San Diego Padres Returning to Tri-Cities — Not a Surprise
The Padres moving their Class A farm club to Tri-Cities will benefit players and fans. Besides, the two regions have an old baseball connection!
(Pictured is the old Sanders-Jacobs Field in Kennewick, home of the Padres 1970-72. The road to the right of stadium is Clearwater Ave.)
Following the 2014 Class A Northwest League season, the Tri-City Dust Devils were faced with the expiring player development contract with the Colorado Rockies. It had been one of the longest in professional baseball, since 2001, and a very successful partnership at that. Jeff Francis, Jeff Rutledge, Christian Bergman, and All-Star Charlie Blackmon all played here at GESA Stadium before heading to the bigs with the Rockies.
But the San Diego Padres jumped on the opportunity and signed a two-year deal to send their prospects to GESA Stadium.
The history of Padres baseball here goes back to the days of the old Northwest League, when the Tri-City Padres won a league title in 1971. The team was here from 1970-72. They were also the Walla Walla Padres from 1972-82.
They played at the old Sanders-Jacobs Field in Kennewick, which sat 5,000 fans, and was closed in 1974 and later torn down.
Besides their previous history in Eastern Washington, the Padres Class A team, the Eugene Emeralds, had been having to share the baseball facility with the University of Oregon. While it's a first-class stadium, team officials said they preferred playing on natural turf, as opposed to an artificial surface. The return to Tri-Cities also gives them warmer weather and more stadium-use flexibility. Player development contracts can only be signed two years at a time, but based upon previous history, it's probable the Padres will be in Pasco for some time.
For the fans, it will also likely mean they will get to see more of the Padres highly touted draft picks. According to Dust Devils Announcer Chris King, ever since the Rockies moved their rookie ball team from Casper, Wyoming, to Grand Junction, Colorado, a few years ago, many of their top draft picks went there instead of Pasco.
The switch to San Diego means more highly touted prospects are likely to start their careers here - meaning fans will probably get to see many of the players they watch on draft day on the MLB Network.
The move also sends the Chicago Cubs from Boise to Eugene, where they will become the new tenants. It's one of several moves the Cubs have recently made in their farm system. And finally, the Rockies will relocate to Boise, and will play next season as the Hawks.