Update on 2021 Minor League Baseball – Revision 1

Based on some comments I received and the Yankees press release, I’m going to make some updates to the list.  This is all speculation, so I might as well come up with some new scenarios.

In the Yankees press release where they announced that they were adding Somerset as their AA affiliate and Hudson Valley as their High A affiliate, it said that Trenton would be offered Somerset’s membership in the Atlantic League.  So I will remove Trenton from my list and assume that Erie will remain.  Other interesting items in the release mention that Staten Island could be joining the Atlantic League, and there is no mention of Pulaski, who appear to be sticking with the Appalachian League’s transition to a college wood bat league.  It now appears that the MLB agreements with some of the independent leagues means that they are going to find it easier to switch teams between the affiliated and independent leagues.

I’ll assume that Jersey Shore remains a Phillies affiliate, which means they would need to move to the High A Mid-Atlantic League since the Phillies Low A affiliate will be Clearwater.  To balance things out, I’ll move the Wilmington Blue Rocks to the South Atlantic League where they can remain a Royals affiliate.  This also assumes that the Tri-City ValleyCats are staying with an affiliated league, and if so, would make sense as the Mets affiliate.

I’ll also assume that the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers remain a Brewers affiliate, which I didn’t do previously because the Carolina Mudcats are owned by the Brewers, so the only way to make that work is to move the Mudcats to the South Atlantic League.  As an offset, I returned the Lynchburg Hillcats to the Carolina League, but they wouldn’t remain an Indians affiliate as the Indians High A affiliate would be Lake County.

I also left the South Atlantic League TBDs since right now it would be a wild guess to place the Astros, Cubs, Indians, Nationals and Reds, as none of them were previously with the open teams (unless maybe if I go back a ways I could find some connection).

So let me know what you think of the latest version.  I’ll keep making updates when new information is available.

I was also thinking about my rules to visit each team and I previously decided that if a teams changes levels that it was a part of a different franchise and wouldn’t count if I saw the previous instance.  But with all this movement, I’m thinking that if a team stays in the same level or league, that it would be considered the same.  I don’t think that I would need to revisit every team that was part of a league that was reclassified.  Or maybe it would just be more fun to start over and try to see them all again!

This is my best attempt at piecing together the leaked information with some attempt at logic and keeping as much in place from 2019 as reasonable.  Red denotes changes.  Blue denotes ownership stake.  Question marks are things I made up.

So according to this Minor League Baseball would look something like this:

International League (AAA)
Buffalo Bisons – Blue Jays
Charlotte Knights – White Sox
Columbus Clippers – Indians
Durham Bulls – Rays
Gwinnett Stripers – Braves
Indianapolis Indians – Pirates
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp – Marlins
Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Phillies
Louisville Bats – Reds
Norfolk Tides – Orioles
Worcester Red Sox (2019 Pawtucket Red Sox) – Red Sox
Rochester Red Wings – Twins Nationals?
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders – Yankees
Syracuse Mets – Mets
Toledo Mud Hens – Tigers

Pacific Coast League (AAA)
Albuquerque Isotopes – Rockies
El Paso Chihuahuas – Padres
Fresno Grizzlies – NationalsMove to California League (Low A)
Iowa Cubs – Cubs
Las Vegas Aviators – A’s
Memphis Redbirds – Cardinals
Nashville Sounds – Rangers
Oklahoma City Dodgers – Dodgers
Omaha Storm Chasers – Royals
Reno Aces – Diamondbacks
Round Rock Express – Astros Brewers?
Sacramento River Cats – Giants
Salt Lake Bees – Angels
San Antonio Missions – Brewers – Move to Texas League (AA)
St. Paul Saints – Twins
Sugar Land Skeeters – Astros
Tacoma Rainiers – Mariners
Wichita Wind Surge (2019 New Orleans Baby Cakes) – Marlins – Move to Texas League (AA)

Eastern League (AA)
Akron RubberDucks – Indians
Altoona Curve – Pirates
Binghamton Rumble Ponies – Mets
Bowie Baysox – Orioles
Brooklyn Cyclones – Mets
Erie SeaWolves – Tigers
Harrisburg Senators – Nationals
Hartford Yard Goats – Rockies
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Blue Jays
Portland Sea Dogs – Red Sox
Reading Fightin Phils – Phillies
Richmond Flying Squirrels – Giants
Somerset Patriots – Yankees
Trenton Thunder – Yankees

Southern League (AA)
Biloxi Shuckers – Brewers
Birmingham Barons – White Sox
Bowling Green Hot Rods? – Reds?
Chattanooga Lookouts – Reds
Jackson Generals – Diamondbacks
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp – Marlins (Move to International League – AAA)
Mississippi Braves – Braves
Montgomery Biscuits – Rays
Pensacola Blue Wahoos – Twins Marlins
Rocket City Trash Pandas (2019 Mobile BayBears) – Angels
Tennessee Smokies – Cubs

Texas League (AA)
Amarillo Sod Poodles – Padres
Arkansas Travelers – Mariners
Corpus Christi Hooks – Astros
Frisco RoughRiders – Rangers
Midland RockHounds – A’s
Northwest Arkansas Naturals – Royals
San Antonio Missions – Diamondbacks?
Springfield Cardinals – Cardinals
Tulsa Drillers – Dodgers
Wichita Wind Surge – Twins?

California League (High A) (Low A)
Fresno Grizzlies – Rockies?
Lake Elsinore Storm – Padres
Lancaster JetHawks – Rockies
Modesto Nuts – Mariners
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes – Dodgers
San Bernardino Inland Empire 66ers – Angels
San Jose Giants – Giants
Stockton Ports – A’s
Visalia Rawhide – Diamondbacks

Carolina League (High A)
Carolina Mudcats – Brewers Move to South Atlantic League?
Down East Wood Ducks – Rangers
Fayetteville Woodpeckers – Astros
Frederick Keys – Orioles
Lynchburg Hillcats – Indians Marlins?
Myrtle Beach Pelicans – Cubs Braves?
Salem Red Sox – Red Sox
Winston-Salem Dash – White Sox

Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Aberdeen IronBirds – Orioles
Fredericksburg Nationals (2019 Potomac Nationals) – Nationals
Hudson Valley Renegades – Yankees
Jersey Shore BlueClaws – Phillies?
Tri-City ValleyCats – Mets?
West Virginia Black Bears – Pirates

Wilmington Blue Rocks – Royals Move to South Atlantic League?

Florida State League (High A) (Low A)
Bradenton Marauders – Pirates
Charlotte Stone Crabs – Rays
Clearwater Threshers – Phillies
Daytona Tortugas- Reds
Dunedin Blue Jays – Blue Jays
Florida Fire Frogs – Braves
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels – Twins
Jupiter Hammerheads – Marlins
Lakeland Flying Tigers – Tigers
Palm Beach Cardinals – Cardinals
St. Lucie Mets – Mets
Tampa Tarpons – Yankees

Midwest League (Low A) (High A)
Beloit Snappers – A’s Rays?
Bowling Green Hot Rods – RaysMove to Southern League (AA)?
Burlington Bees – Angels
Cedar Rapids Kernels – Twins
Clinton Lumber Kings – Marlins
Dayton Dragons – Reds
Fort Wayne TinCaps – Padres
Great Lakes Loons – Dodgers
Kane County Cougars – Diamondbacks Royals?
Lake County Captains – Indians
Lansing Lugnuts – Blue Jays
Peoria Chiefs – Cardinals
Quad Cities River Bandits – Astros
South Bend Cubs – Cubs
West Michigan Whitecaps – Tigers
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers – Brewers

South Atlantic League (Low A)
Asheville Tourists – Rockies TBD
Augusta GreenJackets – Giants TBD
Carolina Mudcats – Brewers
Charleston Riverdogs – Yankees TBD
Columbia Fireflies – Mets TBD
Delmarva Shorebirds – Orioles
Greensboro Grasshoppers – Pirates TBD
Greenville Drive – Red Sox
Hagerstown Suns – Nationals
Hickory Crawdads – Rangers
Jersey Shore BlueClaws – Phillies Move to High A Mid-Atlantic League?
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers – White Sox
Lexington Legends – Royals
Rome Braves – Braves
West Virginia Power – Mariners
Wilmington Blue Rocks – Royals

NY-Penn League (A – Short Season)
Aberdeen IronBirds – Move to Class A
Auburn Doubledays
Batavia Muckdogs
Brooklyn Cyclones – Move to Eastern League (AA)
Hudson Valley Renegades – Move to Class A
Lowell Spinners
Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Norwich Sea Unicorns
State College Spikes

Staten Island Yankees
Tri-City ValleyCats – Move to Class A
Vermont Lake Monsters
West Virginia Black Bears – Move to Class A
Williamsport Crosscutters

Northwest League (A – Short Season) (High A)
Boise Hawks – Rockies
Eugene Emeralds – Cubs Giants?
Everett AquaSox – Mariners
Hillsboro Hops – Diamondbacks
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes – Giants
Spokane Indians – Rangers Angels?
Tri-City Dust Devils – Padres
Vancouver Canadians – Blue Jays A’s?

Appalachian League (Rookie – Short Season)
Bluefield Blue Jays
Bristol Pirates
Burlington Royals
Danville Braves
Elizabethton Twins
Greeneville Reds
Johnson City Cardinals
Kingsport Mets
Princeton Rays
Pulaski Yankees

Pioneer League (Rookie – Short Season)
Billings Mustangs
Grand Junction Rockies
Great Falls Voyagers
Idaho Falls Chukars
Missoula PaddleHeads
Ogden Raptors
Orem Owlz
Rocky Mountain Vibes

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16 Responses to Update on 2021 Minor League Baseball – Revision 1

  1. Thomas A Mills says:

    With the Class A leagues I now think it makes more sense to list them in order of the new classification, instead of the old ones. So that all of the High A’s are together, etc.

    I think there is going to be more shuffling in A ball. They’ve mentioned a couple times about a TRUE Carolina League, which I take to mean only teams from the Carolinas. So I tend to think Lynchburg and Salem go elsewhere. Also, in an interview with the Charleston River Dogs owner he hinted they might go High A, which screams Carolina League to me.

  2. Chin says:

    Good stuff, I enjoyed this.

    I’ve tried to figure out the reconfig as well. It’s really, really challenging, especially at the High and Low A levels.

    FWIW, I’ve heard Quad Cities is fairly safe. But that just makes it even more difficult to figure out the leagues.

  3. Mike McCann says:

    I agree with you that I should organize by the new level structure instead of the older one at this point, so I’ll make that update in the next revision. And I could definitely see Lynchburg and Salem going to the South Atlantic League, although I’m not sure what criteria they will use to determine which teams fit where (beyond trying to have a true six team Carolina League). You are going to have geographic overlap regardless, so it’s difficult to make those calls. For a true Carolina League, you could pick from Asheville, Charleston, Columbia, Greensboro, Greenville, Hickory, and Kannapolis to replace those two other teams. And if I were forced to guess, I’d say Columbia would likely be one to join the Carolina League with their new stadium. Or maybe the Red Sox switch Greenville and Salem between the two leagues. But maybe I’ll come up with a different guess with the next one or we’ll get some new information. Thanks!

  4. Al says:

    Great discussion!

    I’ve heard those rumors about the Carolina League being true to their name, but something doesn’t add up. With the new travel requirements, it would be very costly for a league to have a stretched-out geographic footprint. Basically, they’re trying to avoid what the Sally League has become.

    I can see the new league taking on the Virginia teams as well as the Jersey/Delmarva region and then leaving some NC/SC teams to the Carolina. It doesn’t really matter since they are at the same level.

    But it would make no sense for the Sally League to stretch any further north than Hickory or Zebulon. But supposedly the Orioles want to keep Delmarva, so maybe the Sally will have mostly the same geographic footprint when all’s said and done.

  5. Mike McCann says:

    So if Quad Cities is in, who would be out? One of the earlier comments was that Great Lakes was next on the hit list, so could it be them? I’m not sure if there are any obvious choices.

  6. Al says:

    It’s hard to get a read on Quad Cities. About a year ago, Ballpark Digest reported “Beloit’s survival depends on finalizing funding for a new downtown ballpark. If this happens, the Quad Cities River Bandits would be a target.”

    https://ballparkdigest.com/2019/11/18/more-details-emerge-on-mlbs-assault-on-hometown-baseball/

    But this summer, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley spoke with MLB officials and went public with a statement that implied that even though Burlington and Clinton would lose their PDC, the River Bandits are safe.

    https://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Grassley-Cedar-Rapids-Kernels-Iowa-Cubs-and-Quad-Cities-River-Bandits-safe-570177651.html?ref=651

    But I think that if you get right down to the nitty gritty, there’s nothing really protecting the River Bandits. If no MLB team wants them, they are vulnerable.

    The comment I made about Great Lakes is pure speculation – they just stand out to me because they stretch the map, have no regional parent club, and their facility isn’t getting any younger. One protection is that their owner, William Stavropoulos, has been involved in the negotiating team.

    Personally, I think that Quad Cities looks more vulnerable than any other remaining MWL team, assuming that there is a need to get to an even number of teams and that Bowling Green goes to the SL.

    We’ll see. There are certain to be some surprises.

  7. Mike McCann says:

    So if you ignored everything but geography, you could come up with three leagues like this:
    North Atlantic League (High A) made up of NY, NJ, DE, MD teams – Aberdeen, Delmarva, Hudson Valley, Jersey Shore, Tri-City, Wilmington
    Middle Atlantic League (Low A) made up of VA, WV, NC teams – Asheville, Carolina, Down East, Fayetteville, Fredericksburg, Greensboro, Hickory, Kannapolis, Lynchburg, Salem, West Virginia, Winston-Salem
    South Atlantic League (High A) made up of SC and GA teams – Augusta, Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Rome

    It actually worked out much cleaner than I thought before I typed it out. There is no way that MiLB would ever agree to this, but there is definitely an argument to be made. But if you swap Fredericksburg and Delmarva, you have a realistic option for the Mid-Atlantic League. The rest would still be the existing jumble of two overlapping leagues. Delmarva and West Virginia would be the trouble spots for the SAL.

  8. Rob Hoffmann says:

    There is one question mark you can remove. Vancouver Canadians’ PBP man, Rob Fai, posted that the Canadians will be the NWL affiliate of the Athletics.

    Source: https://twitter.com/RobFai/status/1318610871602401280

    I’m not convinced that any of us is going to like where this is going — and I could MLB’s blundering costing us the 2021 minor league season.

  9. Mike McCann says:

    I found some information about Vancouver becomes an A’s affiliate also, so I’ll remove that question mark. So one lucky guess panned out. And I agree that many fans are going to end up disappointed with all of this. The best we can hope for is a May start to the 2021 minor league season at this point. Thanks!

  10. Chin says:

    Re Quad Cities, they seem pretty bullish on being an affiliate going forward. They’re working to get the player facilities up to the new expected standards, which will put them way ahead of a lot of teams:

    https://qctimes.com/sports/baseball/professional/minor/clubhouse-changes-keep-river-bandits-in-the-game/article_7196be59-8b51-5eb4-a7d6-efd1f98ed8c6.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=user-share

  11. Chin says:

    FWIW, I live in Charleston, SC, and rumblings around here are that we’re going to have the Rays High A affiliate here.

  12. Al says:

    A return to the Rays? Marv Goldklang and his buddies have a connection with Tampa stretching back to before the Devil Rays even played a game. The Butte Copper Kings and Hudson Valley Renegades housed Tampa Bay prospects as early as 1996.

    Nice find on the Quad Cities article! Yeah, they seem pretty safe. The Midwest League is hard to read. I wonder if we’ll see Bowling Green stay in order to meet the even-team norm or if there’s some other team that is under siege.

  13. Al says:

    Rumblings about the Rays being a High A affiliate lends credence to that rumor about the Carolina League being based in mostly (or all) in the Carolinas.

    Maybe the Virginia teams will get added the the mid-Atlantic?

    We’re used to the Sally League looking like a sprawled-out mess, and I wonder if it will stay that way. From Rome to (maybe) Zebulon to (maybe) Demarva–if we believe the rumor about the Orioles wanting to keep both the IronBirds and Shorebirds.

    Do you guys ever feel like you’re putting together a puzzle with only half the pieces?

  14. Chin says:

    @A1,

    It’s been fun but frustrating to try to work this! If there are four High A leagues, the max the Midwest League can be is twelve teams. And I think we’ve all had the same issue trying to get the league to that number.

    @Mike, this is a great site, and I appreciate you letting us use this as a place to discuss this topic. I find it really interesting, and I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  15. Al says:

    @Chin

    I think you’re right about the Midwest League – it’s got to be 12. Assuming Bowling Green is out, there is that one more pesky team to account for. I’ve thought about Great Lakes, but if the Dodgers are happy with them, they are safe.

    This is pure speculation – and Mike, if you’d prefer I not do this in your comments, please let me know – but I wonder about the Kane County Cougars. They draw well and have been a staple of the MWL for decades now, but that facility is aging. When Theo Epstein and the Cubs went on their wild facility case in 2014, Kane County was quickly dropped. Now they are likely to lose the Diamondbacks too. It seems easy that the Cougars would be shuffled off to the American Association or the Frontier League. Again – pure speculation!

  16. Mike McCann says:

    Feel free to speculate about anything on topic you want. I think it’s interesting conversation and nice to have with other enthusiasts.

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