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TinCaps, Padres extend affiliation

New agreement will run through 2014

– The TinCaps are the only team in the Midwest League to make the playoffs each of the last four years.

The sustained success is part of the reason Fort Wayne and the San Diego Padres reached a two-year agreement Tuesday to extend their player development contract.

“In Randy Smith (San Diego director of player development and international scouting) and his staff, we have friends. We have partners,” Fort Wayne President Mike Nutter said. “Sometimes minor-league baseball can be just about the development, and of course it is about the development, but sometimes it’s just about development.

“We feel like with our partnership with the Padres, they want to win here in Fort Wayne, Ind. They know the importance of winning here to our fans and the last four years have showed that.”

The extension runs through the 2014 season. It will mark the 15th and 16th consecutive years that the two franchises have been affiliated with each other.

“It’s a phenomenal relationship,” Smith said during a phone interview Monday. “Fort Wayne is a great environment to develop our players. Mike Nutter and his guys do a great job. It’s been a fabulous relationship and one we’d like to see continue for a long time. It’s been a real good match.

“Fort Wayne has done a lot of great things for us, and I’d like to think we’ve provided some return for Fort Wayne and the TinCaps as well.”

Fort Wayne has qualified for the playoffs every season since 2009. The TinCaps have reached the Midwest League championship twice in the last four years. They won the league title in 2009 and lost to Wisconsin in the finals this year.

The Padres have sent 22 first-round or supplemental first-round picks to Fort Wayne since 1999. Recent first-round or supplemental first-round picks to play in Fort Wayne include Travis Jankowski (2012), Jace Peterson (2012), Donavan Tate (2011, 2012), Cory Spangenberg (2011), Jaff Decker (2009) and Cory Luebke (2007, 2008).

“Continuing our relationship with the TinCaps was a top priority for us,” San Diego Executive Vice President/General Manager Josh Byrnes said in a statement. “The winning tradition instilled at Parkview Field and with the city of Fort Wayne makes the environment an ideal place for our players to grow.”

Players that have come through Fort Wayne on the way to the majors since the affiliation with San Diego began include 2011 World Series MVP David Freese (2006), Chase Headley (2005), Mat Latos (2008, 2009), Jake Peavy (2000) and Will Venable (2006).

“It’s exciting for us,” Nutter said. “We’ve been together for a long time. We played so well on the field in our four years at Parkview Field.

“It couldn’t be better for what we ask for and what we look for in them.”