The Twins are moving their Triple-A club about 1000 miles closer to home, as La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that they’ll soon announce the St. Paul Saints as their new top affiliate. The Saints had been a member of the independent American Association since 2005 and the now-defunct independent Northern League for 13 years prior to that.
It’s a huge boost for the Twins, who for the past 18 seasons have housed their Triple-A club with upstate New York’s Rochester Red Wings. (The Red Wings have already announced a new partnership with the Nationals.) Rather than a cross country flight to send a player on a minor league rehab assignment or to call up a fresh arm, the Twins will now be looking at a mere 11-mile drive from Minneapolis’ Target Field to St. Paul’s CHS Field. Their Triple-A club will benefit from modern facilities as well, given that CHS Field opened just over five years ago, in May 2015.
In addition to a vastly more convenient home for their Triple-A club, the Twins will also have a new Double-A home. Taylor Eldridge of the Wichita Eagle reported yesterday that the Wichita Wind Surge will no longer be the Triple-A affiliate for the Marlins and will instead drop down to the Double-A Texas League, serving as the Twins’ new affiliate. The Twins’ Double-A affiliate had previously been the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
The move is sure to be a point of frustration for many in the city, as Eldridge details. The Wind Surge had yet to play a game in the newly constructed Riverfront Stadium, which had been built as part of a bid to bring Triple-A baseball back to Wichita for the first time in four decades.
Wow! Congrats. That will be huge being that close to the big leagues.
This is huge!! A move was MUCH needed.
I was wondering if this was going to happen. Big move for the Saints and a GREAT move by the Twins.
Cubs should move AAA to Kane County.
White Sox AAA to Schaumburg.
Brewers AAA to Beloit or Appleton.
Start season May 1.
Makes too much sense.
Are these all AAA-level facilities?
They are not. I think location is the only reason keysox is suggesting them.
I should have said AAA-*quality* facilities. I know they have been Single-A or independent-league teams, so I question whether they have the seating capacities, training facilities, etc. that are expected of a Triple-A stadium.
A good point. This was a unique opportunity for the Twins because the Saints have a really great ballpark that opened a few years ago, and is definitely good enough to house a AAA team. As for those other cities, not sure if the same is true.
I figured you meant quality. I’m not sure what upgrades the White Sox made to Schaumburg since using it as their alternate site but the facilities were not AAA-level before that. The team had plans to do some remodeling a few years ago but not sure where that stands now. Haven’t heard good things about Beloit’s facilities but I’ve never been there.
The White Sox love having 3 affiliates located 90 minutes apart (Charlotte – AAA, Kannapolis – Low A, Winston-Salem – High A), and Birmingham – AA is just a 6 hour drive from Charlotte.
That is horrible for baseball. Minor leagues should be playing in mid to large size cities that don’t have mlb teams, not just conveniently close to the major league team
Why is this “horrible for baseball”? It’s not like Rochester or any of the other teams will cease to exist. They are just changing their affiliations. In the end, whether or not a minor league team exists to benefit the big league clubs first and foremost. You can’t deny that logistically, this is great for the Twins
“It’s not like Rochester or any of the other teams will cease to exist.”
Actually, yes, roughly 40 minor league teams are on the chopping block.
I agree minor league teams exist to benefit the big league clubs, but they also exist to grow baseball’s fan base. If fans get interested in the game and that translates into more viewership of MLB games, it’s a win-win.
I wonder at what point having an affiliate so close cannibalizes ticket sales between the two teams. If the Triple-A team is only 11 miles from the major league squad, I imagine some fans would prefer to pay the lower prices of a minor league game instead of going to the big-league game. And vice versa, I wonder how many Saints fans will forego a game in St. Paul to see the major league team.
A similar situation exists in Atlanta with the Braves and their Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett County.
Of course, this assumes minor league games will take place next season, but it’s been the situation in Atlanta for a few years.
Both teams have co-existed for a long time already. This won’t hurt ticket sales for either club. If anything it will be a good boost for St. Paul. But either way we’re talking MLB and MiLB teams. Would be different is they put a MLB team in St Paul. Nothing to worry about in this case.
Plus I’ll add that the Twins’ draw is from a 5 state area not just the TC Metro. Going to a Twins game is a huge deal for fans outside the metro area.
For those of us living in Central Canada; Minneapolis is only an 8 hour drive to see MLB live and worth it for me at least. I have seen many games with the Twins and Yankees over the years, so despite blackouts for Blue Jays games which are more than 2 days drive to see live, I much prefer the trip south and once this covid crap is a memory I hope to once again attend.
I think the primary purpose of AAA is to serve as an overflow for the MLB club.
When someone on the MLB club goes to the injured list or is just ineffective, the MLB club will typically draw from their AAA affiliate. Having that affiliate as close as possible makes sense because you can shuttle players faster.
I’m not saying that there’s no development that goes on in AAA – but for the most part, AAA is filled with players that couldn’t quite make it in the majors. Sure, there may be a few “prospects” in AAA – but they’re mostly just biding their time for an MLB call up. If a prospect is good enough, they usually run a full season at AA then maybe a few months in AAA (probably more for service time manipulation than anything) before going to the majors.
It won’t. I live in Minneapolis; both Saints and Twins games are pretty popular, Saints games especially so because of their affordability relative to the Twins. I’d expect being able to now follow the Twins’ minor leaguers through St. Paul to the big club in Minneapolis will only make both teams more popular.
Or, maybe the fans that didn’t go to that many Twins mlb games cause it’s too expensive now go to some AAA games to quench their thirst
Brilliant moves by the Twins. Both AAA and AA will be playing in very nice facilities. St Paul is a no brainer for sure.
Terrific move by the Twins (can’t believe I am saying that). I guess the question is whether the St Paul Saints will be in the PCL or the IL, or is all of that going to change with MiLB realignment. I hate these piecemeal announcements. Can’t MLB since it is running everything just make one announcement on this?
I’m on pins and needles waiting for the league announcement too! As a Twins fan living in Austin I sure hope they are part of the PCL and play Round Rock a few times a year.
The cubs aren’t moving from Des Moines
Well that’s just logical. Why weren’t they there before? All teams’ minor league affiliates be in the general area of the big club for quick access and easy scouting. Not to mention that a team’s minor league affiliates create more of a fanbase as fans can watch the future close to home. Phils’ AA and AAA teams are within a 90 minute drive from the big club. Lower classes are fine in other areas if it’s for weather reasons or complex training facilities.
This is perfect, the Saints already had a good fan base pre-COVID and I think seeing some big league players and top prospects will make it even more fun to go to Saints games.
hmm, go figure. i really thought Indy ball was St. Paul’s brand
I’ve been to maybe 20 Saints games and love them. I went to a Cedar Rapids game last year and it felt a lot like a Saints game (without their charm/humor/brand) than a Twins game. I’m sure the result will be somewhere in the middle of the Saints and Cedar Rapids and I’m totally okay with that.
Let me guess: the ballpark in Wichita was built with public funds?
Definitely a slap in the face for Wichita
There seems to be a lot of this going on across MiLB due to their contraction and re-alignment. My question is, what happens to the Independent League players who were previously on this team? Do they get relocated elsewhere or are they just out of jobs for now until they catch on with another team? Also, most MLB franchises own their AAA affiliate (but not the lower level teams). So does this mean the Twins are ‘buying’ this team or does the previous owner get to keep the franchise? Inquiring minds want to know.
It really does make sense to move these minor league teams closer to the major league parks. I remember when the Portland Seadogs (Maine) was the AA team for the Marlins. That never made sense to me. The Red Sox wisely took them over about 20 years ago.
A few MLB teams own all or a piece of their AAA or AA teams. Nowhere near most
I forgot to answer your part with the indy league players. All indy players sign 1 yr contracts. They may have options. The American association will add another team to even things out for schedule making purposes. Itll probably be a team left out of this reorganization. Plus with the Pioneer league becoming an indy league now… there should be quite a few new indy league jobs available
I care far less about those Indy league players as I do the markets that are being stripped of their affiliated clubs. This is NOT good for baseball
Rochester NY resident here. This article inplies the facilities in Rochester aren’t modern, Frontier Field is just over 20 years old. I also wouldn’t call a 3 1/2 hour direct flight “Cross Country.” Will hardly miss the Twins, the AAA club has been well below average with them as the parent club.
20 years is ancient in stadiums
So MLB teams play in prehistoric stadiums?
Frontier Field is fine. The night before Memorial Day a couple years ago I bought a ticket for the next game. Only $10 and since I was a single, my seat was in the second row behind home plate, though the game appeared to be a sellout. $1 Zweigles, too.
Then after the game a short walk over the pedestrian bridge past High Falls towards the Genesee brewpub. A good day.
Was at Frontier Field a few years back on a weekend trip hitting Rochester followed by Cooperstown, Syracuse and Buffalo. Frontier Field is nice. Plus it has a Tim Hortons Cafe and Bake Shop to make this Canadian feel right at home.
A bonus that I like for the players sake… if you’re a AAA player and you get hurt… You now have access to the MLB training staff.
Twins need to have their AA in Sioux Falls, SD. 50 minute flight from Minneapolis. Attendance would be huge. A Lot of Twins fans in the area.
I am incredibly shocked by the praise of this move. I am a FIRM believer that AAA should be serving the Fresnos, Norfolks, Austins, etc of the world that are pretty big cities but hours away from a major league team. Having AAA 5 miles away from the affiliated major league club VASTLY shrinks baseballs reach. You don’t have a legit team in those cities, you have far fewer baseball fans in those cities.
They are trying to cut down on travel. Neither the MLB teams or the players want things super spread out. This is the reason Fresno is losing their team. Not a single MLB team is willing to put their AAA team there and only Colorado is even willing to put an A ball team there despite the nice stadium
Yeah, i understand the “why”. I just think it’s incredibly shortsighted and the “pro” of less travel is outweighed by the “con” of losing mid-major markets
The real pro is a much better way of life for minor leaguers. More money less travel better facilities
I’ve been to two or three Saints games in my life. They were okay, but now I’ll be going to many each year when attendance is back.
Saints games have been selling out for 25+ years – even when it was low AA independent ball and they played at crappy Midway Stadium. Now they are in a beautiful park. The Twins sell really well too when winning. It’ll be fun to get over to St Paul to see the next crop when the Twins are on the road.
Riverfront Stadium in Wichita looks gorgeous. Hope they have success with a AA team.
Riverfront Stadium cost $75 million to create!!! I love new stadiums but geez that’s a lot for a 10,000 fan stadium.
Meh, Wichita is a AA city anyway. At best.
MLB sold Wichita a Bill of Goods. Triple A construction is more than Double A stadium construction. So now who is going to pay the City of Wichita the cost difference. MLB? Probably not Expect this to go to court for a resolution. Go Luck winning this court case MLB.