For the first time since 1993, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox will take the field with players not associated with the Colorado Rockies.
And it may only be a matter of days, not weeks, before area fans find out if the Sky Sox roster will be populated by Houston or Milwaukee players.
Sky Sox general manager and president Tony Ensor sees opportunity in the affiliation change, the first for the Triple-A franchise since 1993.
“We are talking about two organizations, Houston and Milwaukee that are on the rise,” Ensor said. “Milwaukee is contending for the playoffs and many see the Astros as the team of the future.
“The thing everyone needs to remember is there will be Triple-A baseball here on April 9, 2015 and will be for many years to come. This is exciting.”
All the player development contracts between Major League and Triple-A baseball organizations must be completed by Sept. 30.
“They (the Rockies) made a business decision and while it is disappointing we recognize their right to make that choice,” Ensor said. “They contacted me about their decision earlier today (Wednesday) and I have already been in touch with the other teams (Houston and Milwaukee). We have two weeks to make a decision but I expect we will have an announcement well before then.”
The Rockies’ Triple-A club will be the Albuquerque Isotopes.
The falling of Pacific Coast League dominoes started when members of the Dodgers ownership group purchased the Oklahoma City RedHawks recently, ensuring they would move the organization’s affiliation there.
Ensor and others stressed that changing affiliation, while not common for Colorado Springs, is the norm elsewhere.
“It's a big move but this is something that happens pretty regularly with organizations,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “Affiliates move a lot. I think half the PCL will be moving. It's fairly common but it will change the dynamics of things for sure.”
The Sky Sox still have the Triple A franchise rights for the area and will continue in Colorado Springs for years to come, Ensor said.
Either Houston or Milwaukee would be the fourth organization in Sky Sox franchise history, starting with the Chicago White Sox (1950-58), Cleveland Indians (1988-92), Rockies (1993-2014).
The Rockies also cut ties with their Double-A affiliate in Tulsa and Single-A Tri-Cities. The Double-A Eastern League's New Brittain (Conn.) Rock Cats announced a two-year deal with the Rockies on Wednesday.
The Sky Sox came to Colorado Springs in 1988 from Honolulu and were affiliated with the Cleveland Indians before Denver was awarded a big-league franchise.
Nothing about the team, from its front office staff, promotions or even the mascot Sox the Fox, figures to change regardless of which major league team is connected with the Sky Sox.
Joe Paisley and Paul Klee contributed to this story.