Lansing, Michigan will continue to have the presence of Toronto Blue Jays prospects at least through the 2016 season, as the single-A Midwest League's Lugnuts have extended their player development contract (PDC) with the Blue Jays, according to a joint press release today. (We had known about this for a while, but was just waiting for the official word.) The Blue Jays have had their low-A affiliate in Lansing since 2005 longer than any other current affiliate other than the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats and the club-owned advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays.
In the ten years of affiliation the Lugnuts have seen a number of notable future Blue Jays players: Casey Janssen (2005), Travis Snider (2007), Marc Rzepczynski (2008), Henderson Alvarez (2009), Drew Hutchison (2010-2011), Yan Gomes (2010), Kevin Pillar (2012), and the recent September callups Aaron Sanchez (who was part of the 2012 eponymous "Lansing Three" with Noah Syndergaard and Justin Nicolino), Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, and Kendall Graveman. In fact, Graveman started this season in Lansing.
The Lugnuts play in the Cooley Law School Stadium in downtown Lansing, just over five hours away from Toronto, and just over an hour away from the Detroit-Windsor border. If you are looking for a roadtrip to go on next summer, consider the July 4th weekend: the Blue Jays will be playing the Tigers in Detroit on July 3-5 and the Lugnuts will be home the from July 4-7. Lansing is just a short hop away and perhaps you can even catch a doubleheader if the game times work out.
One of my favourite parts about visiting Lansing--second only to the downtown peanut shop--is sitting in the beautiful stadium and having one of their many local brews and munching on a gigantic turkey leg. Of course, another thing to love about the Lugnuts is their voice, Jesse Goldberg-Strassler. Jesse is the one who hosts the weekly Around The Nest minor league podcast that appears here every Friday during the season (and I assume it will be back next year). Via email, he tells me that was quite happy with the announcement today.
"I love that the PDC was extended. The young talent that we’ve seen in Lansing is unquestioned, from Dalton Pompey to Daniel Norris to the Lansing three. There are even more phenoms on the way, headlined by Max Pentecost, Rowdy Tellez and Matt Smoral. But my favorite thing about an affiliation with the Blue Jays is their judgment of character; Toronto farmhands are even better people than they are players."
Don't forget, the Lugnuts are putting in apartment buildings as part of a major overhaul of their ballpark in the next few years, so if you are really into Blue Jays prospects, you might want to consider saving some money to get yourself a left field unit.