Legends On Deck

Many Changes for the Minors, More Looming

The Minor Leagues have always been the same for decades. Obviously we have seen changes to team names and affiliations over the years, from names going from the Padres and using their mothership name to the Rocket City Trash Pandas just this year. But just in the last year, MiLB is changing for the worst and best, and just in the last few weeks we are starting to see these changes come into place.

So far four teams have made changes, the Yankees, Mets, Twins and most recently the Astros, but we got to start back at the beginning. In Fall of 2019 BC (Before Coronavirus), the MLB announced its plans to contract the minor leagues by removing 42 minor league teams. When the plan was announced their were already pros and cons to the plan. The pros: Well players would be payed more money and facilities would get better in each location. Now this may not apply to the Florida State League (due to every team playing in a Spring Training Ballpark) or some of the other MiLB teams, but for the most part some MiLB teams don’t have updated facilities, which will be a benefit for the players. The cons: Whelp, thousands of men and women will lose their jobs and dreams. Now why do I say it that way? The reason is because their will be less players in the farm system which allows less chances for players to make it into an organization and have shot to realize their dream, which would be making it to the Majors. The other side is if all 42 teams get cut, we may see hard-working men and women lose their jobs. Now MiLB teams that get cut could be picked up by another organization or transition into an Independent League, but 12 teams for example, in the Appalachian League, are completely cut which may have already lead to the demise of peoples jobs.

Now to 2020. In between fall 2019 and spring 2020 not a lot of talk was done about the future CBA with the MLB and MiLB, but a huge contributing factor came about, COVID-19. I remember the day that MLB announced that they would delay the season by two weeks (ended up being longer than that). I was sitting on my couch and was watching the Pirates Spring Training Game, thinking this very well might be the last game that’s live I watch all year. Obviously that would end up not being true as we had a 2020 60 game season, but I knew that if the delay lasted longer than two weeks and ended up being months, it could have lasting effects on the game of baseball. Then I thought about how Minor League Baseball may be affected and oh boy has it ever since March. One of the major signs that the minors were going to change was the release of handfuls of players and some teams not paying players after a certain point. This was one of the tell tale signs that we were not going to have MiLB season. Then the announcement by the MiLB in July that there will be no season was the Knockout punch. COVID, the release of players and the murky compensation to players sealed the fate for MiLB. At that point, there was only two options for the MLB to take, the first being allowing the MiLB to continue but multiple teams would most likely be defunct due to no season revenue or option two, which is the MLB puts its plan in place and starts doing its work, and that’s what we’ve so far. We have seen the Appy League turn into a Collegiate Wooden Bat League, Peter Freund joining the MiLB takeover team, the closing of the St. Pete MiLB HQs close and move to New York, were MLB Headquarters is located, and MLB affiliating its self with Indy Ball Leagues. Now to just in the past two 3 weeks the teams are moving. These are the changes so far:

> Yankees:
Triple A: Scranton Wilke Barre Railriders
Double A: Somerst Patriots (Coming from the Atlantic League)
High A: Hudson Valley Renegades (TB Rays Affilate since ’96)
Low A: Tampa Tarpons (Moved Down from High A, Entire FSL may as well)

Out: Trenton Thunder (Double A), Pulaski Yankees(Rookie)

> Mets:
Triple A: Syracuse Mets
Double A: Binghamton Rumble Ponies
High A: Brooklyn Cyclones (Moved up from Class A Short)
Low A: St. Lucie Mets (Moved Down from High A, League as Well as Mentioned Above)

Out: Columbia Fireflies (Low A), Kingsport Mets (Rookie)

> Twins:
Triple A:TBA (Rumored Replacements: Wichita Wind Surge, Fresno Grizzlies, St. Paul Saints(American Association)

Out: Rochester Red Wings (Triple A), Elizabethton Twins (Rookie)

> Astros:
Triple A: Sugar Land Skeeters (Coming from Atlantic League)

Out: Round Rock Express (Triple A)

That’s all the changes up this point. Obviously in the coming days and weeks we should see changes still but their is a lot of uncertainties such as, what changes will come the Minors from the MLB, when it come to the way things run? How will COVID affect next season, when it comes to attendance, if any is aloud? Will more teams stream their games on MiLB.TV if fans aren’t aloud? Will tickets prices change or will whose allowed in as Media change? Their still a lot of unanswered questions that may not be answered until the start of the season, but one thing is for certain, 2021 and the future of MiLB will never be the same again.

Dylan Spaulding
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