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Correct. Unless something else changes, it's looking like Eastern League stays at 12 teams (Somerset replaces Trenton), Southern drops to 8 and Texas goes to 10

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https://www.milb.com/williamsport/news/williamsport-crosscutters-continue-affiliation-with-major-league-baseball-in-new

 

New "MLB Draft League" running late-May to mid-August, 68-game schedule w/ All-Star break around the July draft

Mahoning Valley Scrappers
State College Spikes
Trenton Thunder
West Virginia Black Bears

Williamsport Crosscutters

 

A 6th team will be added soon and it's expected to be the Hagerstown Suns

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Looks like the Pioneer League is going to be a Partner League as well, though it looks like the Orem Owlz are moving to Colorado after all—just Northern Colorado, not Pueblo.

 

https://www.mlb.com/amp/press-release/press-release-pioneer-league-designated-mlb-partner-league.html

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3 hours ago, BigEd76 said:

New "MLB Draft League" running late-May to mid-August, 68-game schedule w/ All-Star break around the July draft

Mahoning Valley Scrappers
State College Spikes
Trenton Thunder
West Virginia Black Bears

Williamsport Crosscutters

 

A 6th team will be added soon and it's expected to be the Hagerstown Suns


Major League Baseball officials initially envisioned the MLB Draft League as being larger than a six-team circuit, They were, in fact, looking at a two-division set-up with a northern division comprised of teams from New England and New York.

A friend and former colleague based in Western Massachusetts has told me that he knows for a fact that the Futures Collegiate Baseball League's Pittsfield Suns were approached by MLB officials regarding making the jump from the FCBL to the MLB Draft League. A friend who lives in Norwell, Massachusetts and owns a company that has done business with a the FCBL's Brockton Rox informed me that said team was also contacted by MLB suits about shifting to the MLB Draft League. I've heard rumors that teams in the FCBL, the New England Collegiate Baseball League, and the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League have all been approached by MLB about abandoning their current leagues for a spot in the MLB Draft League.

It isn't bad enough that Rob Manfred-and-Company have unilaterally and heavy-handedly gone about the complete reorganization of affiliated minor league baseball and sought to exert more influence over independent minor organizations like the American Association and Frontier League via the bestowing of "Partner League" status on such circuits, they're now apparently willing to stoop to the level of poaching teams from collegiate summer baseball leagues in order to realize their vision for MLB's player development system.         

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45 minutes ago, Brian in Boston said:


Major League Baseball officials initially envisioned the MLB Draft League as being larger than a six-team circuit, They were, in fact, looking at a two-division set-up with a northern division comprised of teams from New England and New York.

A friend and former colleague based in Western Massachusetts has told me that he knows for a fact that the Futures Collegiate Baseball League's Pittsfield Suns were approached by MLB officials regarding making the jump from the FCBL to the MLB Draft League. A friend who lives in Norwell, Massachusetts and owns a company that has done business with a the FCBL's Brockton Rox informed me that said team was also contacted by MLB suits about shifting to the MLB Draft League. I've heard rumors that teams in the FCBL, the New England Collegiate Baseball League, and the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League have all been approached by MLB about abandoning their current leagues for a spot in the MLB Draft League.

It isn't bad enough that Rob Manfred-and-Company have unilaterally and heavy-handedly gone about the complete reorganization of affiliated minor league baseball and sought to exert more influence over independent minor organizations like the American Association and Frontier League via the bestowing of "Partner League" status on such circuits, they're now apparently willing to stoop to the level of poaching teams from collegiate summer baseball leagues in order to realize their vision for MLB's player development system.         

I wonder how hard hit the Northwoods League will be as a result of moves such as this. Players may be reluctant to play in the non-MLB versions of these leagues.

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On 11/24/2020 at 1:38 PM, Brian in Boston said:

 Hillsboro's Ron Tonkin Field is currently the class of the NWL when it comes to such amenities... and it's on par with Midwest League stadia that are in danger of not making the cut.               

 

Brian, as usual, your analysis is spot on in this thread. 

 

I used to live just a few miles from Ron Tonkin Field, a municipally owned stadium that's charming, but limited in its scale. Five years ago, in the midst of another year of sell-out crowds, General Manager K.L. Wombacher was asked by the Portland Business Journal what was keeping the club from advancing beyond the short-season Single A level. I put the first sentence of his response in bold: 
 

Quote

You’d need to make the stadium bigger. We’re working on some concepts now. Some of it’s in the premium seats, and we’d have to work through the city. Part of our goal is to keep the experience intimate but if demand pushes us to grow, we want to be ready. In terms of the higher classification, you’d have to get another franchise. Every franchise is owned independently. The only league that could work geographically is Triple-A.

 

Clearly, Major League Baseball is forcing the issue with the latter half of those concerns. And perhaps it's forcing a change in the way of thinking about what services/facilities/amenities/etc. are required at the high A level. Even so, even the Hops' GM thought the stadium was inadequate at one point. And now they could soon find themselves with a higher affiliation than longtime AAA stalwart Fresno. 

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On 11/23/2020 at 11:06 AM, Brian in Boston said:

"While lip service will be paid to the Dodgers moving out of a high-elevation and high-scoring environment and how it affects the subsequent development of players, the real key here is ownership. The Isotopes are currently owned by Albuquerque Baseball Club LLC, while the reported deal with Oklahoma City involves a team being sold and, though the new ownership hasn't yet been revealed, don't be surprised if the Dodgers are a part of it." 

- Eric Stephen, Yahoo!Sports, 8/22/2014
 

"The owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers have reached an agreement to buy a stake in the Oklahoma City RedHawks, and the team will change its Triple-A affiliation to Oklahoma City next year. The agreement announced Wednesday is part of a partnership in which Peter Guber will be executive chairman and managing director of the RedHawks, and partners Paul Schaeffer and Larry Freedman will manage the company's operations. The trio have held similar roles as principals with Mandalay Baseball Properties LLC."

- Associated Press, 9/17/2014

"When [Mandalay Baseball Properties] were selling the team and came to us where [the Dodgers] could own our Triple-A affiliate in a spectacular major league market, which is what Oklahoma City is now, that was too good an opportunity to pass up. This is a vibrant market we couldn't pass up."

- Peter Guber, 9/17/2014


After Peter Guber joined the Guggenheim Baseball Management bid to purchase the Dodgers in 2012, it dawned on the parties involved that it made sense for the Dodgers to establish a minor league affiliation with the Oklahoma City RedHawks, a Triple A team that Mandalay Baseball Properties - of which Guber was a principal - owned. After all, why maintain an affiliation with an independently-owned ball club like the Albuquerque Isotopes when you could bring ownership of your top tier minor league team in-house? Which is why in September of 2014 - as existing affiliation agreements between the Dodgers and Albuquerque Isotopes, as well as the Texas Rangers and RedHawks, were set to expire - Guber, Paul Schaeffer, and Larry Freedman of Mandalay Baseball Properties entered into an agreement to create a new ownership group for the Pacific Coast League franchise in partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The RedHawks were subsequently rebranded as the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

 

This whole scenario makes me think of the current and pending Twins/St. Paul Saints scenario.

 

I was listening to a podcast recently on this subject where the lingering question was this: Why would the Saints do this? They've carved out a reputation as the standard-bearer for running a quality independent baseball franchise. They already have no trouble selling tickets and filling up their beautiful new stadium. They have laughably inexpensive payroll as an independent club. And becoming a AAA affiliate will reportedly cost ownership $20 million, a fee that I'd guess will be picked up in part or in whole by the Twins. 

 

The benefits to the Twins, by contrast, would be significant. The convenience of working with your rehabbing stars or top prospects via a 10-minute drive rather than a three-hour plane ride alone is worth it. 

 

In other words, the Saints don't need this affiliation nearly as much as the Twins do. Which leads me to this hair-brained theory: The Twins are working out a deal to acquire the Saints, either in whole or as a minority investor. 

 

All supposition of course. Just the result of trying to rationalize why the Saints would even want this.  

 

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10 hours ago, gosioux76 said:

 

This whole scenario makes me think of the current and pending Twins/St. Paul Saints scenario.

 

I was listening to a podcast recently on this subject where the lingering question was this: Why would the Saints do this? They've carved out a reputation as the standard-bearer for running a quality independent baseball franchise. They already have no trouble selling tickets and filling up their beautiful new stadium. They have laughably inexpensive payroll as an independent club. And becoming a AAA affiliate will reportedly cost ownership $20 million, a fee that I'd guess will be picked up in part or in whole by the Twins. 

 

The benefits to the Twins, by contrast, would be significant. The convenience of working with your rehabbing stars or top prospects via a 10-minute drive rather than a three-hour plane ride alone is worth it. 

 

In other words, the Saints don't need this affiliation nearly as much as the Twins do. Which leads me to this hair-brained theory: The Twins are working out a deal to acquire the Saints, either in whole or as a minority investor. 

 

All supposition of course. Just the result of trying to rationalize why the Saints would even want this.  

 

 

I think if it was a normal year they wouldn't do something like this.  The Pandemic may have changed things for them and other Independent baseball teams.  

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6 hours ago, GDAWG said:

 

I think if it was a normal year they wouldn't do something like this.  The Pandemic may have changed things for them and other Independent baseball teams.  

 

I just read another analysis that suggested the Twins/Saints partnership could be about franchise valuation. That becoming an affiliated minor league franchise can increase the club's value by as much as 75%. It could also lead to shared marketing capabilities that produce more lucrative sponsorship opportunities for both clubs. Those are the sorts of (pardon the pun) inside baseball business deals that I fail to consider. 

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I also have a personal wish that one of the FSL teams owned by MLB parents (in my mind Dunedin or Palm Beach) could fall on the sword to save Daytona.  Theyre such a great draw for that market and if they are dissolved, there isn't really another league that could step in.

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10 hours ago, BigEd76 said:

 

What Wichita did:
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"The Class AA affiliate will switch from Pensacola, Fla., to Wichita. According to the Wichita Eagle, the announcement will be met with disappointment in a city that raised taxes to help pay for $75 million Riverfront Stadium to try and lure a Class AAA team. But the Wind Surge will leave the Pacific Coast League without ever having played a AAA game — it was based in New Orleans before 2020, and the past minor league season was wiped out by the pandemic.

Wichita hasn’t had a Class AAA team for nearly 40 years."

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I guess this is the best place to ask, but are their really people who live in these towns that would pay to go to a AAA game vs a lower level game?  I guess if I were in cities like Fresno and Wichita id be miffed about the change of league level, but its still affiliated baseball and you can still operate the same on a promotional level. Heck, your travel budget got slashed by dropping out of AAA.

 

I guess thats just my mindset of working in MILB front offices before and seeing success, no matter the level of play on the field.

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For a lot of teams, isn't AA where most of the top prospects spend most of their time, with AAA being more where they play for just a short time before being called up, or even more of a "AAAA"-type team for middling guys that are on the 40-man but no longer prospects?

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New reports from the Bay Area say the Athletics won't be getting Vancouver after all. Looks like they'll be staying with the Blue Jays and Oakland will get Lansing instead

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3 hours ago, TBGKon said:

I guess this is the best place to ask, but are their really people who live in these towns that would pay to go to a AAA game vs a lower level game?  I guess if I were in cities like Fresno and Wichita id be miffed about the change of league level, but its still affiliated baseball and you can still operate the same on a promotional level. Heck, your travel budget got slashed by dropping out of AAA.

 

I guess thats just my mindset of working in MILB front offices before and seeing success, no matter the level of play on the field.

I have been to Saints games and had a blast. Assuming they continue their promotions and in-game experience at a similar price, with slightly better baseball, I would still be inclined to go to a game a year, in addition to a Twins game or two.

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It's a cheaper option for the family than going to a pro game, and the kids won't know the difference in the players anyway. They're usually more interested in the mascot or a dog running on the field or getting food

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4 hours ago, BigEd76 said:

New reports from the Bay Area say the Athletics won't be getting Vancouver after all. Looks like they'll be staying with the Blue Jays and Oakland will get Lansing instead


I'm hearing that uncertainty over border restrictions tied to the COVID pandemic scotched the Oakland/Vancouver and Toronto/Lansing High A affiliation pairings.

The distribution of a COVID vaccine is going to take time. Most projections have the general public beginning to receive vaccinations by the second quarter of 2021 at the earliest... and that's if everything goes absolutely perfectly. There is simply no way to guarantee that personnel and players in the Athletics and Blue Jays organizations - particularly those involved with the teams' respective farm systems - are going to have received a COVID vaccination by the start of the Midwest League and Northwest League seasons. As such, the A's and Blue Jays are worried that if COVID-related restrictions remain in place on the Canada-U.S. border, and members of their respective organizations happen to test positive for the virus, said personnel/players could wind-up trapped away from home for an extended period of time.

Yes, proximity-wise Oakland/Vancouver and Toronto/Lansing affiliations at High A would have better aligned with Major League Baseball's desire to cut down on travel between MLB clubs and their farm teams. That said, with MLB now calling the shots, there's nothing preventing Rod Manfred-and-Company from putting the pressure on minor league owners in Vancouver and Lansing to acquiesce to allowing the Athletics and Blue Jays to swap High A affiliates whenever COVID-19 - and the pandemic-related concerns linked to it - have been put in the rearview mirror. Yes, much of what we've heard is that the Professional Development Licenses that MLB will offer to minor league team owners will cover a 10-year period. Still, so long as the minor league owners in question are guaranteed a Major League Baseball parent club, I don't see them putting up much of a stink about a change in parent club. With precious few exceptions, they've fallen in line thus far. What choice have the MLB suits given them?           

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6 minutes ago, BigEd76 said:

It's a cheaper option for the family than going to a pro game, and the kids won't know the difference in the players anyway. They're usually more interested in the mascot or a dog running on the field or getting food

 

Kids? Most of the adults don't know/don't care the difference in the players. I've worked in MiLB and independent baseball part-time on and off since 2012 - I'd imagine somewhere around 90% of people attending an MiLB/indy baseball game couldn't give a hoot if the team is A or AAA. The majority couldn't tell you what level the team was, maybe half can tell you what MLB team they're affiliated with, even fewer could tell you the MiLB team's relative position in the standings. I'm not saying this to complain or be elitist about who should be attending an MiLB game - any paying customer (well, almost) is a good paying customer. You've got your dozen or so dudes (almost always the exact same guys) with binders full of cards hounding for autos (unless a star player is there for a rehab assignment, it's much more), but otherwise it's:

  • families looking for cheap entertainment
  • Little League teams coming as a group
  • twentysomethings looking to get ripped on Thirsty Thursday and/or Instagram themselves
  • people using their company's free corporate tickets/suites
  • people just looking for something to do that evening

Those people don't care whether the team is A or AAA. Even your couple hundred season ticket holders would've still bought them no matter the level.

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