pitchers, but harder that Billings on the hitters? Given that, wouldn’t it make sense to do something kind of wonky in terms of progression through short season ball?

    Hitters would progress like this:
    1. Arizona
    2. Billings
    3. Greeneville

    Pitchers would progress like this:
    1. Arizona
    2. Greeneville
    3. Billings


    • Doug Gray

      I can’t see them doing it that way, but I’ve been wrong before.

  4. Kevin

    They just wanted Hunter to feel at home so they gave him a team

  5. AP

    This is pretty exciting. I am very excited for the off season. I really like Buchanan’s work. He articulates well. The other guy is so negative. Everything. Borderline unbearable. Regardless, looking forward to the Reds’ future.

  6. Greenfield Red

    It seems there have been some signs the Reds management/ownership is all in on winning and some others they are still trying to get by on the cheap side. To me, this would be a clear sign they are serious about player development and ultimately winning. I hope this comes to pass.

  7. MK

    Reds had a team in this league up until the mid-nineties the Princeton Reds. The will probably be the Greeneville Reds as all the teams in this league have used their affiliate’s nickname. This could be an advantage to the Dragons getting replacement players in a hurry as it can be difficult getting direct flights between there and Dayton.

    One of the kids who lived with us had to fly from Dayton to Minneapolis to Denver to Billings.

  8. William

    Is it just me, or does it make more sense to go

    The traveling cost would be reduced by quite a bit if that was the case. Players would just make their way to the east coast.

  9. DaveCT

    I like it. While the talent may be spread out more, there will certainly be plenty of at bats and innings available. Perhaps we will see leaner, meaner rosters.

  10. George

    Living here in Greeneville, this will be a GREAT place for your affiliate. The facility is beautiful, and more indicative of a Sally League or Carolina League facility. By far, the best facility in the Appy League.

    Having grown up in Northeast Ohio, I was hoping that Cleveland would return to the Appy League. But, I will root for you nonetheless if this is finalized.

  11. Marky Billson

    Really, the Reds shouldn’t be putting an Appalachian League franchise in Greeneville. They should strive to get their AA team closer to home, draft the market, and put an AA team in the Tri-Cities. Also, the Appalachian League is not equal to the Pioneer. Players historically were promoted from Princeton to Billings.

    • Doug Gray

      The Pioneer League actually is equal to the Appalachian League. I asked around to multiple people within baseball yesterday and they all said the same thing. Adding a new team is not going to cause them an issue with trying to improve their other affiliates if they believe there is a better fit.

      But, in regards to moving a team – they would have to buy a team and move it there, which would cost them somewhere in the $15-30M range. While MLB teams are buying minor league franchises these days, it’s not AA and AAA teams, which are usually the most expensive of the group because they tend to do well at the gates and are more valuable.

  12. Bill

    Is there a significant difference in the level of play between the advanced rookie leagues such as the Pioneer or Appalachian Leagues and the “Short Season A” leagues?

    • Doug Gray

      The competition level is the same in my opinion. They leagues are filled with the same kinds of players – recently drafted college guys and guys moving up from complex level baseball.

  13. The Duke

    I like that any logjams at CF or SS or C can be dealt with easier. I would have liked to have seen Miles Gordon in CF more last year.

  14. Norwood Nate

    And this could allow the SS overlap to sort itself between Hernandez, Downs, and Garcia. Between Greenville, Billings, and Dayton they can all find a place to play and get regular reps at SS.

    • The Duke

      Eh, I still think both Downs and Garcia are likely in full season ball, ideally both would start in Dayton, but that wouldn’t be ideal from the playing time standpoint. Although, most seem to see Garcia as more of a 2B anyway if I recall correctly.

      • Norwood Nate

        That’s interesting about Garcia and 2B, and something I have yet to come across. Where have you heard that from?

  15. Arnold Ziffle

    Good news. I have advocated for the Reds to do something like this for a many years now. Development and weeding out at the lower levels with an extra team has to be an advantage over teams that don’t. Funneling talent upwards.
    One day it might not hurt to have a second lower level A team. With Dayton’s attendance, they deserve a high A team or a AA team. I don’t know if there is a fit for a close by higher level league for Dayton though. I am not quite sure, but I believe Dayton’s attendance averages are better than A+ Daytona and AA Pensacola.
    I’ve been a to few Appalachian League parks over the last 20 years or so and most are not that great. Older venues. OK, but universities now have better facilities. There was a movement in the Sally League 20 years ago that saw many new stadiums built in that league’s towns. And also gave opportunity for towns to lure away teams from older stadiums with newer built stadiums. I can see a sililar movement in the Appalachian League starting. They have started to get better. If, by the accounts above, that Greeneville has a nice park, that is a big bonus for the Reds. A nice facility became open and the Reds jumped at the opportunity to place a team there. Good work.
    If other teams follow suit, it will give the Appy League a chance to grow and become a better league with new towns and new stadiums. I think there are 10 teams in the Appy League and they could easily grow to 12 or 14.

    • Geoege

      It’s not just the park that is nice here in Greeneville, it’s the whole facility. Beautiful stadium, but also great training facilities. As a whole, Appy League stadiums are outdated and minimal. Not so here. If you get a chance Google Pioneer Park, and you will see how nice the facility is.

  16. Krozley

    The article on says the Reds will own the team, thus staying there as long as they want.

    • MK

      Have to wonder if the Reds being the owners and having more of a financial stake in the teams financial success whether that will come into play when determining which players go here and which ones go elsewhere.