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Toledo news, weather, traffic and sports | Toledo, Ohio, | wtol.com

Tigers invite Toledo Mud Hens to join Professional Development System

Toledo will remain at the top of the Tigers’ minor league system, followed by Erie SeaWolves, West Michigan Whitecaps and Lakeland Flying Tigers.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Leaders with the Detroit Tigers announced Wednesday that the Toledo Mud Hens have been invited to be part of the club’s player development system moving forward.

“The Toledo Mud Hens are pleased to be among the 120 Minor League Baseball teams that have been invited to receive a Professional Development License from Major League Baseball,” Toledo Mud Hens Executive Vice President and General Manager Erik Ibsen said.

“We value our long-standing relationship with the Detroit Tigers, and look forward to the return of baseball to Fifth Third Field and the Glass City as soon as possible.”

Toledo will remain at the top of the Tigers’ minor league system, followed by Erie SeaWolves (Double A), West Michigan Whitecaps (Advanced A), and Lakeland Flying Tigers (Single A).

“Player development has never been more important to our organization than it is today, and after a significant review process with each of the clubs and Major League Baseball, we’re excited to invite these affiliates to move forward as part of the Tigers family,” Detroit Tigers Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Al Avila said in a press release. “These clubs play a key role in our long-term plan for sustainable success, to ensure our players are in the best position for growth and development to become impactful contributors at the Major League level. I’d also like to thank the affiliate owners, executives, state and local government officials, and the overall community in each of these markets. Their passion for the game is one of our sport’s greatest assets and is something they should be very proud of.”

The Tigers will have four rookie-level teams in addition to the full-season affiliates listed above: two squads based at the TigerTown Complex in Lakeland, and another pair at the club’s Dominican Academy.

“All of us with the Tigers player development department know how fortunate we are to have such great partners at our affiliates, and look forward to continuing these relationships,” Detroit Tigers Vice President of Player Development Dave Littlefield said.

“Each of them stands out across Minor League Baseball for having quality baseball facilities and passionate fan bases, and we’re hopeful to continue having our players develop there for years to come. Moving the Whitecaps to be our Advanced A affiliate will improve our organization’s efficiency in significant ways, including having our High A and Double A affiliates closer to each other, while putting our Single A and Rookie League teams at the same world class complex in Lakeland.”

These invitations mark the first potential changes to Detroit’s full-season affiliate lineup since the 2001 season, when Erie joined the system replacing Jacksonville at the Double A level. Toledo, with a ballpark located just an hour from Comerica Park, has been the club’s Triple A affiliate since 1987; Lakeland has hosted at least part of a season at either the Advanced A or Single A level since 1967; and West Michigan has been Detroit’s Single A location since 1997.