The Pacific Coast League began its 113th season Thursday, and Tacoma has had a team in the league 58 of those years, which includes a two-year stint from 1903-1904 and 1960 to the present.
Let us take a look at the top story lines for the 15 non-Tacoma teams in the league:
Albuquerque: The Isotopes are no longer a Dodgers affiliate, after Los Angeles made the startling decision to stock Oklahoma City with its players instead. The Isotopes quickly moved to secure an agreement with the Colorado Rockies. Top prospect: starting pitcher Jonathan Gray.
Colorado Springs: Deserted by the Rockies even though they are located just 70 miles from Denver, the Sky Sox were the last team standing in the affiliation shuffle resulting in an arranged marriage to the Milwaukee Brewers. It will be interesting to see if attendance takes a hit as a result. Top prospect: relief pitcher Corey Knebel.
El Paso: The Chihuahuas drew huge crowds throughout their inaugural 2014 season, and the San Diego Padres affiliate hopes to avoid a drop-off in its second year. Top prospect: catcher Austin Hedges.
Fresno: Now an affiliate of the Houston Astros, the Grizzlies lost their semilocal association with the San Francisco Giants but gained a potential winner on the field. Tony DeFrancesco is the dean of PCL managers, tying Rocky Bridges’ modern league record with his 12th consecutive season. Top prospect: first baseman Jon Singleton.
Iowa: Kris Bryant hit 43 home runs last year and led the Cactus League with nine homers this spring with Chicago, only to be sent to Triple-A by the Cubs due to service time considerations. He’ll be in the majors shortly, but shortstop Addison Russell and infielder Javier Baez should stick around in Iowa for a while. Top prospect: Bryant.
Las Vegas: Returning manager Wally Backman’s team is loaded with prospects: four of the top five New York Mets prospects are on his roster, including starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. Infielder Dilson Herrera and catcher Kevin Plawecki also bear watching. Top prospect: Syndergaard.
Memphis: The Redbirds don’t have to worry about affiliation changes because the St. Louis Cardinals bought the team last year, assuring a long association. The Cardinals teamed up with the city to make $6.5 million in improvements to 15-year-old Autozone Park. Top prospect: pitcher Marco Gonzales.
Nashville: Leaving the aging Greer Stadium behind in 2014 after 37 seasons, the Sounds linked up with the Oakland Athletics and will play in a new downtown stadium, First Tennessee Park, which opens this upcoming Friday. Top prospect: outfielder Billy Burns.
New Orleans: The Washington State Cougars are the only Pac-12 Conference school without a former player currently in the majors, but New Orleans left-hander Adam Conley — an Olympia High School graduate — will change that if he gets called up by the Marlins. Top prospect: pitcher Jose Urena.
Oklahoma City: The team embraced its new affiliation by changing its name from RedHawks to Dodgers. Former Mariners Freddy Garcia and David Aardsma are on the pitching staff. Top prospect: outfielder Scott Schebler.
Omaha: The Kansas City Royals’ affiliate is the team to beat in the PCL, having won back-to-back championships. The Storm Chasers have also won the American-North Division title four of the past five years. Top prospect: pitcher Christian Binford.
Reno: The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas to a six-year, $68.5 million contract and then optioned him to Reno, causing many to question the contract. Top prospect: Tomas.
Round Rock: The Texas Rangers’ top farm club had more roster turnover than usual in 2014, due to a litany of injuries at the major league level. This season is getting off to a similar start. Top prospect: pitcher Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez.
Sacramento: The team that started the affiliation shuffle, River Cats management gave Oakland the boot and welcomed the San Francisco Giants — satisfying the rabid Giants fan base in the Sacramento area. Will the River Cats continue their winning ways with a new affiliate? San Francisco hasn’t put its Triple-A team in the playoffs in 16 years. Top prospect: catcher Andrew Susac.
Salt Lake: The Bees received an early-season gift when the Angels optioned top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney to Triple A to open the season. Heaney delivered seven shutout innings on Friday night to beat Sacramento. Top prospect: Heaney.