While we recently learned that spring training and the MLB 2021 season are set to begin on time, the same cannot be said for the minors. MLB informed teams at the Double-A and Single-A levels that their seasons will be delayed, writes Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper. MLB wants to mitigate the number of overall bodies sharing space at spring training facilities. With that in mind, players at the Double-A and Single-A levels will wait until Major League players as well as those slated for Triple-A have departed their facilities. Presumably, that means Triple-A will aim for a more traditional start to their season.
Cooper provides additional information from the memo, writing, “Additionally, the memo told minor league teams to expect their schedules to run until as late as Oct. 3, a full month after regular season games normally end in early September. It is also expected there will be no minor league playoffs in 2021. With a delayed start, those playoff dates will be exchanged for more dates for all teams.”
After a year with no minor league baseball at all, this news comes not as a surprise, nor an inconvenience, but closer to, as Cooper describes it, a “relief.” Minor league teams do not have nearly the resources to stay socially distanced as players at the Major League level. Travel between cities will be a particular concern for teams as MLB puts together the minor league schedule. From MLB’s perspective, the slow roll-out is an opportunity to establish their new development system incrementally, which could ultimately provide a runway to make further changes to former norms.
With a new 120-team MLB-run minor league system kicking-off, this year will prioritize providing a space for competitive, developmental play for those players trying to make their way to the big leagues. Playoffs will, at some point, return to the minor league system, but for now, the focus is safely providing venues for minor league players to get back on the ball field without overtaxing the now-cohesive overall structure that encompasses both Major and minor league baseball leagues. The delays also gives more time for vaccines to be distributed, which in a best case scenario, could allow for fan attendance at minor league facilities sometime down the line.
Fly over fan
Do we officially know what Milb teams have been deleted?
Yes. Check out baseball America. They have the list and have been doing great work on their coverage of it
Yes – live Florida- I know the Port Charlotte team is gone (Rays)
But you still have Spring Training and a team in the GCL.
A lot of this makes sense, and actually had been talked about for years. Ending Milb seasons on Labor Day was always a pain for MLB teams who wanted development time; but minor league owners knew that with school, college football et al, attendance would be negligible. It’s all about attendance in the minors; No Central Fund money, no big TV deals, etc.
The restructuring will cost jobs (for the Rays, 60 of them with the elimination of Princeton and Hudson-Valley) , but it forces teams to be more efficient in their player development.
I’m honestly surprised. I thought they’d just cancel the minor league season again. It’s a good surprise, though. It would have really stunted development to have a second consecutive year of just drills and intra-squad games.
Canceling would hurt development and be felt in a couple of years. Best to see what happens. College kids are in the same boat.
I think they have to find a way to play some kind of a MiLB season. A two year layoff would be catastrophic
There’s still a minor league system ?
So what happens to those high-level prospects not on AAA but were to be invited to their teams respective MLB spring training camps? Does this bar them from attending?
Good question. Sounds like each team would have to make that call and assign them to their AAA affiliate if they want them in spring training with the big club.
i doubt it. they can probably invite whoever they want for the first round, just only a limited total amount. probably lower minors guys invited the 1st tome can just stick around for the 2nd round.
Wander Franco 1/1 on most boards as the best prospect in baseball still isn’t listed on the Rays AAA club… Tell me the Rays aren’t bringing him into camp!!
Immensely talented as Franco is, he still hasn’t played above A+. I’m guessing he breaks camp in AA, then gets promoted in a couple months to AAA, where he finishes the season. The Rays are generally patient in bringing along their prospects.
Non-roster invitees still attend mlb camp
Having playoffs is important as it teaches how to stand up to pressure situations. Sadly, it also represents some of the only times these minor leaguers play in front of a decent crowd before they reach the majors.
Damn Yanks fan, should come over and catch a Yard Goats game in Hartford, stands are always packed
did they ever get them a viable stadium there?
Yes, Dunkin Donuts park, already has won AA ballpark of the year twice
the greatest redemption arc
I have COVID-19. Pray for me
Feel better soon!
DM the GM
Methinks some exciting prospects will start the year at AAA, when they might have been ticketed for AA or maybe even single-A. Might be some demotions from the AAA roster about a month after the AAA season starts then…
Just say “I think” and stop trying to be cute. No one is amused.
It’s fair criticism
I am glad to see they are at least going to have a season. I felt a lot of young players were rushed to the majors last year with injuries and lack of options. So at least the minors getting in games should help get them more ready for “the show.” And…give all the teams a better idea of talent when the trades come around. Here’s to hoping baseball can have a normal and healthy season this year!
i kinda find the whole shortening of the Minor League season to be kinda lame to be honest. obviously it helps for this year, but I dont like it on general.
No one likes anything “on general”.
Well thought out decision. Gives the minors a chance at a full season and possibility of fans in the stands. Good move.
Attendance is likely to be very restricted until at least late summer, so I still wonder who’s bearing the operating costs. Is MLB paying the minor league owners for it? Because for the most part they haven’t bought out the minor league owners, merely taken over administration. Or perhaps the plan is simply to use this season to drain those owners of what’s left in their pockets in order to offer them token buyouts at the end of the year.
does that mean pirates season will be delayed ?
I still don’t understand why the Yankees moved their AA affiliate from Trenton to Somerville. Trenton was a great facility with great attendance & just 30 miles further away from NYC.
I hear you, Steve. It was a real slap in the face to the Thunder organization, but apparently Somerville is where the money is. I mean, I know that plenty of other minor league teams were unable to be saved, but I don’t think I can go watch the MLB Draft League that they replaced it with, which is a shame because it wasn’t their fault.
It’s good for MLB teams as service time won’t be an issue for their best prospects. Start them in AA or AAA and bring them up after a week. Since the MLB season will be starting earlier, no need to wait for 3-4 weeks anymore to gain an extra year of control over the player.
What???? Limit the number of bodies in spring training? So how are teams supposed to decide who is invited? On top of that, WHEN do the minor leaguers get THEIR spring training? These guys essentially haven’t played in 2 years and will need even more time to get ready. Here comes another huge batch of TJ surgeries and leg injuries.
Add to that, who oversees the minor ST? All the mlb coaches and AAA coaches will be gone. This just seems stupid. Again, either it’s safe or it’s not. Pick one.
they were all working out on thwir own last year. they shouldn’t need that much longer the normal.
Each minor league level has its own separate coaching staff. These coaches all work together during spring training.
What’s a little weird is that AA and AAA aren’t what they used to be incrementally. I’m not sure what that means at this point, but maybe some roster moving to get certain players there early and other players there later.. Makes sense to split things up, there’s still no clear end in sight for the pandemic.
Unrelated to this particular statement…. I hate what has become of the minor leagues. 🙁
I hear you, AgentF. My poor Trenton Thunder, once the AA team for the Yanks, are now a collegiate summer baseball team of the “MLB Draft League”. Very disheartening.
My Sacramento River Cats get to be the reigning AAA champions for a 3rd year. It’s like a dynasty with one championship.