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Rockies, New Britain Rock Cats expected to begin Double-A affiliation

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The Rockies will have a Double-A affiliate in Connecticut for the second time in franchise history.

This IS the new Double-A affiliate of the Rockies.
This IS the new Double-A affiliate of the Rockies.
Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

UPDATE (3:16 p.m. MT): This one is now official, as well. From the Rock Cats' press release:

The Double-A New Britain Rock Cats Baseball Club (Eastern League) is pleased to announce that the club has reached an agreement on a Player Development Contract (PDC) with the Colorado Rockies for the next two years, encompassing the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

"We are pleased to have a new Major League partnership with the Colorado Rockies and that they will be part of the Rock Cats exciting future," remarked Rock Cats owner Josh Solomon. "The Rockies have the same values that are important to the Rock Cats in community service and have also done a great job in player development."

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And just like that, the Rockies have a Double-A team again.

Colorado is expected to begin an affiliation with the New Britain Rock Cats of the Eastern League that will last at least two years, according to Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant. That officially marks the end of the Rockies' 12-year partnership with the Tulsa Drillers, who are expected to announce a partnership with the Dodgers later on Wednesday.

The Rock Cats had been the Double-A affiliate of the Twins since 1995. Minnesota switched its affiliation to Chattanooga, which was vacated by the Dodgers and was almost the landing spot for the Rockies, of the Southern League.

This marks the second time the Rockies have had a Double-A team in Connecticut. From 1994 through 1998, Colorado was affiliated with the New Haven Ravens, who have since become the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Todd Helton was the most notable Rockies farmhand to hone his craft in New Haven.

The affiliation change is the Rockies' second this offseason. Late Tuesday night, word got out that Colorado's Triple-A operation was moving from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque. Prior to this year, the last time the Rockies changed an affiliate was after the 2004 season, when the High-A club switched from Visalia to Modesto. That, of course, does not include the Rockies' purchase and subsequent move of the club's rookie-level Pioneer League affiliate from Casper to Grand Junction.

The Rockies still have one affiliation up in the air. Their player development contract with the Tri-City Dust Devils, a Short Season-A affiliate of Colorado's since the franchise's inception in 1992, has expired.