Royals Storm Chasers Baseball

Kansas City Royals’ Alex Gordon gives autographs to fans prior to a 2019 exhibition baseball game against the Omaha Storm Chasers at Werner Park in Papillion, Nebraska.

The Kansas City Royals have announced their 2021 minor league affiliates, which will include Omaha (AAA), Northwest Arkansas (AA), Quad Cities (A+) and Columbia, SC (A) to make up the club’s minor league affiliates for the 2021 season.

“The Kansas City Royals are proud to formally announce that we have partnered with four great organizations,” Royals Vice President/Assistant GM-Player Performance J.J. Picollo said. “We are excited to continue our long-standing relationships with the Omaha Storm Chasers and Northwest Arkansas Naturals, who have been phenomenal to work with over the years and we are equally excited to have two new partners, the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Columbia Fireflies.

The Omaha and Kansas City franchises have joined forces since both began play in 1969, forming the longest active Triple-A affiliation in Minor League Baseball and third-longest affiliation overall. The Omaha franchise, which has carried the Storm Chasers nickname since 2011, has played more than 7,000 games as the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate, winning 16 division titles, seven league championships and three Triple-A championships (1990, 2013, 2014).

Northwest Arkansas resumes its affiliation with the Royals, having become Kansas City’s Double-A affiliate prior to the 2008 season, when they relocated from Wichita, Kan. Prior to that, the Wichita Wranglers served as the Royals’ Double-A affiliate from 1995-2007. Based in Springdale, Ark., the Naturals have reached the postseason seven times in 12 seasons, collected four division titles (2009, 2010, 2015, 2016) and one league championship in 2010.

Quad Cities will begin its partnership with the Royals in 2021, marking their first season at the Class A-Advanced level. Quad Cities has been affiliated with six other franchises since joining the Midwest League in 1960 and has won seven league titles (1968, 1971, 1979, 1990, 2011 and 2017) in that time. The River Bandits anchor the Quad Cities sports market, playing their home games at Modern Woodman Park in Davenport, Iowa.

Columbia (S.C.) will begin its first season as a Class A affiliate with the Royals. The Columbia franchise had partnered with the New York Mets for more than 25 seasons as the Columbia Mets (1983-92), the Capital City Bombers (1993-2004) and the Fireflies (2016-2020). In 2014, the Columbia Fireflies partnered with the City of Columbia and Hughes Development to construct Segra Park, which was named Baseball Digest “Ballpark of the Decade”. The Fireflies also received Baseball Digest’s Best New Branding and Logo Award in 2016.

Brandon Zenner can be reached at brandon.zenner@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZenner.