Helena Brewers President & General Manager, Paul Fetz, was named Pioneer League Executive of the Year during the Fall Meetings in Missoula.
This past season was Fetz’s 27th in professional baseball and 13th as GM of the Helena Brewers. This was the second time Fetz has been named the Executive of the Year and will receive the award in Nashville at the Baseball Winter Meetings in early December.
“I am very proud of what our organization has been able to accomplish over the past year. Without my staff none of this would be possible. Their enthusiasm and dedication in making our fans enjoy their Helena ballpark experience has been the main driving force to our recent successes,” said Fetz. “I am also appreciative to the fans and Helena community who have continuously supported ‘Brewers Baseball’ over the years.”
The Brewers rebranded their image through a new mascot and increased community involvement through the Reading Program and participation in community events. As a result, regular season attendance increased almost 10% over 2014 despite air quality issues from smoke and some rainy weather. 2015 regular season attendance even outperformed the 2013 regular season which was a playoff year.
Fetz came to Helena when professional baseball returned to the city in 2003. In 2008, he was helpful in the negotiation of the current long term 20 year lease. In 2014, the club signed a 4 year Player Development Contract extension with the Milwaukee Brewers.
“Paul has been a contributing member of the Brewer family for years and a solid participant in the Helena community. His passion for the game shows up every day. He is well deserving for this award,” said Special Assistant to the GM/Director of Player Development for the Milwaukee Brewers, Reid Nichols.
While this is subject to some possible additions/changes if and when more 2015 draft picks sign, here is the preliminary roster for the short-season Rookie level affiliate Helena Brewers.
- Bubba Blau
- David Carver
- Marcos Diplan
- Milton Gomez
- Nate Griep
- Donnie Hissa
- Brock Hudgens
- J.B. Kole
- Cody Ponce (UPDATED: Ray Montgomery said Ponce will join Helena right away.)
- Chad Reeves
- Junior Rincon
- Jordan Yamamoto
- Kevin Martinez
- Milan Post
- Blake Allemand
- Luis Aviles
- Jose Cuas
- Steven Karkenny
- Jake Gatewood
- Edwin Maysonet*
- Carlos Belonis
- Omar Cotto
- Monte Harrison
- Troy Stokes
* – Player/Coach
I’m here this evening on a truncated timetable to chime in on the upcoming Affiliate Shuffle. And I’m not talking about the latest dance craze sweeping the internet.
(To be honest though, how much fun would a dance be called the “Affiliate Shuffle”? You could get front offices from around the different affiliated minor league franchises to participate. They could film videos. YouTube would go crazy. The best part? It only comes around every other year and last no longer than a couple of weeks. You wouldn’t have time to get sick it. You’d bob your head and stomp your feet. A little rhythmic clapping to go along with it. Yes, the “Affiliate Shuffle” would take the world by storm! Sell t-shirts. Sell lunchboxes! Sell VHS tapes teaching you the dance in the comfort and anonymity of your own home!)
You know what the least likely part of that entire digression is? That you wouldn’t have time to get sick of it. MLB is tremendous at a lot of things, and it’s ability to overplay a song is breathtaking.
But anyway, like I said earlier, I’m on a time crunch here.
That being the case, let’s lay out the facts:
- Player Development Contracts (“PDCs”) are agreed to in even-numbered totals of years. This is because when affiliates change, there is a ton of work that goes in. It would be wildly unfair to expect an affiliated organization to potentially overhaul so many parts of their organization on an annual basis.
- Affiliated organizations agree to these PDCs with Major League Baseball clubs. To put it plainly, these contracts result in the team where organizations send their minor league players to compete and develop.
- The Brewers have five organizations under such contracts during these two-year windows.
- At the conclusion of 2014, four of those PDCs (Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, rookie ball) were set to expire.
So that’s where we found ourselves with the 2014 season winding down. The only affiliate under a PDC after 2014 was set to be the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who currently are signed through 2016.
First, some good news came down the pipe as it was announced in August that the Brewers and their rookie ball affiliate in Helena were signing a four-year PDC extension. One down, three to go.
It had been widely assumed that the moving-to-Biloxi-Mississippi Huntsville Stars would stay with the Brewers. The Biloxi team even hired the outgoing Huntsville Stars’ general manager Buck Rogers, so continuity appeared to be a goal. As of the moment I hit publish, there has been no official announcement from either side that the relationship will continue. That being said, Baseball America was operating under the assumption that the PDC renewed automatically for two years. I spoke to someone who said that if the relationship is going to continue, he assumed it would be guaranteed for longer than just a two-year auto renewal. It remains to be seen how it ultimately shakes out.
In the same way as the Double-A affiliate, High-A Brevard County in Florida was shown on the same report from Baseball America to have been renewed for two years. There are some extenuating circumstances surrounding the Manatees, but it appears for now as though the PDC will be renewed there as well.
So if that accounts for three of the four expiring PDCs, we’re brought to the situation in Nashville.
The Nashville Sounds have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Brewers since 2005, which adds up to a cool decade in the Music City. The Brewers put up with an aging facility at the end of this most recent PDC extension. And when Nashville and the Sounds finally got together on a new facility at Sulphur Dell, it was hoped that the Brewers would be benefitting from enduring Greer Stadium. Instead, however, it appears that the Sounds want a new tenant beginning in 2015. That would be unfortunate timing for the Brewers what with the new facility, but then again the PDC almost wasn’t renewed following the 2012 season due to Greer Stadium and a bit of contentiousness.
The bottom line as things stands today is that the Brewers have some potential flux in their minor league system. Tuesday, September 16, 2014 is the first day that teams can officially announce new affiliations. There’s a bit of a potential carousel effect which could take place if rumors hold true.
Those rumors include the A’s leaving Sacramento and affiliating with Nashville (as already mentioned), the San Francisco Giants affiliating in Sacramento and leaving Fresno, and the Brewers possibly ending up affiliating with the Fresno Grizzlies who have been the Giants Triple-A affiliate since 1998. The franchise moved to Fresno in 1998 and was, ironically, a Brewers affiliate in their final season as the original incarnation of the Tucson Toros.
So, there’s much to be revealed beginning Tuesday. Hopefully the dust settles quickly and the Brewers will know where their top prospects will be playing ball for at least the next two years, be that in Fresno or some other option.
The short-season Rookie ball affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Helena Brewers, sent me an advanced copy of their tentative roster.
They admit that more names will be added before Opening Day (likely as additional signings from the 2014 draft are announced) but these are who they know.
CURTIS, Luke* – RHP
DEETER, Ryan – RHP
GHELFI, Drew – RHP
HIRSCH, Zach* – LHP
HISSA, Donnie* – RHP
LINEHAN, Tyler – LHP
MOORE, Brandon – RHP
ORTEGA, Jorge – RHP
ORTEGA, Luis – LHP
RINCON, Junior – RHP
THOMPSON, Chad – RHP
UHEN, Josh – RHP
WILLIAMS, Devin – RHP
WOODRUFF, Brandon* – RHP
AVILES, Luis – SS/3B
DeMUTH, Dustin* – 3B
MUNOZ, Gregory – SS/2B
NEUHAUS, Tucker – 3B/SS
SHARKEY, Alan – 1B
* denotes 2014 draft pick
The Milwaukee Brewers today announced a two-year player development contract extension with the rookie-level Helena Brewers of the Pioneer League through the 2014 season.
“We are excited to extend our player development contract with the Helena franchise”, said Reid Nichols, Brewers Special Assistant to the General Manager/Director of Player Development/Training Center. “The Helena front office, led by President/General Manager Paul Fetz, is professional and responsive, and the fans of Helena have given us great support.”
The Helena Brewers are located in Helena, Montana and have been a Brewers rookie affiliate since the 2003 season. Helena was also a Milwaukee farm team from 1985 through 2000.
“We are thrilled to continue our working relationship with the Milwaukee Brewers,” said Helena Brewers President/General Manager Paul Fetz. “This has been a partnership that has lasted a very long time, and in our business that is a strong sign that you have a positive, respectful and mutually beneficial relationship. As our parent club, Milwaukee has always strived to send us their best ambassadors and we appreciate it.”
Current Brewers players such as Ryan Braun, Mike Fiers, Mat Gamel, Taylor Green and Jonathan Lucroy began their professional baseball careers with the Helena Brewers. Helena won the Pioneer League title in 2010, the franchise’s first championship since 1996 (won back-to-back championships as a Brewers affiliate from 1995-96).
The Helena Brewers begin their 2012 season schedule on Monday, June 18 vs. the Great Falls Voyagers, the rookie affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. MT at Kindrick Legion Field.