Florida Marlins Extend Minor League Partnership with Grasshoppers
GREENSBORO â€“ The Greensboro Grasshoppers and the two-time World Series Champion Florida Marlins have extended their Player Development Contract through the end of the 2010 baseball season, team officials announced today.
â€œWe love being here. This is a great place,â€ Marlins Vice President of Player Development and Scouting and Assistant General Manager Jim Fleming said during a recent visit to Greensboro. â€œThe fans are amazing, Donald (Grasshoppers President and General Manager Donald Moore) and his staff have treated us tremendously and itâ€™s been a great experience for us. To ensure that we remained here for another two years was a big deal.â€
Greensboro has been the Single-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins since the 2003 season when the team was still known as the Bats; the Marlins are the only parent team the Grasshoppers have ever known. Since moving to NewBridge Bank Park in 2005 and changing their name, the Grasshoppers have seen 146 Florida Marlins prospects suit up.
In 2006, the Marlins sent an unprecedented five first-round draft picks to Greensboro; together they formed the Hoppers starting rotation. Chris Volstad, Sean West, Ryan Tucker and Aaron Thompson began the season with Greensboro as first round picks from 2005. They were joined after the all-star break by Brett Sinkbeil, the Marlinsâ€™ top pick in the 2006 draft
â€œFrom a player stand-point itâ€™s nice to play in front of enthusiastic fans and people that appreciate what youâ€™re doing,â€ said Fleming. â€œItâ€™s a long haul for these kids. For most of them this is their first full season so the fans and the atmosphere give them some adrenaline every day and makes it easier to get going.â€
For one former Grasshopper, Tucker, the long haul to the top saw him make his Major League debut on June 8, 2008. Tucker threw five innings and gave up just one run no two hits while fanning five Cincinnati Reds batters to earn his first big-league victory.
â€œOur partnership with the Florida Marlins has been a tremendous success for the Greensboro community,â€ said Greensboro President and General Manager Donald Moore. â€œWe have a great relationship with the Marlins and our fans have been treated to some very special young talent. We are excited to be able to extend our contract for two more years and we look forward putting some of the Marlinsâ€™ best prospects in Grasshoppersâ€™ uniforms for years to come.â€
The Grasshoppers have welcomed over 1,250,000 fans to NewBridge Bank Park, becoming the only Class A team in the history of Minor League Baseball to draw over 400,000 fans and grow its attendance for three straight years in a new ballpark. They are the proud recipients of both the South Atlantic League’s Club Merit Award and the General Manager of the Year Award for the past three years.
*****from Justin Stottlemyre Hoppers’ media assistant*****