It's funny how different reading and writing about the Mariners right now. The focus on organizational structure, player development, offseason wish list, etc. has all been put aside. Instead we're down to the last week+ of the most intense September of Mariner baseball since 2000's team had to win games 161 & 162 to clinch the Wild Card over the Indians.
So news about the Mariners ending their affiliation with High A affiliate the High Desert Mavericks is easy to miss. I almost did and I write for a Mariners blog. The Mavs have been with the Mariners since 2007. Starting in 2015 the Mariners High A team will play as the Bakersfield Blaze, formerly affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds.
While this kind of organizational reshuffling is usually hard to summon an opinion on this may be the rare instance where that has a tangible effect. High Desert has notoriously been one of the most hitter friendly ballparks in all the minor leagues. Whether the higher altitude, the strong desert winds or warm weather over the years High Desert has played something like Coors Field with Yankee Stadium's dimensions. The extreme environment has led to difficulty projecting prospects and in many cases the team having to keep their best pitching prospects out of High A altogether.
Bakersfield, while still an offensively favorable park does is far less extreme than High Desert. We can hope this allows the Mariners greater organizational flexibility with how they promote and develop prospects, particularly young arms. The agreement with Bakersfield is for two years.