The New York Mets and the Savannah Sand Gnats today jointly announced they have renewed their Player Development Contract for two more years. The renewal will keep Savannah as a Mets’ affiliate through the 2014 season.
During the Mets affiliation, the Sand Gnats have enjoyed some of their most successful seasons in franchise history. The Sand Gnats were the South Atlantic League First Half Champions in back-to-back seasons (2010 and 2011). The 2012 team roster boasted a deep roster of starting pitching and position players, with three players representing Savannah at the South Atlantic League All-Star game in June.
In addition, former Sand Gnats have already made a splash in the major leagues. This season, Collin McHugh and Josh Edgin became the latest former Sand Gnats to make their major league debut for the Mets. Other notable former Sand Gnats to come from the Mets-Sand Gnats partnership include Josh Thole, Robert Carson and Jeurys Familia. Johan Santana also made a start for the Gnats during the 2011 playoffs: a game which boasted record-breaking attendance numbers for the post-season.
“We’re pleased to have the New York Mets back with us to continue our partnership and the development of future major leaguers here in Savannah,” said Sand Gnats President, John Katz. “The Mets have been fabulous partners over the past six years, both in providing strong teams and in helping make a positive impact in the Savannah community. We’re looking forward to two more years together.”
The agreement between the Sand Gnats and Mets goes a long way to make sure the fans of Savannah continue to see winning baseball in the next two years with a first-class organization. During the partnership with the Mets, the Sand Gnats have reached the South Atlantic League playoffs twice, including the 2011 team that came within one strike of winning of the South Atlantic League Championship.
Thanks in large part to community-involvement initiatives put in place by the Mets organization, the Sand Gnats have helped lead the way in giving back to the citizens of the Coastal Empire. This season alone, the Sand Gnats held two extremely successful jersey auction nights, benefitting the Wounded Warriors Project and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Coastal GA affiliate. Players and front office staff alike have visited children’s hospitals and participated in multiple community outreach programs.
“The Mets are pleased to extend our relationship with the Sand Gnats and the people of Savannah,” said Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson. “Savannah is a wonderful city, and our players, coaches and scouts enjoy their time there. Grayson Stadium continues to present issues from a player development standpoint, but we are familiar with what the Sand Gnats ownership has accomplished in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and have monitored their efforts to partner with the City to create a new outdoor multi-use venue in Savannah. We hope and believe those discussions are headed in the right direction.”
“The Sand Gnats are thrilled that the Mets have agreed to remain in Savannah for two more seasons,” said Jason Freier, CEO of Hardball Capital, owner of the Sand Gnats. “The Mets are one of the premier organizations in professional sports, and they have brought quality teams, great people and a community-oriented mindset to Savannah for the past six years. The Sand Gnats will continue to do everything possible to live up to our end of the bargain and provide a great environment for the Mets to develop their stars of tomorrow, and a fun, affordable family-friendly entertainment product for the people of Savannah and the Coastal Empire.”
The Savannah Sand Gnats Opening Night is Thursday, April 4th, against the Rome Braves, SAL affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.