The Sacramento River Cats, for 15 years regarded as one of baseball’s most successful minor league organizations, announced in September it would be making a big switch. Beginning this season, the team will no longer be the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics but will instead become the top-dog minor league team for the San Francisco Giants.
The River Cats have been playing at Raley Field in West Sacramento since moving from Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2000. The team has frequently led the nation in Triple-A level attendance (No. 1 in eight of the past 10 seasons), and has won four Pacific Coast League titles and two Triple-A championships. All of that time, the team was affiliated with the A’s, so River Cats’ players and coaches were employees of Oakland’s team.
Now, Sacramento-area Giants fans will have a chance to see their team’s best young prospects either en route to the majors or taking it easy during rehab from injuries. The River Cats uniforms, colors and logos are not expected to change. The Oakland A’s have signed a 4-year agreement with Nashville’s Triple-A team, the Sounds, and will play in that city’s new 10,000-seat ballpark starting this spring. The Giants were formerly affiliated with the Fresno Grizzlies, who will now be the Triple-A team for the Houston Astros.
In a press release, River Cats President Jeff Savage said: “We appreciate the 15 successful years we’ve had with the Oakland Athletics. Our mission here at Raley Field has always been, and always will be, giving the Sacramento community the best fan experience possible. We’re extremely excited to join the Giants family and can’t wait for our 2015 home opener on April 9.”
Purchased by majority owner Art Savage in 1998, the Vancouver Canadians moved to West Sacramento in 2000, became the River Cats and moved into their current home at Raley Field.
The Giants have won three World Series crowns in the past five years (2010, 2012, 2014). The Giants’ minor league system includes the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A), San Jose Giants (Single-A Advanced), Augusta GreenJackets (Single-A), and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Short Season).
Check back next week to hear how Andrew Susac went from the minors to the major league — earning major bucks — in Steve Martarano’s February feature “Great Expectations: The dollar and cents of baseball’s next big deal.” Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll email you as soon as it’s online!