The Dodgers played Triple-A baseball in Albuquerque from 1972-2000 — with Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, Orel Hershiser, Davey Lopes, Mike Marshall, Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, and Bill Russell all making stops — and the city hosted the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate from 1963-71.
“We’re very excited to be returning to Albuquerque,” player development director De Jon Watson said in a release. “Their top-notch facility will undoubtedly help us develop future Dodgers, and their fans have been following this franchise for many years.”
Albuquerque has built a new stadium, Isotopes Park, since the Dodgers were last affiliated with the city, and it is considered one of the finest facilities in Minor League Baseball. A franchise-record 593,606 fans visited the ballpark in 2008 to see the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate.
“It’s a lot more modern facility, clubhouses, weight room, amenities for us from a player-development standpoint,” Watson said in an interview with MLB.com. “It’s more of a unique ballpark that’s conducive to doing the things we need to do with our players from a development standpoint to get them ready to play up here.”
Albuquerque won eight Pacific Coast League championships as the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate and three Texas League titles while a Double-A affiliate of the Dodgers.
Watson added the Dodgers enjoyed their time in Las Vegas working with the 51s’ staff, but he looks forward to returning to the city Los Angeles Minor Leaguers called home for 38 years.
“It’s nice to be able to go back into the market,” Watson said. “I think we do have a strong fan base there. The fans in Albuquerque have some familiarity there and have had quite a few Major League players move on from that place. The fan base will be familiar with our brand of baseball and style of players.”
The Dodgers will also move their Double-A home to Chattanooga, Tenn., after an eight-year run with Jacksonville. The Lookouts, who play at AT&T Field, had previously been a part of the Reds’ organization.
“Our move to Chattanooga will continue to help bring all of our affiliates closer to home,” Watson said in a release. “We look forward to making an impact throughout the city as our Minor League players continue to hone their skills en route to the big leagues.”
The Dodgers signed two-year deals with both Albuquerque and Chattanooga.
The Dodgers’ final move also involves distance, switching their entry in the Gulf Coast League to the Arizona Rookie League. They will be called the “Arizona League Dodgers.”
Class A Advanced Inland Empire and Class A Great Lakes will remain Dodgers affiliates for a third straight season, and Rookie-level Class A Ogden will stay for a seventh consecutive year.
The Dodgers will also continue to field a Dominican Summer League team.
— Michael Schwartz