Minor League Team Contraction, Good Idea? Houston the Source?

Paul Newberry writes the following to cut leagues to four and close ill-attended franchises and reduce travel time. System worked for decades, but allegedly, the Florida training complex is an alternative. Newberry inserts some Astros’ snark for good measure.

This is a beginning negotiation tactic. There is no way their anti trust protection last if they pull teams from too many congressional districts.

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This is getting petty and silly.

Imagine being a worse commissioner than FYB.

MLB officially folded the minor leagues into their operations yesterday. Minor league teams are now “licensed affiliates” the MiLB HQ is getting moved to New York.

It’s not clear what that means for the minor leagues as a practical matter. MLB says that it intends to use this control to modernize player development and to “build a more comprehensive, efficient, and lucrative development pipeline.” I get a little nervous when an entity with antitrust immunity starts rolling up smaller entities in an effort to be “more lucrative.” Somebody’s gonna get the shaft and it won’t be the owners.

Appy league will now be a college wood bat league with MLB & USA Baseball partnering to make it happen. This is a very good outcome for the Appy League.

The Appalachian League will become a part of the Prospect Development Pipeline (“PDP”), the collaborative effort between MLB and USA Baseball that establishes a player development pathway for amateur baseball players in the United States, and will be an integral part of the identification and development process for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and other future national teams. Appalachian League participants will receive extensive visibility to MLB Club scouts through both in-person observation and state-of-the-art scouting technology. Players will receive instruction from former MLB players and educational programming designed to prepare them for careers as professional athletes. Plans include a 54-game regular season and an annual All-Star Game. MLB and USA Baseball will provide support for the league’s staffing, player participation and administrative functions. The parties are in communication with the NCAA to ensure athlete eligibility requirements are met.

If you’re happy I guess I’m happy. What was the alternative, its complete demise?

So this is basically an analog to the Cape Cod League?

I don’t live there anymore, here I why I see it as a good outcome.

Yes - the alternative was for communities who have been involved in baseball for almost 100 years having nothing. Here are the reasons I think it actually may be better for these communities.

Having college players that the folks in the stands can watch on ESPN, SEC network, ACC Network, etc…

Of the player in the APPY league, a good year mean 4 -6 players from a team would make it to the majors off a team. In this league it is more likely that at least double the number might make it.

A team full of college players is better for local economy than a team that is half made of international kids who are sending half they pay home to care for their family. Family & significant others will come visit which will help the economy.

The league is similar to the Cape Cod but for Freshman and Sophomores only and the fact that USA baseball will help fill the teams and help with the staffing of coaches. Plus the fact that MLB is actively involved.

I thought the bit about them utilizing all the modern trackman technology was very interesting from a scouting/draft perspective.

A few details were reported last week about what the restructuring will look like at the levels above short season ball and a couple of clubs (Yankees and Mets) have even announced this week who their new minor league affiliates will be. I’ve made some educated guesses to try and fill in the gaps on the pieces that have not been reported. And I’ve even tried to guess which teams will lose their affiliations and end up either bankrupt or joining an indy league.

Some notes:

(1) There has been talk of a third AAA league (like when the old American Association used to exist alongside the IL and PCL). So rather than 20 teams in the International League some of those could be in such a new league.
(2) Details were scant regarding the new structure of the High A leagues. So if I made mistakes (and there will be) most will be in regard to those leagues and the teams therein.
(3) I identified 13 clubs above that will be contracted. That’s in addition to the 10 Appy League teams, the 8 Pioneer League teams and 12 (of 14) of the New York-Penn League teams. That’s a total of 43 teams losing affiliation.
(4) Sugar Land, St. Paul and Somerset all escape indy league purgatory and will become affiliated teams.
(5) Due to territorial restrictions, etc. it’s impossible to believe anyone other than the Astros will affiliate with the Skeeters.
(6) Which of course then means Round Rock will again be up for grabs. Which means the friggin’ Rangers again establish a presence in central Texas. Fuck.
(7) As far as any other changes for the Astros, an article I read last week led me to the conclusion that they won’t be back in Quad Cities next year. I’m guessing an affiliation with a team in the South Atlantic League is the likeliest possibility.

The Astros agreement with Round Rock is through 2022. Have you seen anything about teams being let out of agreements with the restructuring?

You also have the teams that were in Fresno, San Antonio, and Wichita that need affiliates - Nats, Brewers, & Marlins.

Lots of moving parts to consider.

One error - you have Lexington being lost from the Midwest League. I think they were contracted from the South Atlantic League.

  1. I’ve assumed that there will be either (a) a transitional period in 2021-2022 while those PDCs expire or (b) they get renegotiated away to allow for a quicker implementation. In either case, what i’ve assumed above is what the ultimate landscape would look like.

  2. Obviously contracting teams and saving money is the main driver for MLB but certainly geographical proximity to the parent team is also a factor in how the realignment occurs. For example, that’s why apparently the Northwest League is going to be cut back to 6 teams and become a High A league in order to allow for each of the 6 west coast teams to have an affiliate there. However, things like size of markets and age of stadiums and attendance levels aren’t gonna be ignored either. So while I don’t know for example who the Missions will necessarily be affiliated with post-restructuring, it doesn’t change the fact that San Antonio will still have an affiliated team in the future.

  3. There was a slight typing error on my part. Under Midwest League, it should have read “Loses: Bowling Green, Dayton (moves to South Atlantic League)”. Which of course then corresponds to the part under South Atlantic League which already read: “Adds: Bowling Green, Dayton (from Midwest League)”.

Would make sense for them to hook up with the Skeeters. That would be fun, their stadium is a lot closer to me than MM.

Losing RR to Sugarland and having the stRangers reappear would put the nail in the coffin for me. MLB already mostly lost me with the $$$ bickering this summer, and MiLB may lose me with these moves. Hook ‘me.

Hook ‘em. #autocorrupt.

They’ve always bickered about $$$, and they always will. That’s what it’s all about.

But they (almost) always played the game while bickering.

Too many fucking threads about this but yes the news on the Skeeters quickly followed by confirmation on a Rangers move back to RR…

I’ll baselessly speculate that some small part of the affiliate carousel is because Nolan is still salty that Reid got demoted in favor of Crane’s heir.

The other thing you’ll notice is that the Astros have been outright buying their minor league affiliates as part of a long-term (Crane/Luhnow) plan to have more control over their minor league system. They bought the Hooks from Ryan-Sanders baseball back in 2013. They bought the Fayetteville club in 2016 at least partly to get out of the pitcher hellscape that was the California League. Now the news reports I’m seeing say that the Astros will have at least some ownership stake in the Skeeters. From the tone out of Round Rock, it doesn’t sound like Crane even made Ryan-Sanders an offer to buy out the Express.