For the past two years, the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate could be found in Fresno, California — a whopping 2,793 miles from the nation’s capital. That’s not exactly a logistical boon for an organization, considering you might need to get a player to the big league club fast in the case of an emergency.
Before then, the Syracuse Chiefs served as the final stop before the big leagues for Nationals’ hopefuls, but the Chiefs now represent the New York Mets.
In short, Washington needed a team that was going to be much more accessible than what they’ve had in Fresno the last two seasons (although this wasn’t really a problem in 2020).
Then the Rochester Red Wings came-a-callin’. Rochester first became an active club in 1899 as the Rochester Bronchos, and first became an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1929, remaining with St. Louis for 31 years. The team then moved on to the Baltimore Orioles between 1961 and 2002 before settling with the Minnesota Twins for the last 17 years. Now, Rochester has another parent club.
Having been a Double-A team since 1912 before ultimately becoming a Triple-A club in 1946, the Red Wings have seen plenty of notable major leaguers come through their ballpark, including Bob Gibson, Joe Mauer, Eddie Murray, Stan Musial, Mike Mussina, Cal Ripken, Jr., Curt Schilling, Red Schoendienst, and both Frank Robinson and Earl Weaver as managers, among others.
Now the hope is that prominent Nats’ prospects will soon be featured on that list of notable alumni. But for the time being, this move gives the front office more roster flexibility.
After all, Rochester’s Frontier Field is only 383 miles away from Nationals Park in DC, a comfortable and short 6-and-a-half hour road trip in comparison to the cross-country trek which would’ve been a headache for minor leaguers and travel personnel alike. Or, if a player is needed in a pinch, it’s a one hour, 15 minute plane ride. Welcome, Red Wings.