Update on 2021 Minor League Baseball – Revision 8

I keep telling myself that I’m not going to make any more updates, but then I hear some piece of information that makes me want to guess more.

Today it was announced that some of the teams that aren’t making the 120 team cut would be included in the MLB Draft League.  This includes four NY-Penn League teams (Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes, West Virginia Black Bears, and Williamsport Crosscutters) and the Trenton Thunder from the AA Eastern League.  While I was thinking that maybe Trenton would be included in the High A Mid-Atlantic League, this confirms that they will not be.  And since Aberdeen wasn’t on this list, I suspect that means that they will remain in affiliated ball.  To complete the MLB Draft league, the best guess is that the Hagerstown Suns will be joining also to make six teams.

It was also announced that the Pioneer League would become an independent MLB partner league.  So really the term independent doesn’t apply anymore if they have a connection to MLB, but it sounds better than unaffiliated minor league.  The only change from the existing Pioneer League is that the Orem Owlz are moving to Windsor, CO to become the Northern Colorado Owlz.  Still disappointed with the z at the end of their name.

Since it’s being speculated that the A’s will be putting their High A team in Lansing with the Blue Jays staying in Vancouver, I figured I’d make some more updates to the Midwest League.  There’s additional speculation about the Astros going to Beloit and the Royals going to Quad Cities, so if you do that, the Rays would be in Kane County based on how I have it.  The Rays High A team has been difficult for me since they best belong in the Mid-Atlantic League, but there’s no obvious teams to move to the Midwest League since the Rangers and White Sox aren’t going anywhere.  Then again, maybe Bowling Green isn’t leaving the Midwest League and the Rays remain there and some other MWL team is getting cut instead of Chattanooga.

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
Nashville Sounds – Rangers Brewers? Move from Pacific Coast League?
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
Oklahoma City Dodgers – Dodgers
Omaha Storm Chasers – Royals
Reno Aces – Diamondbacks
Round Rock Express – Astros Rangers?
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 Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Aberdeen IronBirds? – Orioles
Asheville Tourists? – Marlins?
Brooklyn Cyclones – Mets

Carolina Mudcats – Brewers Move to South Atlantic League (Low A)?
Down East Wood Ducks – Rangers Move to South Atlantic League (Low A)?
Fayetteville Woodpeckers – Astros Move to South Atlantic League (Low A)?
Frederick Keys – Orioles
Fredericksburg Nationals (2019 Potomac Nationals) – Nationals
Greensboro Grasshoppers? – Pirates
Hickory Crawdads? – Rangers
Hudson Valley Renegades – Yankees
Jersey Shore BlueClaws? – Phillies
Lake County Captains? – Indians
Lynchburg Hillcats – Indians Move to South Atlantic League (Low A)?
Myrtle Beach Pelicans – Cubs Move to South Atlantic League (Low A)?
Salem Red Sox – Red Sox
Wilmington Blue Rocks – Royals Braves?
Winston-Salem Dash – White Sox

Midwest League (Low A) (High A)
Beloit Snappers – A’s Astros?
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 Rays?
Lake County Captains – Indians Move to Mid-Atlantic League?
Lansing Lugnuts – Blue Jays A’s?
Peoria Chiefs – Cardinals
Quad Cities River Bandits – Astros Royals?
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 Rockies?
Tri-City Dust Devils – Padres Angels?
Vancouver Canadians – Blue Jays

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 Move to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)?
Augusta GreenJackets – Giants Royals?
Carolina Mudcats? – Brewers
Charleston Riverdogs – Yankees Rays?
Columbia Fireflies – Mets Nationals?
Delmarva Shorebirds – Orioles
Down East Wood Ducks – Rangers
Fayetteville Woodpeckers – Astros
Greensboro Grasshoppers – Pirates Move to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)?
Greenville Drive – Red Sox
Hagerstown Suns – Nationals
Hickory Crawdads – Rangers Move to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)?
Jersey Shore BlueClaws – Phillies Move to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)?
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers – White Sox
Lexington Legends – Royals
Lynchburg Hillcats? – Indians
Myrtle Beach Pelicans? – Cubs

Rome Braves – Braves
West Virginia Power – Mariners

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

Staten Island Yankees
Tri-City ValleyCats
Vermont Lake Monsters
West Virginia Black Bears
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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79 Responses to Update on 2021 Minor League Baseball – Revision 8

  1. Justin says:

    Looks like MLB has given Fresno an extension to determine the fate of the franchise


    I mean there’s never been a question of keeping pro ball in Fresno as far as I can tell, just at what level that team would be. It seems like Fresno is trying to find some way of staying in Triple-A but I’m just not sure how that happens with Sugar Land, St. Paul, and Jacksonville coming into Triple-A unless another Triple-A team drops to another classification. Could Reichard’s “plot twist” about Nashville be that they’d move down to the Southern League? If so, that would leave the SL looking like this:

    Rocket City

    It’d result in Bowling Green having to stay in the MWL, and I’ve already contorted my brain enough trying to figure out how it would work.

  2. Skokiejoe says:

    Twins confirmed your guesses.

  3. Al says:

    I’m guessing Skokie is referencing a Star Tribune report with a hard paywall. But the headline says we should expect St. Paul and Wichita.

    Guess that means Wichita will not be a part of the “interesting twist” at Triple-A. I thought there was at least a chance Texas would stay with Nashville and the Express would get demoted instead of Wichita.

  4. Justin says:

    Al – per the article they expect Minnesota’s farm system to be:

    AAA – St. Paul
    AA – Wichita
    Adv. A – Cedar Rapids
    A – Fort Myers

  5. Al says:

    Thanks Justin. Lots of “sources” have been saying the same for weeks, but I don’t think the Twins actually confirmed it.

    Interesting thought about Nashville by the way. If you go back in time far enough they were an old SL team. Not sure what would prompt it at this time though. They would save money on travel I guess. Or maybe steeling out of the spotlight to pave the way for MLB expansion?

    Fresno is nuts trying to fight for Triple-A. I’d love to be fly on the wall for those reported meetings at Fresno city hall. I mean…are they calling all 30 MLB teams and begging them to take the Grizzlies? It’s absurd.

    Mike has been gracious enough to let us dump our soon-to-proven wrong theories here, so I’ll take a stab at the “interesting twist.” Nashville stays with Rangers, Round Rock is demoted to the TL with Wichita and San Antonio, the M-Braves are shuffled over to give the TL 12 teams, something happens in the Southern League that I can’t explain and the end result is Bowling Green to Double-A and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to Triple-A as Brewers affiliate.

    Or like Chin said the other day: “I think he’s just messing with us now.”

  6. Thomas A Mills says:

    Could Fresno be lobbying to be AAA for someone like Dodgers, and then OK City goes to AA, (and other trickle downs).?

  7. Al says:

    Not OKC. The Dodgers own that franchise and have an Oklahoma colony set up with Tulsa. It’s possible that Fresno could pledge enough money for upgrades to sway some random MLB team, but there are very few unattached teams at Triple-A, and most are too far from Fresno to make taxi-squadding and last minute callups practical.

    The Grizzlies had a great thing going with the Giants for all those years, but SF and Sacramento are now rock solid. The A’s seem happy with their setup. New facility and with direct flights, it’s probably quicker to get players from Vegas to Oakland than Fresno to Oakland. Maybe the Padres? But they seem happy with the Amarillo-El Paso setup.

  8. Chin says:

    Yeah, I was thinking the Padres-Fresno, too. I remember during the last shuffle that they didn’t want to end up in Amarillo because they were already in a high elevation environment in El Paso. If they still feel that way, Fresno would be a fix (could double up and go back to San Antonio for AA, too). But there would have to be a significant amount of dominoes to fall after that. El Paso to AA to open a slot back up for Fresno at AAA? They you’ve got an odd number of teams in the Texas League. So kick Arkansas over to the Southern League. But then what happens there? Etc. etc. etc. And like A1 said, the Padres seem to like it in both places.

    I think Fresno is just asking for time so the team and city can renegotiate lease terms.

    I did see someone on another forum propose the Braves as the “mystery team” for Nashville, with Gwinnett dropping to High A. But given the already-expansive MAL, I’m not sure how they fit there. Could’ve/would’ve made more sense when we were still working under the four High-A leagues model. But that does lead to some fun scenarios, like the mentioned Brewers bumping Wisconsin to AAA. Or the new stadium in Beloit? Or maybe the Cubs make a surprising move and drop Iowa for nearby Kane County (or South Bend or Fort Wayne), and the Brewers end up in Iowa.

  9. Justin says:

    This is all just pure speculation with not even a hint of any potential happening, but in regards to the expansion idea Al floated upthread, I wonder if Las Vegas Ballpark was designed to be expanded? In part I’m thinking back to when the Charlotte Knights played in The Castle which was designed to be expanded into an MLB-sized/caliber park should Charlotte have gotten an MLB team. Vegas now has 2 out of the Big 4 with the Golden Knights and Raiders. I wonder if MLB would want a slice of that pie – if so that takes Vegas off the board in the PCL and puts the A’s in need of a new Triple-A affiliate. Could that be the center of the negotiations? “OK Fresno, deal with being in the Cal League for a couple seasons and then when we expand into Vegas and you can try to entice either the Vegas MLB team or Oakland to affiliate with you as their AAA team?”

  10. Al says:

    Justin, that is an interesting theory. I don’t remember hearing anything about future MLB expansion when the Aviators’ park was built a few years back. I know it’s in the burbs though, and if LV got an MLB team it would probably mean a new park in the city proper. In which case I’d peg the Aviators as a farm club for Las Vegas. I feel the same way about Nashville too. The Sounds would just be a farm club for the Stars.

    I sometimes hear arguments about competing attendance, but I think that’s overblown. Most money comes from TV deals anyway, and schedules can be set up for alternate home dates to a certain degree. If you look at teams like the Jays, Cardinals, Braves etc. they have such a huge regional fan base built up over the years. Setups like the Twins/Saints only builds that sort of fandom over time and exceeds any attendance competition. I think that’s going to be an increasing trend in the new system. The Padres probably still want their team in Escondido. Brewers would probably be happy with Triple-A in Wisconsin, etc.

  11. Chin says:

    That’s interesting, Justin. I think Richmond will be one of the AAA adds when MLB expands, but at least one more will be needed. And Vegas, Nashville, Charlotte to MLB would all likely require additional moves at that level. Fresno’s issue seems to be travel (not just for promotions, but just their regular schedule). I would think a smaller PCL plus a West Coast affiliate would help with the travel issue some, so maybe they’ll be more viable in the future. Package deal for Vegas? They get a MLB team, but are forced to take Fresno as their AAA team?

    Reporter from Cedar Rapids “unofficially last heard” Bowling Green, Burlington, Clinton and Kane County (Cougars losing money) are all out of the MWL. He’s also hearing Schaumburg may be getting a team(?!). Quad Cities was on the hit list but later removed. Peoria has “money problems”.




  12. Justin says:

    The ambiguity of “losing” Bowling Green intrigues me. Is that loss from them moving up to Double-A or is that Bowling Green going dark? I think the former is more likely than the latter (not being hugely familiar with Bowling Green’s facilities or fan support).

  13. Thomas A Mills says:

    I’ll say this much…. The Bowling Green Hot Rods have put out a lot of help wanted ads recently (within last 2 weeks) and been appointing new GM etc. They don’t act like a team that’s folding.

  14. Al says:

    That’s some interesting intrigue in the MWL. It certainly would make the High A puzzle fit well if the MWL can get down to twelve teams.

    I agree with Justin and Thomas that BG is more likely in the Southern League than going dark. Not the best news for Chattanooga unless we see something unexpected like the Texas or Eastern League cutting more teams.

    As for Schaumburg…I was surprised to see the Boomers’ stadium being used by the White Sox for their alternate training site this summer. They had to pick a local park so I don’t want to imply a match, but it does speak to the quality of the facility that a young team like Chicago would choose to put their top prospects there.

    But then we’re talking about five teams/franchises leaving their station in the MWL. The affiliate dance now has Peoria as expected to renew. Lansing is apparently safe. The only way I can see Schaumburg happening is if we see some sort of interesting twist like the Timber Rattlers leaving the MWL.

  15. Al says:

    Now that the thought has creeped in, maybe Bowling Green could be excluded. If the Reds are OK with Chattanooga, maybe the Hot Rods will be pushed out of the MWL for geographic reasons alone. Looking at a map of the Frontier League, there’s a whole cluster of teams very close to BG. I think we’re all expecting Lexington (and maybe the WV Power) to shift to the Frontier – maybe the Hot Rods go along with them?

  16. Chin says:

    Big updates on the Ballpark Digest tracker. No more intrigue at AAA: he’s got Brewers in Nashville and Rangers in Round Rock. No question marks. Just waiting on the final word from Fresno, but I’d guess Triple-A is good to go.

    Big changes for the Orioles (possibly BAD news for Bowie?), and their best buddies in DC could be Wilmington-bound (so Fred Nats to Low-A?).

    The future looks promising for Chattanooga, but not so much for Jackson…?

    I guess Spokane has been frustrating for him to track (“changes weekly”). Also, can anyone interpret this tweet Reichard sent to Slusser yesterday regarding the A’s/Jays & Lansing/Vancouver? https://twitter.com/ballparkdigest/status/1333818905530421249

  17. Al says:

    So much to process. Frederick getting a last-minute reprieve? Tri-City no longer with “Angels?” and seemingly vulnerable. Quad Cities with…Royals I think?

    Yeah looks like Jackson and Jacksonville leave SL to bring it to 8 teams. Bowling Green remains a mystery.

    FredNats and Delmarva at low A? I’ll have dust off the spreadsheet but I think that means some mystery team will be cut from the SAL or MAL.

    I saw that tweet too Chin. I was thinking the other teams were Beloit and Houston but that hardly seems worth mentioning right?

    Big announcement tomorrow?

  18. Chin says:

    Yeah, that’s all I could think of. Maybe the Astros were headed to Lansing at one point, and the A’s initially planned on staying in Beloit?

    All the other AL Central teams look set at High A, so yep, has to be the Royals in QC.

  19. Justin says:

    With regards to Chin’s “BAD news for Bowie” and Reichard’s double “??” for Bowie (which in most cases means he thinks the market is getting cut), I think it must relate to any/all uncertainty about Bowling Green. If Bowling Green doesn’t move up to Double-A, only 1 Double-A market needs to be contracted as things stand with Jacksonville moving up to and San Antonio and Wichita moving down from Triple-A. I think most would agree that Jackson’s the weakest sister of the remaining Double-A markets. Eliminating Jackson would leave a 12-team Eastern League, an 8-team Southern League, and a 10-team Texas League.

    If Bowling Green *does* move up to Double-A though, I think the question at play is which additional Double-A market gets the axe and what the league alignments look like. Bowling Green’s a much better fit for the Southern League and no Southern League market seems like an easy fit to the Eastern League. So I really don’t know here.

  20. Al says:

    I could be totally wrong but I think it’s an either/or with Bowling Green and Chattanooga. The whole BG promotion rumor came out last fall because the Reds wanted them at Double-A. But if they’ve truly come to terms with Chattanooga, I think that means either BG stays in the MWL or goes to the Frontier League. Leaning towards the latter these days.

    As for Bowie, Reichard seems to be hinting that Frederick will replace them at Double-A. If so, I think that means the Baysox are booted or would replace Delmarva at a lower level. Most likely booted.

  21. Chin says:

    Yeah, I read it as AA down to one last question mark in the Southern League, Chattanooga or Bowling Green, and now one in the Eastern League, Bowie or Frederick.

    Anyone else get the Ballpark Digest newsletter. This morning’s had this line: “…and yes, the league realignments were detailed weeks ago will happen.” He then links to the tracker and his write-up of the changes from November 2nd, both of which still have the four league format for High-A. Is he basically disputing BA’s report of three High-A leagues?

  22. Iron Horse says:

    What’s interesting is that Wilmington is now tentatively assigned to the Nationals in the Affiliate Dance. If that’s true, it means either they or Fredericksburg have to move to a different level. I’m assuming that one of the two moves down to the Low A South Atlantic League. This means a team Mike has assigned to the SAL here would have to move up to High A in exchange. Wild guess, but perhaps Augusta or Rome? The Braves seem to like in-state affiliates, and they own Rome but do not currently own or affiliate with Augusta, since they’re both in the SAL. If the two Georgia teams are on separate levels, the Braves can have both as affiliates. This of course increases the geographic overlap between the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Leagues, which is not ideal from a travel perspective. Since Mike has Augusta affiliated with the Royals, KC can instead affiliate with Columbia, which would line up with the “Look to AL Central team” status for Columbia in the Affiliate Dance.

  23. Al says:

    Iron Horse, I totally agree. I think there’s a strong chance that Augusta and Atlanta link up. It might not matter which level they’re at, so the geographic edge might go to Rome at High-A.

    This is probably contradicting a lot of predictions (or speculation dumps) I’ve made over the past month or so, but if we’re looking at 12 teams in the MAL and 12 teams in the SAL, you basically have 23 teams competing for 24 spots. Then there could be an extra random team added into either league. If it were Chattanooga as we’ve discussed before, then Bowling Green could have a spot in the Southern League. It may even be possible for a Norwich or Lowell to sneak in to the MAL.

  24. Al says:

    Chin, to your earlier point about the Single-A league structure – now that we’re looking at potentially 12 teams in the MAL with a clear north/south divisional structure, we might just see the Carolina League label applied to the six-team south and the MAL put on the north.

    BA is a much more reliable source than Ballpark Digest generally, but I could see how MLB has changed their mind so much that we might end up with something closer to the old plan.


    MAL (6 team) Aberdeen, Brooklyn, Hudson Valley, Jersey Shore, Norwich, Wilmington
    CL (6 team) Asheville, Greensboro, Greenville, Hickory, Rome, Winston-Salem

    Now that would be coming full circle!

    But we’ll see. It would be tough for JJ Cooper to be wrong about that – and cited by basically everyone – when he’s been so careful with news drops this fall.

  25. Justin says:

    I think Augusta is more likely for the CL than Rome, Al. Rome’s clear on the other side of Georgia (closer to the Alabama border). Augusta, at least, technically plays in South Carolina (in N. Augusta which is across the Savannah River and thus, in SC).

  26. Iron Horse says:

    If anyone’s interested, I made a Google map that has all the teams in their projected leagues and with their projected parents: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1X5z4XKdB_PUtcD9PeoOZaLXpKR2y1Gs4&usp=sharing

    My projections are nearly the same as those in Mike’s 11/30 update, with the following exceptions (which I do not claim to be authoritative):

    League Changes
    Boise Hawks (COL) to NWL (A+); Tri-City Dust Devils eliminated instead
    Chattanooga Lookouts (CIN) to SL (AA); Bowling Green Hot Rods eliminated instead
    Frederick Keys (BAL) to EL (AA); Bowie Baysox eliminated instead
    Fredericksburg Nationals (WSN) from MAL (A+) to SAL (A)
    Rome Braves (ATL) from SAL (A) to MAL (A+)

    Affiliation Changes
    Augusta GreenJackets to ATL instead of KCR
    Columbia Fireflies to KCR instead of WSN
    Spokane Indians to LAA instead of COL

  27. Al says:

    Justin, the reason I put Rome on there is because it makes sense for it to be in the same league as Greenville and Asheville, and I have both of those pegged for the CL in that example. I think the Augusta-Columbia-Charleston-Myrtle Beach quartet will be a division in whatever the name of these league is where they end up. If Rome stays in the SAL, but are separated from Asheville, Augusta, and (maybe) Greenville, then they would lose their three closest neighbors. Chattanooga could be a buddy if it shakes out that way.

    MLB’s ultimate goal with geographic consolidation is to reduce the total hours of travel time, so I think that cold hard mileage will take precedence over staying true to the name of the league. Another way to mix it might be to just have a 12-team MAL with a “North” and a “South” division.

    With all that being said, the announcements we’ve seen so far have been pretty conservative and maintain the status quo. So Rome will probably stay in the SAL just because inertia wins most of these debates.

    Iron Horse, that map is awesome! I’ve had the milb.com/tickets page as an open browser tab for like two months now. I like that one for selecting/deselecting teams for different scenarios, but you can’t really lay all the teams out like you have with this Google map, and they don’t have the three new additions in there yet. Thank you!

  28. Thomas A Mills says:

    This guy claims to know the Orioles final teams

    BREAKING: The Baltimore Orioles are revamping their minor league system for 2021. Gone is the Bowie Baysox their AA affiliate since 1989.

    AAA – Norfolk Tides
    AA – Frederick Keys
    A Advanced – Aberdeen IronBirds
    A – Delmarva Shorebirds

  29. Al says:

    Thomas, could you please link to the report?

    By the way, anyone else notice Ballpark Digest’s tweet that we won’t know the 120 until the 8th at the earliest? And this is the same day they said we would hear tomorrow. I need to start completely ignoring them, but I keep coming back for more.

  30. Thomas A Mills says:

    So take this for what it’s worth. It came from this guy’s Twitter

    Mike Stanton
    Just a guy who works in radio, digital media, writes about sports & tweets about whatever seems interesting.

    His FB page says his job is ;Sports Board Operator Supervisor at SiriusXM

    And his location is marked as DC/NOVA

    He has since deleted that Tweet,

  31. Mike McCann says:

    I definitely like the map too. Since I also try to see as many ballparks as I can, I have a big map on my wall with the teams labeled and I always go look at that to see where leagues would fall. It’s possible that most things have been figured out except a few interchangeable pieces (Fresno or Lancaster, Bowie or Frederick, Chattanooga or Bowling Green) and a number of Low A affiliates that we still can’t place without more data, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if there was another completely out of the blue change that none of us are talking about. I don’t know how to interpret data coming from other sources because it’s not obvious what is based on actual information and what they are speculating just as we are. The Dodgers to Spokane thing was posted on a newspaper site and then quickly removed and it’s not clear if anything that came out other than official press releases is set in stone, like Vancouver appearing to be definite with the A’s and now probably back to Blue Jays. But since we enjoy the speculation and have some others to discuss wild scenarios with, we keep doing it.

  32. Al says:

    Evan Drellich at the Athletic put up an article about the minor league situation. Lots of technical details – most things we already know. But there were two things that stood out to me. First is that it sounds like there will be at least a few minor league teams that decline their offer of a PDL.

    “Lots of nervous concern amongst those expecting to be offered a license,” one minor-league owner said. “It would not be Major League Baseball if there weren’t several items in that document that were just not livable. And at that point we’ll see how connected all of Minor League Baseball is, because if the 120 teams agree together that these three or four items, we can’t live with, then Major League Baseball will have to negotiate that. If a half dozen or a dozen teams say, ‘No, we can’t sign this,’ Major League Baseball will very happily say, ‘OK, next,’ and go to either some of the teams that are currently cut or even some additional independent league teams and offer them.”

    That could shake things up.

    Also interesting is that it sounds like PDLs are going to all be for ten years. So far we’ve heard that there will be multiple options (like 5 and 10) but I guess it’s all ten. That’s a long time and a crazy commitment for these teams. I assume the PDL will continue if the team is sold or relocated, cause we’ll probably see a lot of that this decade. I can see how many teams might see setups like the MLB Draft League or Pioneer League as being more cost effective.

    I’m going to miss the even-year PDC switcheroo season. That’s how I found Mike’s site back in 2012 when it was the only place I could find a list of PDCs. Now I guess there will be a big bonanza every decade.

  33. Chin says:

    Morning all. I missed a lot yesterday afternoon/evening (stupid work responsibilities, haha).

    Though I had never posted here before (I don’t believe), I also found Mike’s site during a previous affiliation shuffle. Thanks again Mike for letting us take over your comments section for this stuff. It seems there aren’t many of us who find this subject interesting, so it’s great to be able to share with some like-minded folks.

    I’ll always defer to Cooper first on this subject. And I haven’t seen him give the “extreme” date Reichard did. Likewise, I’ll take Cooper’s word on the the format of the leagues, though I have seen a few people question three or four High-A leagues. I do remember early on reading suggestions that the SAL would still exist in a large geographic footprint (with teams like Brooklyn and Hudson Valley joining the SAL in a division with Jersey Shore), so the MAL could certainly end up as two divisions that play almost like two separate leagues.

    Iron Horse, awesome map. Thank you for sharing! I actually have a paper map on a cork board and different colored push pins that I’ve been playing around with.

    A1, interesting article by Drellich. We know Fresno is holding things up, though Reichard tweeted at someone yesterday that Fresno wasn’t the only place causing a delay. Keith Law wrote yesterday that Boise’s facilities could be causing a hold-up as well, though I’ve noticed Ballpark Digest has the Rockies going back there currently. And it sounds like Tri-City (NY) and Norwich are still holding out hope (even as some teams in the region already know their fate), so still some intrigue there.

  34. Al says:

    Just want to say that I appreciate all of you guys for keeping this comments section going and echo the thanks to Mike for hosting it.

    I keep checking it to see if any of you heard any good leaks or rumors. Everything is so quiet right now.

    When the PBA expired in September, the word was “we may not even know until the new year.” So I kind of ignored the whole thing. But then when the Yankees leak came out and then all this other stuff came down the pike – I never thought I’d be sitting in early December desperately searching for scraps of twitter BS and tiny changes on Ballpark Digest.

    Hopefully we get something to chew on for the weekend. I was expecting that we would get an announcement about the Frontier League this week. It seems like MLB has wanted to roll out alternative placements for the 43 teams before announcing the 120. Should we guess how many teams are going to the Frontier? Looking at Iron Horse’s map, I’ll set the over/under at 7.

  35. Chin says:

    I’ve never really paid much attention to Indy baseball, but with the affiliated minors news pretty much dead right now, I’ve been taking a closer look this morning. I…have no idea.

    I’ll defer to Ballpark Digest with Vermont going to the Frontier. I’ll take the under, I think they add five former affiliated teams (though I have no idea). But I have two potential adds here, depending on what happens with Southern and MWL.

    I’m going to give four to the Atlantic League, though I’m on the fence about adding one of the former affiliated teams or them going with that no-home Road Warriors team. One of the four on my list is a former MiLB city, but not one losing a team due to this current reconfiguration.

    The American Association is tougher to pinpoint. I don’t know if they do anything right now.

    Kane County is in a weird spot if they get dropped. Both the Frontier and AA are pretty congested in that region. I’ll add them to a few cities that have awkward placement, Jackson and Port Charlotte, for a potential Indy add.

    But again, I have no idea. Does the Atlantic League want to add right now? I dunno.

  36. Al says:

    It’s weird – I never paid much attention to indy ball either. Right now it feels like the divisions between affiliated and indy are less than ever. But over time it seems that affiliated ball will move more in the direction of a developmental system that focuses on players first. More money for clubhouses, less for promotions.

    I think Lexington is a shoe-in for the Frontier. They hinted at it this summer with their “Battle of the Bourbon Trail” series. I also think the Power are headed there and maybe Bowling Green if everything falls apart for them. Jackson could fit either the FL or the American Association and I guess you could say the same for Chattanooga if they leave the SL.

    Burlington and Clinton are better geographic fits for the AA, but I’m not sure those markets can support indy ball. The Northwoods League may be a better fit. If Kane County leaves the MWL, I think they land in either the FL or AA.

    Vermont looks like they could slot in to the old Can Am division and maybe Lowell, Norwich or Tri-City could join them. Batavia and Auburn…summer collegiate might be the best hope for baseball in the long term.

    The Atlantic League might be a good fit for teams in the mid-Atlantic region and they’re invested in North Carolina now. Tricky thing with the AL is that they play a longer season, so for any colder weather teams, it might be a lot of money lost paying players in the spring. Tri-City could possibly support it, but it’s telling that both Trenton and Staten Island have rejected the Atlantic League option.

    If Port Charlotte loses their affiliation, that could be a team that just dissolves. It would be odd for an indy team to share the Rays’ complex with the GCL. Daytona is a tough team to place if they don’t make the cut – not many good options in Florida. Before we knew Jacksonville would be promoted, I thought they could fit in the Southern League if they get all that city money for upgrades. But I’d say it’s FSL or Atlantic League for the Tortugas.

  37. Chin says:

    Yep, definitely speaks to my unfamiliarity with Indy Leagues, I had no idea about the schedule length for the Atlantic League. I had Connecticutt (Norwich) and Tri-City land there, weather would certainly be an issue. They did have a team in New Britain until recently; was weather an issue there? Or was it being so close to Hartford that caused them to fold? I also have Pawtucket as a potential add to the league. I suppose all could fit into the Frontier as well.

    As for the Frontier, I also had Lexington and West Virginia there, a nice regional grouping there with Florence and maybe Washington, PA. Bowling Green also fits nicely with that group. And BG also fits with the teams in Southern Indiana and Illinois, as does Jackson. I could also see Lowell and Auburn end up there. The Frontier League sure seems like they’re set to benefit more than the others.

    I do think Batavia, Burlington and Clinton end up in a college wood bat circuit.

    I agree on Port Charlotte. There’s plenty of baseball in that region, no reason to worry about replacing them if it comes to that. I do think Daytona is safe, in the FSL.

  38. Justin says:

    Not sure when he last updated but Reichard agrees with Mike on Asheville affiliating with the Marlins. That would definitely mean they’d have to move up to High-A

  39. Al says:

    Chin – good call on Pawtucket. After the Worcester announcement (which feels like ages ago) the Atlantic League presented their bid to the city and seemed to be the most likely destination for a team at McCoy Stadium. It seems to be a likely option still. The cold weather factor is more an economic question. The PawSox were able to maintain suitable playing/field conditions in the spring for all those years at Triple-A. But a new indy team in Pawtucket is going to have to pay the players and will probably see a reduction in fan interest and attendance after losing the Red Sox. (Seems obvious, but I say “probably” because teams like the Savannah Bananas have shown how a team can be more successful after dropping out of the affiliated ranks.) But the greater Pawtucket/Providence area can probably support an independent baseball team just fine.

    With New Britain, the Yard Goats were probably a factor, but also they seemed to do a poor job of marketing the Bees identity. Maybe their budgets were just strained to the point where fans start to drop off and it creates a vicious cycle. Teams like Lowell and Norwich are probably worried about that sort of thing. At least an option like the Draft League provides some security.

    Justin – yeah, it seems like the “Mid-Atlantic League” will have about half of their teams based in the area we are used to being the southwest portion of the Sally League. If there are twelve MAL teams, I think there’s a good chance that they split it and preserve the “Carolina League” but with teams like Asheville, Hickory, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, maybe Greenville for the Red Sox and Rome or Augusta for the Braves. I think Chin was the first to suggest Rome jumps to High A, and I agree that makes the most sense geographically – but only if Greenville is also promoted.

  40. Chin says:

    FINALLY: https://twitter.com/jjcoop36/status/1336122845995429893

    (Cooper is hearing Wednesday could be the day the 120 find out they’re officially in)

  41. Al says:

    It will be very interesting to watch this process unfold. The 120 teams will get the invites on Wednesday, though no word yet on how long they will have to review the agreement and accept the invite. So it seems like we won’t be getting a public announcement of the 120 for another period of time after Wednesday morning. But…this seems likely to go public in pieces, like the press leaks we’ve seen so far. Maybe individual MiLB teams will announce the invite acceptance themselves, one by one. Just crazy that we’re at this point of chaos.

  42. Justin says:

    …and Reichard calls an audible. He now has Asheville with Houston. No idea if they’d be Low-A or High-A. Previously he had the ‘Stros affiliating with a MWL team for High-A which would mean Fayetteville would drop down to Low-A, but this could kind of go either way

  43. Al says:

    Wow. This guy has led us in all sorts of directions. We never would have suspected Asheville to Miami if his list hadn’t been so sure about it. Now we’ve got Houston/Asheville and Miami/Beloit? Hard to believe anything Reichard says at this point. Can we just get the announcement already?

    As Justin said, it’s hard to know if this means Asheville stays low A. If they do, that would probably assure that Rome and Greenville stay where they are as well. Maybe Hickory also, because if Fayetteville is at high A, it would make Down East more likely as well. The Mudcats need to be at Low A though. Maybe it’s just a switch in parent clubs and nothing more.

    Still seems likely that Myrtle Beach and Columbia are at Low A. Can we assume the same for Charleston? Augusta?

  44. Justin says:

    Al – with regards to those clubs here are my quick thoughts:

    Augusta – If only one of the Georgia (or nominally Georgia) teams moves up, I still think it ends up being Augusta rather than Rome. First and foremost I think geography is in Augusta’s favor since they’re closer to the markets that look to move up to the MAL than Rome is – again, Rome is in NW Georgia fairly close to the borders with Alabama and Tennessee. Second, SRP Park is a newer, nicer facility than State Mutual Stadium. If part of this process is to ensure nicer facilities for players, in my mind it makes sense for Augusta to get the nod over Rome there.

    Charleston – If the Rays affiliation rumors are true and Reichard’s current projection that Bowling Green ends up staying in the MWL are true (and again we see how quickly his projections can change) I think Charleston stays Low-A and that Bowling Green slots in as Tampa Bay’s High-A affiliate and that Charlotte goes dark.

  45. Chin says:

    Geez. I don’t know what to say. Given he ‘question marked’ so many teams/cities, the lack of one with the Marlins in Asheville made him seem pretty confident in that move.

    SAL: Augusta (Braves), Carolina (Brewers), Charleston (Rays), Columbia (Royals), Delmarva (Orioles), Down East (Rangers), Fayetteville (Astros), Fredericksburg (Nationals), Kannapolis (White Sox), Lynchburg (Indians), Myrtle Beach (Cubs), Salem (Red Sox)

    MAL South: Asheville (Astros), Greensboro (Pirates), Greenville (Red Sox), Hickory (Rangers), Rome (Braves), Winston-Salem (White Sox)

    MAL North: Aberdeen (Orioles), Brooklyn (Mets), Hudson Valley (Yankees), Jersey Shore (Phillies), Lake County (Indians), Wilmington (Nationals)

    Taking Mike’s idea of Lake County in the MAL rather than the MWL. That allows for Bowling Green (still a Rays affiliate?) to stay in the MWL with Chattanooga back in the Southern, while dropping Burlington, Clinton and Kane County.

  46. Chin says:

    Going over the BD tracker again, it looks like these are updates as well:

    Diamondbacks? in San Antonio

    Rays? back in Bowling Green

    Royals in Columbia

    I *think* the future team column was blank for all those earlier. I think those were all sites we assumed would turn out that way anyway, especially SA and Columbia.

  47. Skokiejoe says:

    SAL would be need to be broken down into two groups of 6 teams to minimize travel:

    South: Augusta (Braves) Charleston (Rays) Columbia (Royals),
    Fayetteville (Astros) Kannapolis (White Sox) Myrtle Beach (Cubs)

    Mid South Delmarva (Orioles), Down East (Rangers), Fredericksburg (Nationals), Lynchburg (Indians) Salem (Red Sox) Carolina(Brewers)

    Also Lake County does not work geographically way too far from the other teams.

  48. Al says:

    JJ Cooper put up a nice explainer at BA today. There’s a paywall but I’ve been renewing that dang subscription since he teased the Somerset news back in June.

    Here’s a few key points that stood out:

    “The actual Professional Development Licenses (PDLs) that will govern the agreement between MLB and minor league teams have not yet been sent and will not come with the invitations. They are expected to be distributed in the next couple of weeks. The licenses and likely many appendices will spell out all the many details on travel, sponsorships, costs, facilities, length of terms and franchise valuations. That will be vital to MiLB teams making their decisions on whether they sign a PDL, attempt to negotiate to change some terms, or decline.”

    “Until those licenses are received, any team that announces it is accepting an invitation to join MLB’s system is doing so without knowing what’s included in the license agreement.”

    “But expect tomorrow to more commonly hear announcements from MiLB teams that will signify they are excited to have received an invitation, but they haven’t yet signed any license because they have yet to receive a license to peruse and potentially sign.”

    “MLB is not intending to make any public announcement about the league structure or any other details until it has all 120 signed PDLs. The MLB memo says it does not anticipate that announcement coming until late January or early February.”

  49. Chin says:

    Okay, so…

    -The 120 invites go out tomorrow

    -Upon receipt, each MiLB team can publicly acknowledge

    -Once all 120 invites have been sent out (and presumably accepted), only then can MLB teams announce their affiliates, including classification — when MLB gives the go-ahead

    -MLB won’t make final announcement or disclose league classifications and structures
    until all licenses have been have been signed, weeks/months from now

    If I’m reading this all correctly…

  50. Al says:

    That third point is a little confusing. The wording is a little vague.

    “The timetable for how long it will take to get from the invitations to the final announcements over the structure of the minors and schedules for 2021 is not certain. MLB sent a memo to its 30 organizations telling them that once MLB gives the all-clear after notifying the 120 invited clubs, each MLB team will be allowed to announce which minor league teams it is selecting as its four affiliates and the level of play at which each will be slated to play.”

    I don’t know if he means the all-clear comes after the invites or after the PDL process is finalized. And even though MLB teams are “selecting” their affiliates, it’s not official until the PDL is signed. I think it’s safe to say that there will be a handful of minor league teams that won’t be able to accept the invite until they read the PDL. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few reject the invite if the financials don’t work out. MLB may need a bunch of contingency scenarios if there are more rejections than expected.

    I guess we’ll know tomorrow if we see a bunch of individual announcements.

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