Bucs' FSL purchase, move approved

Bucs' FSL purchase, move approved

PITTSBURGH -- Florida State League owners have approved the Pirates' bid to purchase Cincinnati's high-A club, the final step in Pittsburgh's pursuit to move a Minor League affiliate to Bradenton, Fla.

With this approval, the Pirates have assumed control of the Reds' Class A team in Sarasota, Fla., and are relocating that club to Bradenton, already Pittsburgh's Spring Training and Gulf Coast League home.

The Reds needed to find a team to play in Sarasota after moving their Spring Training home to Goodyear, Ariz.

"We are extremely excited to bring our high-A team to Bradenton," said Pirates president Frank Coonelly. "This was an investment that our general manager Neal Huntington and director of player development Kyle Stark believed would further enhance the development of our Minor League players by stabilizing this critical level of player development in an outstanding environment for teaching and instruction."

As part of the swap between the Reds and Pirates, Cincinnati will move its high-A team to Lynchburg, Va., which had been home to the Pirates' high-A team since 1995. The Hillcats approved the exchange even though the Pirates had one year remaining on their contract.

The Pirates' new Bradenton club has not yet been given an official name or logo, though that is expected to be announced in the next few weeks. So, too, will the team's 140-game schedule for 2010. However, the Pirates have already announced that the high-A club will open its season April 8 in a night game at McKechnie Field.

As a byproduct of this purchase and move, the Pirates are also expected to make renovations to McKechnie Field. That will not only benefit the FSL and GCL teams, but also Pittsburgh's Major League club, which plays its Grapefruit League games at McKechnie Field.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.