Giants align with Sacramento for new Triple-A affiliate

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants entered into a two-year Player Development Contract with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, the club announced Thursday afternoon. A press conference is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. PT at Raley Field.

The move will begin in the 2015 season. The Giants' current Triple-A affiliate is the Fresno Grizzlies.

"First and foremost, the Giants want to express our sincere appreciation to the Fresno community, in particular to Mayor Ashley Swearengin, the Grizzlies ownership and the fans, for their longtime support of our club," Giants President and Chief Executive Officer Larry Baer said in a press release. "It was a difficult decision to move our affiliate, but ultimately we felt that the proximity of the River Cats to San Francisco was critical to the development of our players. We look forward to working with the River Cats organization to continue to deliver a top baseball experience to our players and the fans."

During their first 15 years in Sacramento, the River Cats were affiliated with the Oakland Athletics, during which time they won 11 division titles, four Pacific Coast League titles, and two Triple-A championships. Though the River Cats have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history, the club led the Pacific Coast League in attendance in 2014, and has welcomed more fans through their gates than any other Minor League organization since 2000.

"We appreciate the 15 successful years we've had with the Oakland Athletics," said River Cats President Jeff Savage, "and we're grateful for the tremendous support that the region has shown us. Our mission here at Raley Field has always been, and always will be, giving the Sacramento community the best fan experience possible. We're extremely excited to join the Giants family, and can't wait for our 2015 home opener on April 9."

Sacramento joins the Giants' Minor League system that includes the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A), San Jose Giants (Single-A Advanced), Augusta GreenJackets (Single-A), and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Short Season).

"Sacramento is a great baseball town and the area has traditionally produced top baseball talent for the Major Leagues," Giants Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Sabean said in the release. "Our affiliation with the River Cats provides us with an outstanding player development environment, and we are excited about the opportunity to work with our young players at Raley Field."

Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.