Pirates part ways with State College affiliate

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CHICAGO -- The State College Spikes, formerly the Pirates' short-season Class A affiliate, announced a two-year player development contract Monday with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Spikes, a member of the New York-Penn League, had been affiliated with the Pirates since 2007. State College was affiliated with the Cardinals in '06, its inaugural season. The Pirates' two-year player development contract with State College expired after this season.

Spikes chairman and managing partner Chuck Greenberg said Pirates assistant general manager Kyle Stark offered Spikes general manager Jason Dambach a four-year extension two weeks ago. The Spikes preferred a two-year extension and offered one to the Pirates last week, Greenberg said, but never heard a response.

Greenberg heard from the Cardinals, the defending World Series champions, early Sunday morning, the first time the Spikes could have discussions with teams other than their parent franchise.

"We had no choice but to act," Greenberg said. "[The Cardinals] are a model franchise, from ownership all the way through management rank."

Pirates president Frank Coonelly said the team's interest in an extension cooled in June, when Dambach spoke publicly about filing for free agency. The sides continued to talk until last Monday, at which point the Pirates decided to explore other options.

"We made a decision, it was in our best interests to file [for free agency] and see what opportunities were out there for us," Coonelly said. "The Pirates immensely enjoyed our affiliation with the State College Spikes and wish them well."

The Spikes finished 35-41 this season. Right-hander Luis Heredia, an 18-year-old international signee, served as the main attraction.

Coonelly said the Pirates have an agreement in place on a player development contract with another franchise and expect to announce it in the coming days. The options in the New York-Penn league are Batavia or Jamestown, both in New York.

The Spikes play at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Penn State's campus.

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