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Tampa Bay Rays Drop Stone Crab Affiliation

In a surprising move the Tampa Bay Rays have announced they are shifting a minor-league affiliate from Port Charlotte to Charleston, S.C., as part of Major League Baseball’s reorganization and consolidation of the minor leagues.

The Rays announced this afternoon, the Charleston team will become the Rays’ Class A team, with their Bowling Green, Ky., affiliate moving up to advanced Class A status. The Rays will maintain their Triple-A affiliate in Durham, N.C., and Double-A affiliate in Montgomery, Ala.

The Rays say they will keep their spring-training base in Port Charlotte, as well as their Gulf Coast League team (for entry level minor-leaguers) and their extended spring training, instructional league and offseason training programs.

The four Tampa Bay area Florida State League teams are expected to return: the Bradenton Marauders (Pirates), Clearwater Threshers (Phillies), Dunedin Blue Jays and Tampa Tarpons (Yankees).

Rays General manager Erik Neander said “The Rays were very fortunate to have close, long-standing relationships at every level, and we appreciate the pivotal role all our affiliates play in helping our players develop on their journeys to the big leagues.”