Augusta GreenJackets team owner Ripken Baseball Group and the Giants will announce a renewal of their player development contract this week. As the club’s Single-A affiliate, the GreenJackets’ rosters will continue to be filled with minor league players within the Giants’ organization.
Since the affiliation began in 2005, several current Giants stars have gone through Augusta on their way to the big leagues, including Pablo Sandoval, Brian Wilson and Madison Bumgarner.
“We’ve always been happy with the Giants,” said Jeff Eiseman, Ripken Baseball’s vice president of sales and marketing. “They’ve given us what has to be the longest run of winning baseball in Augusta’s history.”
The GreenJackets have posted a winning record every year since Augusta lost its connection with the Boston Red Sox after the 2004 season and landed the partnership with the Giants. Five of those seven seasons also saw the team earn the best record in the South Atlantic League’s Southern Division.
Eiseman said renewing the partnership was important to the GreenJackets’ future.
“You want to be affiliated with an organization that cares about winning, cares about player development and cares about being involved and active in the community,” he said. “We’ve got an awesome partner in the San Francisco Giants. I can’t think of a better group to be with, and they want to be here.”
Giants vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans visited Augusta last month and said the Giants were pleased with the affiliation but expressed displeasure at Lake Olmstead Stadium’s deteriorating facilities.
“The reality is the facilities are probably the biggest downside for us right now,” he said.
Minor improvements have been made at the 17-year-old stadium this season including new netting behind home plate.
“They know we’re working at it and the effort is being made to change and to improve for them,” Eiseman said. “As long as they know we’re consistent in what we do I believe this can be stay a long-term marriage.”
While improving the current facilities would help strengthen Augusta’s relationship with the Giants, Evans hinted at a new stadium as a better long-term solution. Ripken Baseball has been pursuing a new home within the Augusta market for more than five years but such plans have yet to produce anything more than talk.
“We’ll have to see. I never say never. We’re exploring options in the area, and we’ll see what shakes out when it’s time,” Eiseman said. “I don’t think there’s anything that’s eminent right now. But I’m bullishly optimistic that something will shake out and we’ll have some news on the topic before year’s end.”