Update on 2021 Minor League Baseball – Revision 3

Today the Mets announced that their minor league affiliates would be Syracuse, Binghamton, Brooklyn, and St. Lucie.  It was previously suspected that Binghamton may be contracted, but now it appears that they are remaining in the Eastern League as the Mets AA affiliate.  And that would put Brooklyn as their High A affiliate in the Mid-Atlantic League.  Since Binghamton is in, I will assume that means that the Tri-City ValleyCats didn’t make the cut for now as I need to remove one team from the list.

And as much as I’m tempted to create a true Carolina League, I’ll leave the list alone until there’s at least one piece in place that would create a different makeup.

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

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 – Nationals – Move 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
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?

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
Brooklyn Cyclones – Mets
Fredericksburg Nationals (2019 Potomac Nationals) – Nationals
Hudson Valley Renegades – Yankees
Jersey Shore BlueClaws – Phillies
West Virginia Black Bears – Pirates

Wilmington Blue Rocks – Royals Move to South Atlantic League?

Midwest League (Low A) (High A)
Beloit Snappers – A’s Rays?
Bowling Green Hot Rods – Rays – Move 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

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

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

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

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

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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21 Responses to Update on 2021 Minor League Baseball – Revision 3

  1. Al says:

    I’ve been sifting through the ripple effects of today’s news. With Brooklyn added to the mid-atlantic, I think it increases the odds that Fredericksburg could go to the South Atlantic League. We know the Orioles want to have both Aberdeen and Delmarva, and Fredericksburg’s presence in the Sally would help to justify Delmarva staying there. Since the Nats don’t have a FSL team, the FredNats could be their low-A club.

    If that were to happen, I wonder if Washington would make a play for Wilmington in the mid-Atlantic? Talk about having your cake and eating it too. Along with Harrisburg/Richmond at Double-A and Rochester/Nashville at Triple-A, the Nationals could have a everyone pretty close to home.

  2. Thomas A Mills says:

    Rochester who was notified today that they were losing the Twins AAA franchise, were told they’d have their new team by Dec 1st. So I’m assuming that’s the deadline for everything to be decided/announced.

  3. Al says:

    That jibes with what Columbia said about waiting “a few weeks” to announce their new parent club. But if the last few days are any indication, there will be leaks! I suppose that if an MLB team knows for sure who their affiliates are, they can just announce them like the Mets did.

  4. Chin says:

    Yes, agreed, I think Wilmington makes a lot of sense as a Nats High A affiliate, with Fredericksburg at Low A.

    So Mid-Atlantic: Aberdeen(?), Brooklyn, Jersey Shore, Hudson Valley, Wilmington and ??? Does West Virginia fit into this geographically? Since Binghamton “came back from the dead” today, could Frederick do the same and end up in the Mid Atlantic? It would be a decent fit for the Pirates (not *too* far from Pittsburgh). Or the Nats, with the Pirates in Wilmington? It’s hard to find a sixth team to fit into the Mid Atlantic. Kick Harrisburg to High A, Nats move AA to Richmond?

  5. Chin says:

    JJ Cooper at Baseball America says he’s pretty confident that he knows the final 120, but he’s not going to dish without complete confidence.

    https://twitter.com/jjcoop36/status/1326355612544987136

    Ballpark Digest heard an AL Central team is headed to Columbia to replace the Mets. Assuming the White Sox (Kannapolis/Winston-Salem), Tigers (Lakeland/West Michigan) and Minnesota (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) are set at both A levels, that leaves Indians (for Low A) or Royals (for either level, though it would make sense for them to have High A in the Midwest League).

  6. Al says:

    Anything seems possible these days, but I think West Virginia in the new league is likely due to the Pirates needing a high-A team and being so attached to the Black Bears. It stretches the map a bit, but it’s doable.

    https://minorleaguegeek.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/mally.png?w=1159

    Can you imagine a scenario where a random team like the Royals lucks into getting Augusta at Low-A and Columbia at High-A? Two still-shiny parks only a short drive from each other. For a while, I thought the Braves might go for Augusta, but now that we know for sure that the GreenJackets will be in the Sally League, they’ll likely be in the same league as Rome. It’ll be interesting to see who the Braves get at High A. Mike has them returning to Myrtle Beach, and that seems like a good guess.

  7. Robert Hoffmann says:

    Would you believe… the Triple-A Richmond Nationals?

    That’s the rumor here in Richmond — this would set up the Nats’ farm system as Richmond-Harrisburg-Fredericksburg-(possibly)West Virginia… with the SB Nation Federal Baseball blog speculating that Southern Maryland could be poached from the Atlantic League as the low-A affiliate.

    https://richmond.com/sports/professional/running-through-squirrels-uncertainty-could-be-path-to-partner-with-nationals/article_f166be72-2004-5ef9-bd06-fce01a11c6d7.html

    https://www.federalbaseball.com/2020/11/8/21555848/speculating-on-the-nationals-minor-league-configuration-for-2021-and

  8. Chin says:

    Yeah, I do think West Virginia makes a lot of sense. And FWIW, Morgantown is slightly closer to Binghamton than it is to Brooklyn, so it may be easier to justify putting the High A team in Binghamton if the rest of the teams aren’t all grouped so tightly in that very East alignment.

    I’d be surprised if any Central team (aside from the White Sox) ends up with a High A team outside the Midwest League, but if the Royals can pull off the two A teams being relatively close to each other, I could see them going for it. Their AA and AAA teams are relatively close to KC for rehab purposes, so why not grab some spots in areas with better early season weather?

    It appears the Braves will have plenty of relatively close sites to choose from. I thought it made too much sense to put Augusta into a High A league as a Braves affiliate, but I guess that’s not meant to be. I wonder if Rome gets the

    Here’s my early attempt at a High A league that’s not going to happen now:

    Augusta – Braves
    Charleston – Rays
    Columbia – Marlins
    Down East – Rangers
    Salem – Red Sox
    Winston-Salem – White Sox

    *I had the Cubs keeping Myrtle Beach at Low A (with High A in South Bend), and the Astros’ owned Fayetteville also dropping, with them keeping Quad Cities for High A.

  9. Al says:

    Robert, I can totally believe that Richmond is under consideration for Triple-A. The new ballpark talks stalled out a few years back, but with a new park, Richmond is definitely a good fit for the IL.

    But I don’t see it happening this year because another franchise would have to give up their spot at Triple-A and it would all have to go down in the next few weeks. I can squint and see a scenario where the Rangers stick with Nashville and Round Rock loses its PDC or is somehow demoted back down to the Texas League. That’s easier for me to imagine than Rochester being booted out of the IL.

    That Federal Baseball article is a fanpost, though, and there was a follow up saying that there has been no contact with Southern Maryland.

    https://www.federalbaseball.com/2020/11/9/21557737/minor-league-baseball-2021-maryland-blue-crabs-no-contact-with-washington-nationals

    If West Virginia makes the cut, I think it’s safe to say that the reason would be strong campaigning from the Pirates. They affiliated with the Jamestown Jammers a full year in advance of the move, and had a strong hand in working with WVU to create the Black Bears.

    Either way, the Nats are a team to watch during this process. Variables at all levels.

  10. Al says:

    @Chin

    I think Augusta would be a great fit in the Carolina League too, but one of the articles yesterday (so many, I can’t remember which one) said that the reason the GreenJackets would no longer be with the Giants is because San Jose and Augusta would both be at Low A.

  11. Chin says:

    @A1, yeah, I saw that one, too. I’m starting to doubt the “source” that told me here in Charleston to expect the Rays to move in at High A.

    I had also written that I could see the Pirates lobbying early for West Virginia, but my post got so long that I deleted it, haha. But confidence in Binghamton at AA seems to be pretty high this morning.

    I still think the Nats end up in Rochester at AAA, but man, those whispers about Richmond are loud. Probably not, but Nats AA in Richmond, with Harrisburg dropping down to the Mid Atlantic, and Fredericksburg to Low A?

    Confidence seems high in the Rockies staying in Hartford: https://news.yahoo.com/minor-league-realignment-settles-look-113600973.html (I’m thrilled for Binghamton, as I lived there a long time, but I’m surprised the Mets didn’t make a run for Hartford.)

    Twins likely to end up in Wichita for AA (I think we all assumed this already): https://twitter.com/ballparkdigest/status/1326362016097955840

  12. Al says:

    I’m a little surprised about Hartford. Thought there was a chance that Boston might make a play for the newer park, but it’s probably good to keep the Maine fan base energized. Also those sports fandom maps show basically a 50/50 split in Connecticut for Yankees and Sox. Might be better for the Yard Goats to stay neutral.

    Any thoughts on who the Giants will get at Double-A? San Antonio?

  13. Thomas A Mills says:

    The Charleston (SC) newspaper has an interview with the owner that hinted at going to High A. (Personally I’d like to see my Reds there in Low A, but I suspect that ain’t happening).

  14. Thomas A Mills says:

    BTW, MLB told all the teams to stop leaking info, so the info may stop.

  15. Al says:

    Hey Thomas

    Could you give a link to that Charleston article? I searched for a while and couldn’t find it.

  16. Thomas A Mills says:

    Here’s the link

    https://www.postandcourier.com/sports/new-york-yankees-probably-leaving-charleston-riverdogs-no-comment/article_adb02b10-20fe-11eb-b4e3-53d4c8714ad3.html

    But it’s behind a pay wall now. I was able to copy/paste part of it
    _____

    RiverDogs President/General Manager Dave Echols reached Saturday would not confirm the split and said he had “no comment” on when the RiverDogs might announce a new Major League Baseball affiliate.

    Such a move was not unexpected as Major League Baseball in 2020 was set to impose massive changes on minor league baseball in cost-cutting and efficiency measures to include contraction of 25 to 33 percent of minor league clubs, mostly below the Class A level. This would have altered league and affiliation structures but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced cancellation of all affiliated minor league baseball in 2020.

    Changes might include the RiverDogs moving up to a high-level Class A classification.
    ___

    I took that to mean the President hinted about moving up.

  17. Al says:

    Thank you! Yes that’s a pretty strong hint. I don’t think they would publish that unless there’s some validity behind it. And even though Chin is doubting their “source” if the RiverDogs were in a new stripped down Carolina League, the Rays could be an option if they are at a different level than Port Charlotte.

  18. Chin says:

    I think the Giants still end up in Richmond, but if the Nats manage to wiggle their way into RVA for AAA, I have no idea where the Giants would end up, or what team would lose their AAA classification. But it feels like we’re too late in the game for teams to start making changes, so either the Nats to Richmond has already been decided, or it’s not happening. I can’t believe they’re at a point where they’re still deciding affiliates.

    I think these are the changes we see at AA:
    -Yankees to Somerset (duh)
    -Marlins to Pensacola
    -Twins to Wichita
    -Diamondbacks to San Antonio

    Pretty much a sure thing that Binghamton stays at AA, but no confirmation yet, so I guess it’s possible that Brooklyn also makes it to the Eastern League.

    I also wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the Orioles shuffle their affiliates some, and a city like Aberdeen makes it to AA, with Bowie dropping a level or two.

  19. Chin says:

    Okay, I take back what I said. Still a lot of moving parts apparently:

    https://twitter.com/ballparkdigest/status/1326893630783709195

  20. Al says:

    Yes there is a lot of wild speculation going on. I’ve read through a bunch of the articles that regional newspapers are publishing about their local clubs, and it’s a lot of speculation and very little actual validity. Reichard mentioned the other day that MLB teams have been apprised of their affiliates, but I wonder if we’re in a phase of arguing and appealing. Maybe there will be some big-swing surprises like more teams moving up to Triple-A, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

    https://ballparkdigest.com/2020/11/10/mlb-teams-being-appraised-of-their-milb-affiliates/

    On the subject of Double-A, I think Chin and Mike’s predictions seem fairly likely. Reichard did mention (same article) that Richmond is likely to lose the Giants, but he may have been going off the regional newspaper articles that are trading in guesses. We can guess here, and we’re not even being paid for it!

    I feel like there’s a 50/50 chance Richmond ends up with someone else, but if it’s not the Giants, I don’t know who it would be.

    And though I have not heard a single peep about the Bowling Green/Chattanooga situation since like February, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that change at Double-A as well. This came out last winter about the Lookouts being basically unable to expand their clubhouses due to the way the ballpark is situated on the edge of a cliff.

    https://ballparkdigest.com/2020/02/13/lookouts-small-att-field-site-limits-potential-upgrades/

    Add that to Bowling Green’s ridiculous geographic position in the Midwest League, and I can totally see it happening. I think there will be 5-6 affiliation changes at Double-A. (now watch there be like 10)

  21. Al says:

    Reichard just tweeted this too:

    “Some Myrtle Beach fans, for instance, are hyperventilating about losing the Cubs even though they are not losing the Cubs as a parent.”

    Weird wording, but I think he’s saying that the Cubs will be continuing on with Myrtle Beach. If so, the Pelicans would be poised to move to the Sally League. If that’s true, then I’d say it’s highly unlikely (due to geography) that the RiverDogs are moving to the Carolina League.

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