Update on 2021 Minor League Baseball – Rochester Red Wings are Nationals AAA Affiliate

It was announced that the Rochester Red Wings will be the Nationals AAA affiliate.  This is not a surprising development given all of the other changes, but it does mean that Richmond will likely remain in the AA Eastern League.  Other Nationals affiliates are still in play since Hagerstown was on the Low A contraction list and there hasn’t been any announcement on the other three Nationals affiliates.  Since this will only remove a question mark from my list, I’ll refrain from showing it again today.

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31 Responses to Update on 2021 Minor League Baseball – Rochester Red Wings are Nationals AAA Affiliate

  1. Al says:

    Cool things:

    The Nationals become the fourth MLB team to have the Red Wings as their affiliate. The nickname was a play on their original parent club, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals booted up the Red Wings in the late twenties – one of the earliest affiliated teams in the minors.

    In this age of teams changing their names willy-nilly, Rochester has been called the Red Wings continuously for almost 100 years.

    A weird coincidence about the affiliation with the Twins is that there are notable cities in Minnesota called Rochester (home of Mayo Clinic) and Red Wing (home of Red Wing boots).

    The Nationals leave the Fresno Grizzlies after one season of a weird pairing. In the last decade, the Grizzlies were the Triple-A affiliate of 5 of 10 World Series championship teams–’10, ’12, ’14, ’17, & ’19. The craziest thing is that these were with three parent clubs.

  2. Chin says:

    We had discussed this possibility earlier:

    https://ballparkdigest.com/2020/11/20/nationals-red-wings-announce-affiliation-deal/

    “One proposal on the table had the Red Wings shifting to the Double-A Eastern League, with the Richmond Flying Squirrels moving to Triple-A as the top Nationals affiliation.”

  3. Chin says:

    Baseball America has a tracker of “official” finalized affiliates. They’ve added the Mariners, all four teams, along with the known Mets and Yankees sites, and the AAA pairings for the Nats and Astros. No surprise on where the Mariners end up: Tacoma, Arkansas, Everett and Modesto, noting the classification swaps of the NW and CAL.

    https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/2021-minor-league-baseball-affiliation-chart/

  4. Al says:

    The thing that most stands out to me from the BA tracker is that Texas and Round Rock are not confirmed on there. Cooper retweeted that newspaper report from the other day. I took that to mean it would be a stamp of approval, but he’s holding back for now. Perfect example of how careful the guy is being. He’s been very tight-lipped for months. I listened to a few podcasts over the summer and the only hint he gave about individual teams was that Erie seemed assured of moving off the old list of 42.

    I’ve been wondering why Cooper leaked the Yankees affiliates. I mean, lots of publicity for BA, but he also gave us the first crack in the dam that kicked off this crazy speculation. This is only a guess, but I suspect that he is doing some sort of guerrilla advocacy for minor league owners – trying to light a fire under MLB to get the whole list of 120 out ASAP so that minor league owners can get a schedule and start selling sponsorships and tickets.

  5. Chin says:

    Yeah, the Yankees release really set this all off. I’m not one to defend the Yankees, but that pretty much forced them to make an official announcement.

    Sugar Land has made the relationship “Twitter Official”, so he must have gotten work that the deal was going to happen.

  6. Chin says:

    Per Ballpark Digest, the Astros are expected to host their High A team in the Midwest League, which I guess points to Fayetteville dropping down to Low A/SAL.

    https://ballparkdigest.com/2020/11/20/astros-add-sugar-land-as-new-triple-a-affiliate/

  7. Al says:

    This seems like a jumping off point to share my latest thoughts on the Carolina and Sally League. I went through all the expectations and rumors that have gone around and did sort of a “what if all the rumors are true” simulation, and tried to maintain some geographic sanity.

    Carolina League

    Asheville Tourists (MIA)
    Charleston RiverDogs (TB)
    Down East Wood Ducks (TEX)
    Greensboro Grasshoppers (PIT)
    Greenville Drive (BOS)
    Winston-Salem Dash (CHI)

    Here’s a map: https://minorleaguegeek.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/carolinanew.png?w=989

    I can’t stand how Charleston is way to the south, but if we’re to believe the strong Charleston-to-Rays rumor, either they’ll be in the Carolina or the Stone Crabs are leaving the FSL.

    South Atlantic League

    Augusta GreenJackets (x)
    Carolina Mudcats (MIL)
    Columbia Fireflies (KC)
    Delmarva Shorebirds (BAL)
    Fayetteville Woodpeckers (HOU)
    Fredericksburg Nationals (WAS)
    Hickory Crawdads (TEX)
    Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (CHI)
    Lynchburg Hillcats (CLE)
    Myrtle Beach Pelicans (CHC)
    Rome Braves (ATL)
    Salem Red Sox (BOS)

    Potential “x” teams: CIN, COL, MIN, TB (largely depends on whether we see surprises in the Florida State League.)

    Map: https://minorleaguegeek.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/sally.png

    A Sally footprint like this isn’t as bad as I thought. You could see three divisions of four teams – a north, central, and south.

    Of course, there’s no way all the rumors are true. But it’s interesting to see what it would look like if that were the case. I’m dying of curiosity to know if we’ll see surprises in the FSL. If Daytona’s in, it would be Fort Myers or Charlotte out. If Daytona’s out, I’d put Augusta with the Reds as has been loosely rumored.

  8. Al says:

    I should also mention the Braves. You’ve got to think they’re in the mix for a Carolina League if the Charleston/Rays thing doesn’t work out. Of course, the Braves have been in the Midwest League before and it wouldn’t be a total shock to see it happen again.

  9. Mike McCann says:

    I was going to ask you where you would put the Braves. When creating the Mid-Atlantic League based on all of this, there are only five natural affiliations (Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Orioles, Nationals) so I’m not sure who that sixth affiliation would be. Just thinking of other logical options, Blue Jays and Indians would be in the Midwest League and the Pirates and Red Sox are in the Carolina League. Or even what the sixth team would be in this scenario, Trenton perhaps? I think it would be difficult to see the Braves going to the Midwest League because while it is true that they have been there, in the 55 years since they moved to Atlanta they were only there for three (Burlington 1988-1990). Then again, the Rays and Marlins don’t fit there either and they have spent many years in the Midwest League.

  10. Al says:

    I wonder if we’ll see Bowling Green stay in the MWL. Maybe they stay with the Rays and then the RiverDogs (or Augusta/Columbia if the rumors are wrong) go to the Braves at high A.

    Or maybe Bowling Green to Atlanta if they stay in the MWL. When you get right down to it, BG isn’t that far from Atlanta and some of the other Braves affiliates.

    Mike’s suggestion of the mid Atlantic could be in play with ATL as well.

  11. Al says:

    https://twitter.com/GeneBattaglia/status/1329907848227205121

    Wow, it’s a 10-year deal between Rochester and Washington. Seems to be legit.

    I thought it would be a shorter deal to allow for Richmond’s possible new park.

  12. Chin says:

    Maybe there is some truth to the Charlotte rumors with the Rays, and they’re headed to Low-A in Charleston?

    South Atlantic League
    Augusta – Braves
    Carolina – Brewers
    Charleston – Rays
    Columbia – Royals (with you on the Royals here, A1, I think they make the most sense)
    Delmarva – Orioles
    Down East – Rangers
    Fayetteville – Astros
    Fredericksburg – Nationals
    Kannapolis – White Sox
    Lynchburg – Indians
    Myrtle Beach – Cubs
    Salem – Red Sox

    There are five pretty solid bets for Carolina League parent clubs at this point, right? So it’s the Braves or Rays out.

    Carolina League
    Asheville – Marlins
    Greensboro – Pirates
    Greenville – Red Sox
    Hickory – Rangers
    Rome – Braves (This violates Ballpark Digest’s “true Carolina League”, but fits geographically here)
    Winston-Salem – White Sox

    I like Mike’s suggestion about Trenton in the MAL.

    Mid Atlantic League
    Aberdeen – Orioles
    Brooklyn – Mets
    Hudson Valley – Yankees
    Jersey Shore – Phillies
    Trenton – Rays?
    Wilmington – Nationals

    It’s weird to me that the Rays would give up Charlotte, but I’m not one to second guess Ballpark Digest.

  13. Chin says:

    Interview with the South Bend Cubs president on the MW League. Not surprising news. Burlington and Clinton cut, plus two other teams out. Mentions Bowling Green moving to another league, but doesn’t address what would happen to the fourth team.

    https://twitter.com/Sportsradio961/status/1329914316141826052

  14. Al says:

    I’ve never considered Rome shifting up to the Carolina, but it would be a good geographic fit if Asheville and Greenville are there – a pretty clean east/west divisional split.

    True that the news out of South Bend isn’t surprising. It’s what we’ve been hearing for a year, but there are a few potential conflicts. I assume that they mean Bowling Green would go to the Southern League as expected. That’s really the only other league they fit now that Lexington is gone.

    So if it’s the SL, they would essentially replace Jacksonville. But we know that two teams need to leave Double-A. Ballpark Digest’s affiliate dance has both Chattanooga and Jackson “expected to renew” with their current teams. Maybe that’s inaccurate, or maybe we’re missing something. But it’s hard to see it being two surprise teams from the Eastern or Texas League.

  15. Al says:

    Apologies if this is a little bit on the tinfoil hat side, but I keep thinking about that tweet from Ballpark Digest on the 13th:

    “One team decision left to make after a big decision involving three MiLB affiliates and three MLB teams one being the Jays — was hammered out yesterday morning.”

    Now we know for sure that the big decision that was hammered out was not related to Rochester. The affiliate dance lists New Hampshire as expected to renew. Buffalo and Dunedin are pretty much locks.

    That leaves Lansing.

    I can easily see how the last big decisions involve the Midwest League, especially with the Bowling Green situation. The Midwest League needs to cut at least one more team, and maybe two if Bowling Green is unable to squeeze into the Southern League.

    (tinfoil hat on) What if Oakland rejects Vancouver and stays with Beloit, Toronto decides to stick with the Canadians, and Lansing leaves the affiliated ranks? That’s only two MLB teams, but maybe the third was whatever team had been originally assigned to Beloit – now off to some other spot.

  16. Al says:

    I took some time to look over each Midwest League team, including those Ballpark Digest affiliate dance notes. It’s up for debate of course, but here’s how I group MWL teams.

    Regional pairs that are basically guaranteed to renew:

    Cedar Rapids (MIN)
    Dayton (CIN)
    South Bend (CHC)
    West Michigan (DET)

    Regional pairs that are seem very likely to renew:

    Lake County (CLE)
    Wisconsin (MIL)

    Regional-ish pairs that seem likely-ish to renew:

    Lansing (TOR)
    Peoria (STL)

    Teams reported or fully expected to be safe, but not necessarily due to specific affiliation:

    Beloit (tbd)
    Quad Cities (maybe HOU)

    Teams that seem kinda safe, with supposedly happy west coast MLB affiliation that may be stretched due to the Northwest League:

    Fort Wayne (SDP)
    Great Lakes (LAD)

    Teams we haven’t heard a peep about, and are expected to lose their current parent:

    Kane County

    Teams that maybe (probably?) will be shifted to another league:

    Bowling Green

    Teams that we’ll miss:

    Burlington
    Clinton

    One thing that stood out to me from combing through those BPD notes is that Wisconsin and Lake County both have question marks while the other regional pairings do not. The Rattlers and Captains have some similarities. Both stretch the league map quite a bit, but both were chosen as alternate training sites in 2020 – seems like that’s a good indication of quality training facilities.

    Wisconsin and Milwaukee have a good thing going. Actually, if the wealthy Fox Cities area forked over enough tax dollars for a new facility, it’s not impossible for me to imagine the Rattlers being a divisional pair with St. Paul. Population/attendance leave something to be desired, but it could be like a Gwinnett situation. (Also, population/attendance seem much less important nowadays, with Trenton being a prime example.)

    On the flipside, what if the Brewers snaked the Rattlers and their aging stadium and joined up with Beloit? You can bet that the other MLB teams wouldn’t miss the long bus rides up north and the chilly spring games.

    Lake County seems safe because Cleveland wouldn’t have an obvious affiliate otherwise. I mean, Great Lakes? Fort Wayne?

    This looks like a tough decision for someone to make. If I were pressed to guess today, I’d say that if Bowling Green is in fact leaving, Kane County is the most likely team to go, with runners-up Great Lakes, Lansing, Peoria.

  17. Chin says:

    Really great rundown, A1. We’ve spent so much time focusing on the SAL/Carolina configurations, but the fate of an unknown team in the Midwest League is probably the biggest question out there right now. There really isn’t an easy answer, unless there’s some really, really surprising promotion to AAA coming, though that would create a big issue trying to make room in AAA. Other than a third contraction, there doesn’t seem to be an easy move there.

    I don’t think that Blue Jays/Vancouver suggestion is too crazy. Ballpark Digest’s Friday newsletter said specifically that the A’s, Dodgers, Giants and Padres have all “fought” being forced into the NW League (or more accurately, out of spots they really like). The Giants don’t seem to have an argument for keeping Augusta if there’s going to be a conflict at that classification with San Jose. So assume the Diamondback, Mariners and Rockies stay where they’re at in the NW, the Giants go by default, and the Angels don’t care, you have one spot to fill, but none of the remaining West Coast teams want to go. If the Jays staying in Vancouver as the sixth team means LAD/OAK/SD can all stay in the MW League, that seems like an easy solution.

    Ballpark Digest has “Blue Jays?” as Lansing’s future affiliate, with no other Midwest League team having a similar designation. They either have a MLB parent without the question mark, or a question mark without a MLB parent listed.

  18. Al says:

    It would be disappointing to see Lansing leave affiliated ball. If they did, I wonder if they would keep the Lemonade League alive? It would be a different version of “when life gives you lemons.”

    https://www.milb.com/news/lugnuts-get-creative-with-colorful-in-house-collegiate-circuit

    Maybe MLB would assist them with funneling some of those “Showcase League” players to Michigan before the draft. (or they just join the Northwoods League)

    Kane County is still my prediction, but there may end up being two surprise cuts if BG doesn’t fit into the Southern League.

  19. Thomas A Mills says:

    Alex Stumpf, whose Twitter says he is Pirates beat reporter (but no blue dot) says;

    Travis Williams tells me he “fully anticipates” Indianapolis, Altoona, Bradenton and Greensboro to be the Pirates’ minor-league affiliates under the new league model.

  20. Thomas A Mills says:

    A little speculation here. Poorly written sentence in this article
    https://ballparkdigest.com/2020/11/20/astros-add-sugar-land-as-new-triple-a-affiliate/

    Says
    ‘The move gives the Astros ownership of three of its four MiLB affiliates, with it looking like the team will be in the soon-to-be High-A Midwest League as well.”

    Astros own Fayetteville according to your blue font. If so, it sounds like Fayetteville will be Low A.

  21. Al says:

    Hey guys,

    I took some time to dig into the BPD affiliate dance page again today. One update I noticed is that Fort Myers seems to be safe. Reichard has them listed as likely 2021 Twins affiliate.

    Not so safe for the Charlotte Stone Crabs. They are owned by Caribbean Baseball Initiative, LLC, which is the same company that runs the Wichita Wind Surge. CBI was a passion project for a man named Lou Schwechheimer, who tragically died from Covid-19 complications this summer.

    https://www.milb.com/news/lou-schwechheimer-obituary

    As bizarre as it would be to have the Rays without an FSL affiliate, it seems like a real possibility.

    I’m starting to lean towards Chin’s thought about Charleston in the Sally.

    Reds – Daytona and Dayton
    Rays – Charleston and Bowling Green or other MWL team or mystery MAL team
    Braves – Augusta and mystery 6th Carolina League team (maybe Chin’s idea of Rome getting a promotion)

  22. Al says:

    One more thing…if a western team like Rome were added to the Carolina League, I think that would be good reason for the Rangers to flip-flop their clubs. Hickory is very close to Asheville, Greenville, Greensboro and Winston-Salem, while Down East makes much more sense in the same league with the Mudcats, Pelicans, and Woodpeckers.

    A 6-team Carolina league of Asheville, Greenville, Greensboro, Hickory, Rome, Winston-Salem would be very efficient.

    Also, it would keep Augusta, Columbia, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach all in the same league.

  23. Chin says:

    Yeah, that was pretty much my thinking as well. The SAL/Carolina League teams that are further west merge into the new Carolina League. You could then break the SAL up into three divisions and play unbalanced schedules to limit travel in what would still be a pretty large league.

    South: Augusta, Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach
    Central: Carolina, Down East, Fayetteville, Kannapolis
    North: Delmarva, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, Salem

    Or Down East and Fayetteville South, Carolina and Kannapolis North if going with two divisions.

    I guess MLB has pretty much managed to get the leaks to stop. I wonder if we’re all just going to have to wait for the final reveal, which will hopefully come on the rumored December 1st.

  24. Chin says:

    So I’ve been playing around with getting the Midwest League down to twelve teams. Agree with A1 that we could (probably?) see another unfortunate contraction here. But I wanted to see if I could save all fourteen (acknowledging that Burlington and Clinton are gone). So this is really stretching it, and it’s not going to happen, but it was fun to play around with. 🙂

    Despite some recent rumblings, I’m still going with Jackson and Chattanooga not making the cut.

    -Bowling Green: Moves to Southern League to replace Jacksonville. I’m going to put the Brewers here, assuming they also end up in Nashville for AAA.
    -Dayton: Moves to Eastern League (Western Division). Reds AA, natch.
    -Harrisburg: Moves to Mid Atlantic League as Nationals’ High A team. Nats move to Richmond for AA. Or you can really ding Richmond for a bad stadium and drop them to the MAL, and keep Harrisburg in AA.

    Obviously that’s pushing it. Dayton to Portland is a haul, to say the least. But it’s a bad travel league regardless. You can reconfigure by just having Dayton replace Harrisburg/Richmond in the Western Division, or like my suggestion on the SAL, split up into three divisions (Western, Southern, Eastern) and play unbalanced, PCL-style.

    If Toronto does end up in Vancouver, you can put the Reds in Lansing for High A. Or maybe shift the Padres there, with the Reds in Fort Wayne.

  25. Al says:

    Yeah, the leaks have slowed from a slow trickle to occasional drips and drops. The juiciest thing I’ve read recently is from Adam McCalvy, who is a very reliable source. This may also explain why JJ Cooper – despite retweeting that Round Rock article last week – hasn’t confirmed it on his affiliation tracker.

    https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/2021-minor-league-baseball-affiliation-chart/

    McCalvy dropped this in a mailbag article where someone asked about the Brewers at Triple-A.

    https://www.mlb.com/brewers/news/david-stearns-brewers-offseason-plans

    “I’ve heard two possibilities, though these are only possibilities: Wichita, which has a new stadium that was to house the Marlins’ top affiliate in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic struck, and Nashville, the Brewers’ former longtime Triple-A home. Nashville opened a new stadium in ’15, just as the Brewers were nudged out to their chagrin. Milwaukee officials would be thrilled about a reunion, should that come to pass.”

    I take this to mean that there is at least a decent chance that the Rangers stick with Nashville. And if that’s the case, the Brewers might wonder why they would stuck with Round Rock when the Express can be demoted just as easily at Wichita and their new park. If I were a betting man, I’d still guess that Texas to Round Rock is more likely than not.

    I also keep looking at that BPD affiliate dance (I’m desperate, I know) and there is something really fishy going on with Double-A. He basically has those 31 teams slated for Double-A. Reichard seems very sure that Wichita is “going to the Texas League” as a Twins affiliate. Oddly, the San Antonio Missions are listed “reportedly going to the Texas League” with a question mark next to their new parent club. I have to take this all with a grain of salt. Reichard said on that Rochester podcast that Wichita and San Antonio were being demoted.

    Buuuuuuut…here’s the thing.

    The Diamondbacks need a Double-A team. What if they (and MLB) have worked something out with Jackson to keep the Generals around. And with Richmond expected to stick with the Giants, that could leave the Missions as the odd team out. Wolff Stadium is known to be questionable at best – they only got Triple-A when a new ballpark was a possibility. Maybe San Antonio will be out of affiliated ball for a few years while the city decides if it wants to build a new minor league park or hold out for MLB.

    As for balancing the leagues, the M-Braves could slide over to the Texas League. Not ideal, but the trade off would be a more efficient Southern League.

    As for the Reds, I think we’re looking at an either/or with Chattanooga and Bowling Green. Reichard expects Chattanooga to renew, but also says that Bowling Green’s “final classification TBA.” If Chattanooga is renewed, I think they’ll keep Bowling Green in the Midwest League and cut other teams to make space.

    I also have no idea why there’s a question mark next to Bowie. I started to think about how the Eastern League could drop Bowie and Richmond (Squirrels to Southern League?) but that makes no sense at all. The Orioles will have some regional team in the EL. Maybe it’s just sloppiness that the question mark is there. Or maybe Bowie will be swapped out for Aberdeen or Delmarva.

    Too many maybes! We need something real to work with.

  26. Chin says:

    Well, I guess we can tear up a lot of our plans. JJ Cooper has the latest scoop:

    -Two AAA Leagues
    -Three AA Leagues
    -THREE High A Leagues
    -Three Low A Leagues

    https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/mlb-nears-decision-on-120-full-season-minor-league-clubs-for-2021/

    Per his report, High A will be NWL, MWL and MAL. I wonder if this would allow for the MWL to stay a at fourteen teams, with the NWL at six and the MAL at ten?

    Back to the drawing board…

  27. Al says:

    Interesting.

    Kind of disturbing that at least one of the southeastern leagues is simply going to disappear. Since all the teams are getting mixed up anyway, all we’re really losing is the name of the league, but that still bothers me on some level. “South Atlantic League” probably has a better chance of surviving than “Carolina League” does, but maybe they’ll just roll both into something like a “Southeast League.”

    Chin, I think you are on the right track with your high-A prediction. Another possibility could be 6-12-12.

    He says that the MAL will include teams from the “Carolinas that played in the South Atlantic and Carolina Leagues in the past.” One of the biggest question marks for me is whether there will be a clean geographic split between the SAL and MAL. As in, will the Orioles still get Delmarva and Aberdeen? I think it will be a little messy in the middle. (the affiliate dance still lists Bowie with a question mark for status. Maybe the Baysox will get squeezed out and replaced by Aberdeen or Delmarva)

    Also buried in there is the plan for the Pioneer League. Sounds like it will continue to exist as an indy “Partner League.” At this point, I’m just glad that the league can continue.

  28. Al says:

    I took a close look at how things look with this new information. There are basically 23 teams to fit into these two leagues. (I’m not including West Virginia or Trenton at this point.)

    The big question is if we’re going to get a 10/12 MAL/SAL or a 12/10. Considering the situations in the Midwest and Florida State League, the 10/12 seems much more doable as Chin suggested. But it’s hard to get down to only ten teams and still accommodate the affiliation needs of the White Sox, Rangers, etc. Basically, you’d have to cut out Greensboro and Asheville, both recently rumored to be at High-A.

    The 12/10 is much more geographically efficient and can include Greensboro and Asheville. I’d throw Hickory in there in place of Down East. But how can you justify cutting out a Kane County or Lansing while keeping the Fire Frogs alive. That last part only seems possible if the Braves truly embrace having an FSL team in their North Port complex. But as Reichard says, “gone daddy gone.”

    In either scenario, I think it’s very unlikely that the Orioles can get to keep both Aberdeen and Delmarva. It was already a geographic stretch, but if there’s only going to be 10 MAL teams and no Carolina League, there’s just no fit. If Aberdeen leaves, they might go to the MLB Draft/Showcase League (along with West Virginia, Williamsport, Hagerstown, etc.) but I think the IronBirds are more likely to stay than the Shorebirds.

    Delmarva may be a victim of this process – almost like a trickle effect of Binghamton unexpectedly staying among the 120.

  29. Chin says:

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one up late last night trying to figure this out.

    Yep, Delmarva (or any Maryland team) just doesn’t seem to fit in the new SAL. Would the Orioles be okay with a move to Lynchburg? I’m giving Ballpark Digest the benefit of the doubt, keeping Asheville in the MAL. Run the MAL east from there to Hickory, head northeast to Winston-Salem and Greensboro, then north, splitting Salem (MAL) and Lynchburg (SAL), and then keep heading northeast for the rest of the MAL? Doing that gets to an easy eleven SAL teams:

    Augusta – ?
    Carolina – Brewers
    Charleston – Rays?
    Columbia – ?
    Down East – Rangers
    Fayetteville – Astros
    Greenville – Red Sox
    Kannapolis – White Sox
    Lynchburg – Orioles?
    Myrtle Beach – Cubs
    Rome – Braves

    If the rumor about Chattanooga being safe is true, could that be the fit as the twelfth SAL team? They’re a big geographic outlier for a lot of the SAL, but unlike a place like Delmarva, they’ve got some regional neighbors in Greenville and Rome.

    Dropping Chattanooga and Jacksonville (with Jackson staying) from the Southern League gets them to eight, which allows for the Texas League expansion of San Antonio and Wichita (and status quo in the Eastern League, other than Somerset/Trenton).

    The the MAL at ten, with the MWL staying at fourteen?

    Aberdeen – Orioles
    Brooklyn – Mets
    Fredericksburg – Nationals
    Greensboro – Pirates
    Hickory – Rangers
    Hudson Valley – Yankees
    Jersey Shore – Phillies
    Salem – Red Sox
    Winston-Salem – White Sox
    Wilmington – Rays?

    But that’s a brutal, brutal blow to minor league ball in Maryland. I can’t image MLB would do that, but who knows.

  30. Al says:

    That’s interesting – I’ve never considered splitting up Lynchburg and Salem, but if it made the puzzle fit, MLB probably wouldn’t hesitate to do it. Just a heads up that I don’t see Asheville on your lists. (Very hard to get that MAL to 10, right?)

    If we get a MAL at 10 and a MWL at 14 that includes Bowling Green, I’ll be very curious to see where the Braves, Rays, Royals land. Wilmington is rumored to possibly get an east coast affiliate. Braves would be a weird fit in Phillies/Nats territory, so I like your suggestion of the Rays. If Tampa Bay leaves Bowling Green, I think the Hot Rods become a legit option for Atlanta. As for the Royals, maybe a return of the KC/KC connection in the Midwest League?

    This is certainly a brutal blow to minor league fans in Maryland, but it’s more like going from being super rich to middle class, so I don’t feel too bad for them. At various points in the past 30 years or so, the maps of four leagues were stretched to accommodate Orioles’ affiliates. It was easier to justify Lakewood in the SAL with Delmarva there, Wilmington in the Carolina with Frederick, Richmond/Bowie, etc. I like the O’s just fine, but they were also one of the handful of teams that were identified last year to be pushing for this overhaul of the minors. More efficient maps will squeeze those on the fringe.

    Also, that MLB Draft/Showcase League setup sounds kind of nice for baseball fans. If I lived in Hagerstown or Morgantown, I’d be more excited than disappointed. How many future MLBers play on a low-level roster in a given year? Two or three, maybe, with only a few future all-stars per decade. And for neglected teams in the NY-Penn, there are some years where nobody is a future MLB player. But now, each team in the new league will have top-round prospects to watch in June. After the draft, it will probably be crummy-quality indy ball, but that’s when you roll out the bobbleheads and fireworks for the people who don’t really care about the baseball and just there for a good time. The numbers won’t work for every small market, but it’s better than slowly wilting until you’re the next Jamestown or Oneonta.

  31. Chin says:

    D’0h! Yeah, big goof on Augusta. Difficult to fit into either league. Putting back in the MAL likely means 6-12-12 at High A I guess, which just muddles things up even more.

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