Quad Cities River Bandits invited to become Kansas City Royals affiliate team; Clinton LumberKings and Burlington Bees not invited for MLB affiliation

The team will move up to Advanced-A baseball beginning in 2021
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 11:42 AM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The Quad Cities River Bandits are among 11 other Midwest League teams moving up one level of play, according to Major League Baseball.

MLB announced Wednesday the River Bandits have been promoted from Single-A to Advanced-A baseball. This puts the players just below Double-A and one step closer to the major leagues.

The River Bandits announced the team has been invited to become the Advanced-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. Within the next two weeks, the team will receive a long-term Player Development License from MLB. The Bandits’ agreement with the Royals will last at least five years. Bleacher Report lists the Royals as having one of the Top Ten farm systems in baseball.

“Moving up to Advanced-A and securing a long-term affiliation with the Kansas City Royals will be the best thing to happen to baseball in the Quad Cities since the renovation of Modern Woodmen Park” River Bandits Owner Dave Heller said in a statement. “Having Advanced-A baseball in the Quad Cities means the players who come through our ballpark are markedly more likely to reach the major leagues. It’s a higher level of play, with better pitchers and better hitters and more experienced players. And there is no better organization in baseball than the Kansas City Royals, no one with whom we would rather affiliate. Dayton Moore, J.J. Picollo, Scott Sharp – they are the best. They do things the right way, treat people the right way. And they have a proven record building a World Series Champion. All of us in the Quad Cities who love baseball are extremely grateful to Senators Grassley and Ernst for all of their hard work. We can’t wait to welcome everyone in the Royals organization to the Quad Cities.”

Meanwhile, the news is disappointing for the Clinton Lumberkings and the Burlington Bees. They did not make the cut as part of the MLB restructuring, In a statement Ted Tornow, LumberKings General Manager said, “Today’s announcement by MLB confirms our traditional relationship with MLB is changing.”

“We have been doing extensive work and are considering several options for the future of the LumberKings franchise,” said Tornow. “We will announce our plans for the franchise in the very near future, but our great fans can rest assured that there will be baseball played at NelsonCorp Field in 2021 and beyond. We are working with MLB on making sure that Clinton has baseball in the future. We will have a different relationship with MLB moving forward .”

“MLB’s announcement, while disappointing, does not signify the end of baseball in Clinton,” said Tornow. “We want to thank our loyal fans for all of their support and encouragement since the news broke that we may lose affiliated ball in Clinton. We know what this team means to this community and we look forward to coming back better than ever in 2021.”

The LumberKings team was the longest-tenured club, and only remaining Charter Member, in the Midwest League.

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