New Minor League Affiliate Map & Other Changes

From Chandler Rome on Twitter

Looking forward to seeing the Sugar Land Skeeters win the Eastern Division of the Triple-A West.

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So, have the old league names, like Pacific Coast League and Texas League gone to the wayside?

It appears that way.

These league/overall player development system names you see here (as covered in the story) are placeholders...Branding very, very likely to come. This is like a team with a new stadium not wanting to use a distinctive name until they sell naming rights.

— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) February 12, 2021

Here is the list of other changes:

Each MLB Club will provide Minor League players and staffs to their four affiliates – one at each of the Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Low-A levels. Minor League Clubs will receive PDL licenses from MLB that entitle them to operate in the Professional Development Leagues, ensuring a new set of standards in terms of facilities and player working conditions. The licenses will create many improvements to the experience and lifestyle of Minor League players, such as:

-Player salary increases ranging from 38-72% for the 2021 season.
-Modernized facility standards better suited for professional athletes.
-Improved amenities and working conditions for players and staff.
-Reduced in-season travel for players and coaches.
-Better geographical alignment.

Elaborating on the above:

The linked to article in that tweet raises lots more questions than answers but a few things mentioned:

  • Organizations cannot have more than 180 players under contract during the season and no more than 190 players under contract during the offseason
  • As has been noted before, the AAA season will kick off in April while the AA and A-ball season will start on May 4
  • No playoffs this season

The 180 player maximum is of course to cut down on headcount in order to pay for the salary raises. What that apparently means however is that teams will be limited to just one team in the GCL/AZL and just one team in the Dominican Summer League (6 teams and roughly 30 players per roster is the only way you can get to the that 180 player number).

As far as the DSL, I think that’s extremely short-sighted in limiting the opportunities for kids from the Dominican and other Latin American countries. I think what MLB needs to do is to subsidize the creation of a number of independent teams to play in the DSL where unsigned players from those countries can showcase their talents and subsequently be signed my MLB orgs if they show they’re good enough. MLB probably won’t consider it because of the cost and since cost is the sole driver of all this shit…

But what drives me more nuts is restricting an org to just one GCL/AZL club. You’ve just eliminated two layers of short season ball (when you should have just eliminated one). So now in a given year an org’s GCL/AZL club will have to absorb: (1) the 20-30 drafted players from that year (2) the players who will be returning to the GCL/AZL after having already played there but aren’t deemed ready to be sent to a full season team (3) players being promoted from your DSL team and (4) IFA signings who are advanced enough to bypass the DSL. The numbers just don’t work. What’ll happen is guys will end up being sent to full season ball when they’re not ready. Or players will simply get less development time. Neither is ideal.

Minor league schedules have been released. Some “highlights” per this BA article:

  • AAA season will start April 6 for the East League while the West League (includes Sugar Land of course) begins play on April 8

  • While reducing costs was the overwhelming factor in the reorganization, reducing travel was also a consideration. The ongoing pandemic has led to further minimized travel in 2021. For example, 6 teams in the northeast in the AAA East will only play each other. So 28/29 games against each of 5 opponents over the course of the 142-game season.

  • But that’s not even the worst of the “we’re sick of seeing these guys”. In the High A East, Rome and Bowling Green (which really aren’t all that close at a distance of 270 miles) will play each other a total of 36 times over their 120-game season!

  • Wait, wait, wait…there’s even something more extreme than that. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp will play the Charlotte Knights (distance 383 miles) 42 times! And the Norfolk Tides (distance 613 miles) also 42 times!! So an absurd 59% of Jacksonville’s schedule will be played against 2 teams!!!

  • Every league will have an off day on Mondays each week with the exception of the AAA West whose off day will be Wednesday.

MLB continues with their mucking around…

“I don’t know, man, I was going to watch baseball this evening, but the games are about 3 minutes too long, there are too many pickoffs, and all the defensive strategy confuses my drug-addled Gen Z brain lol”

Rob Manfred, you are the dumbest tinkerer in the history of American sport. Literally not one change you’ve made or proposed will bring in a single fan who wasn’t already here. And some of us from the Before Time are going to finally have enough of your stupid shit and leave. Probably right after the 3-point line you install next season.


I generally agree, but the pitch clock bit doesn’t bother me, and I am a bit intrigued by the proposal to require disengagement of the rubber for a pickoff as it would put an end to those lefty first base pickoffs where it’s really hard to determine if it is a balk.

Sure, or, you know, they could just call the goddamn rule as it is.

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I am pro-tinkering. The game isn’t what it used to be—even an inning of play from as recently as the 2014 playoffs demonstrates that. Go back further and it’s increasingly impossible to ignore. I’d rather it die trying to expand its appeal than fade away into an ever-smaller niche more and more under the control of Vegas and advertisers. If I could pick and choose I’d say that the defensive positioning stuff is bullshit, and they should really just enforce a pitch clock, but whatever.

I realize this is likely to be an unpopular viewpoint. I have been raised by a self-described “humorless baseball fundamentalist”, and counted myself among this tribe until very recently. But I honestly think it’s the game that has changed more than I have, and so in a funny way it has to intentionally reform to retain something of itself.

You are right; it is unpopular. Like other things I cannot control, I am not going to worry about what Manfred might do to my Game. As my friend Alkie said, when it gets too much for me to tolerate, I will leave.


Long overdue and kudos to the Astros…

Baseball America writer notes a possible ancillary benefit to the Astros…


Seems like a win-win: helping the players and making Houston more attractive at the same time.
Shouldn’t this be a no-brainer for the other clubs to follow suit?

While so much of this stuff seems like no-brainers that should have been done long ago (increasing the minor league pay scales, providing nutritious meals rather than forcing the minor leaguers themselves to pay dues to clubbies for cheap food, etc.), never underestimate the penny-pinching of certain ownerships unless they can see a clear cost/benefit ratio on this shit. Maybe this will become the industry standard but I suspect it won’t happen immediately.

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A’s president apologizes after photos of food being served to minor leaguers surface. (1 Jun 2021)

Some possible backtracking on that final item. Without providing details, MLB has advised minor league teams that they should “leave open dates in mid/late September”.