LAKELAND, Fla. -- The future of the Tigers' Double-A affiliate in Erie, Pa. gained some certainty on Friday, when an agreement was announced for Reds minority owner Fernando Aguirre to purchase the team.
The SeaWolves, a part of the Tigers' farm system since 2001, had been for sale for some time. Mandalay Baseball Properties has owned the team since 2003, along with several other Minor League franchises.
Aguirre, who also holds ownership interest in the Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, told reporters in Erie he intends to pursue a long-term deal to keep the franchise there. The success likely hinges on the future of Jerry Uht Park downtown. Team president Greg Coleman will continue to oversee day-to-day operations.
The Tigers have a player-development contract with the SeaWolves that runs through 2016, and they have been happy with the arrangement despite the comparative distance.
While Erie is just over a four-hour drive from Comerica Park, it's about a one-hour flight from Detroit, a proximity the Tigers have used for callups over the years. The Tigers normally use Triple-A Toledo and Class A Grand Rapids for player rehab assignments, given the shorter drive, but have increasingly called up top prospects directly from Erie, most recently slugging outfielder Steven Moya last September.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.