The Delmarva Shorebirds have received an invitation from the Baltimore Orioles to remain their Class-A affiliate.
There had been some concern about the team’s future as the Orioles farm system was subjected to a nationwide contraction in which Major League Baseball is taking over control of the minor leagues and creating more geographically based leagues for the four full-season levels, while also raising the standards of facilities required to host affiliated baseball.
Recent upgrades to Arthur W. Perdue Stadium and continued local support for the team were cited as possible reasons for the Shorebirds remaining part of the Orioles family.
The consolidations meant there were only four spots for the Orioles’ five teams. The Frederick Keys were left out of the Orioles’s farm system family.
According to reports, Frederick will be joining the new MLB Draft League for draft-eligible college juniors to continue to play and get exposure before the July amateur draft.
The Aberdeen IronBirds were invited to replace Frederick as the Orioles’ High-A affiliate.
The Orioles also invited the Norfolk Tides to remain as their Triple-A affiliate, the Bowie Baysox to continue as their Double-A affiliate, and the Shorebirds to carry on as their Low-A affiliate.
Hagerstown, which has most recently been affiliated with the Washington Nationals, did not receive an invitation from MLB to continue on as a minor league affiliate.
“Since the club moved to Baltimore in 1954, Orioles baseball has been a way of life in the state of Maryland,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement. “This affirms the club’s longstanding commitment to the region, and I am as proud as ever to call myself an Orioles fan. The future of the Orioles and of the game of baseball in Maryland is bright.”
For more than two decades, the Shorebirds have been landing spots for young stars including Trey Mancini, John Means, Adley Rutschman and many more.
“The Orioles have been a terrific partner and we appreciate their invitation to remain the Class-A Orioles affiliate,” said Chris Bitters, Shorebirds General Manager.
In 2019, the Shorebirds posted the best record in the history of the team capturing a 90-win season and a South Atlantic League regular-season crown. In addition, the Shorebirds were named the MiLB team of the year in 2019 with eight Shorebirds earning mid-season All-Star accolades and four earning postseason honors.
Throughout 2019, the Shorebirds hosted a plethora of the Orioles top prospects including Grayson Rodriguez and Adam Hall, who both earned multiple accolades come season's end.
In addition, the Shorebirds welcomed the likes of 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick and current top prospect Adley Rutschman.
Bitters said that while 2020 has brought unprecedented challenges for everyone, the Shorebirds remain committed to serving the community and growing for years to come.
“It's always been our focus with the Shorebirds to be active within our community and that will always remain a top priority in our organization,” said Bitters.
“We are thankful for all of our stakeholders supporting us through these challenging times and the Shorebirds would not be the same without our loyal fans whose support is unwavering,” he said.
The Shorebirds 2021 schedule will be released at a later date to be determined. Ticket plans, suite rentals, and group outings are on sale and available for the 2021 season.