[audio:http://www.torontoobserver.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Alexis_Vancouver-Canadians_podcast.mp3|titles=Alexis_Vancouver Canadians_podcast]Toronto Blue Jays have added to their farm, and they’ve kept their addition north of the border.
The Vancouver Canadians of the West Coast League will be the Jays short-season Class-A farm team through 2014, after signing a player development contract with the big league team on Friday.
This partnership will see some of Toronto’s top 2011 draft picks heading to Vancouver in June, and joins the only Canadian Minor League Baseball club with the country’s only Major League Baseball organization.
On Thursday, the Blue Jays ended their 10-season run with the Auburn Doubledays of the New York Penn League, making room for the new affiliation.
The Canadians chose not to sign a contract extension with the Oakland Athletics, with whom they have had an 11-year partnership.
Paul Beeston, the president and CEO of the Jays, wants to see more West Coast baseball coming to Ontario’s capital.
“It’s our idea to bring Vancouver baseball to Toronto,” Beeston told the Toronto Sun. “So that players that play here make it to the major leagues and play in the Rogers Centre.”
Canadians’ owner Jake Kerr, who bought the team in 2007, says he’s proud of the partnership that has formed.
“One of the goals we set out to achieve when we purchased this club was to ensure that baseball fans locally felt like the C’s were their team,” Kerr said on the Canadians website.
“I think this pairing with the Blue Jays will bring baseball fans closer together from coast-to-coast.”
The Jays organization already claims five players from British Columbia, including New Hampshire Fishercats utility man Adam Loewen, of Surrey, and the rehabbing pitcher Scott Richmond of North Vancouver.
Vancouver has been the only team in Canada recognized by minor league baseball since the Triple-A Vancouver Mounties of the Pacific Coast League. The Mounties were shared by the Montreal Expos and Seattle Pilots in 1969.
Toronto may also have to find a new team for their Triple-A affiliation. In 2010 the Jays had a contract with the 51s, but the agreement ended with Las Vegas when the minor league season came to an end.
The Blue Jays will have limited options because the only teams available to them are Las Vegas and Oklahoma City. The Houston Astros are the only other Major League team without a Triple-A affiliate.