ATLANTA -- For the first time since 1968, the Braves will have a team in the Florida State League when the 2017 Minor League season begins.
The Braves on Friday announced they have reached a four-year agreement with the Brevard County Manatees that will begin next year and run through the end of the 2020 season. This Class A Advanced FSL club will play at Kissimmee's Osceola County Stadium, which has long served as the Spring Training home for the Astros, who are now planning to train in Palm Beach County.
"We are thrilled to reach this agreement with the Manatees," said Braves general manager John Coppolella in a statement. "We look forward to returning to the Florida State League and to our second home in Central Florida."
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This move ends the Braves' long affiliation with the Carolina League. The Carolina Mudcats had served as Atlanta's Class A Advanced affiliate the past two seasons.
Osceola County officials and Manatees ownership announced the move to Kissimmee in June. The Astros had previously held Spring Training at Osceola County Stadium since 1985, but they are moving to a new complex in West Palm Beach that they will share with the Nationals starting next spring.
After announcing the move, the Manatees started a name-the-team contest at probaseballbackincentralflorida.com. The submissions were cut down to six finalists, and the team will make an official name announcement in October.
Kissimmee hasn't featured a team in the FSL since 2000. By making this move, the Braves will have a participant in the circuit for the first time since the 1965-68 West Palm Beach Braves.
Osceola County Stadium is located approximately 25 minutes from the Braves' Spring Training facility in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Pat James is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.