According to MASNsports’ Steve Melewski, the Baltimore Orioles will no longer have the Frederick Keys as their Single-A affiliate starting in 2021. As of now, this will leave the Birds with Aberdeen and Delmarva as their Single-A affiliates. Of course they also have Double-A Bowie, and Triple-A Norfolk. Not to mention the Sarasota Orioles of the Gulf Coast League.
Frederick is expected to join new MLB Draft League, which is a new amateur league starting next summer. They would be the sixth team to join. So the Frederick Keys will exist moving forward, just not affiliated with the O’s. And I for one am happy about that.
Minor league teams are integral to the local economies of their areas. Frederick may not be a huge place, but the Keys are huge there. I know people in Frederick who aren’t necessarily baseball fans. But they love the Keys and they enjoy going to the games.
The Frederick Keys became an Orioles’ affiliate in 1989. It was one of the longest-standing relationships in baseball. It’s been a desirable relationship on both ends. And again, I feel it’s a shame that it’s coming to an end.
Keep in mind, Major League Baseball is trimming the number of minor league teams that are out there. So this isn’t the result of the Orioles or the Keys souring on the relationship. It’s been mutually beneficial. This is an initiative by MLB. And in my view a very poor one. But like it or not, this is apparently what’s happening.