Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Store

Recent Blogs

Photo

AA and AAA

  • Please log in to reply
70 replies to this topic

#1 Shane Wahl

Shane Wahl

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,009 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 01:51 AM

I think there needs to be a discussion about what these two levels are and what they mean for the Twins organization. How many success stories have the been from AA-MLB promotions in the past 10-15-20 years? This is an important discussion because it affects our analysis of minor league promotions and of development in general. From what I gather from some people here is that AA is the true prospect ground an AAA is leftovers and retreads. That seems ridiculous to me, but I want to be educated either way about this.

#2 Jeremy Nygaard

Jeremy Nygaard

    Twins Database Manager

  • Twins Database Managers
  • 2,032 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 06:07 AM

I think there needs to be a discussion about what these two levels are and what they mean for the Twins organization.

How many success stories have the been from AA-MLB promotions in the past 10-15-20 years?

This is an important discussion because it affects our analysis of minor league promotions and of development in general.

From what I gather from some people here is that AA is the true prospect ground an AAA is leftovers and retreads.

That seems ridiculous to me, but I want to be educated either way about this.


The Harpers and Trouts (and Mauers)... the "elite" prospects, rarely reach AAA. If you're elite and prove you can get it done in AA, you're ready to take your lumps in the bigs.

Pitchers usually make a stop at AAA, but not always.

I think "ideally" you want AA to be full of prospects and AAA to be oranizational depth, but the Twins are currently short on high-level high-end prospects. (Sano is the type that would skip AAA.)

#3 IdahoPilgrim

IdahoPilgrim

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,423 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 07:14 AM

There has been a growing trend to make AA the jumping point for MLB, but it hasn't completely replaced AAA yet. Harper played in AAA this season before going up, although only for a few weeks (like Dozier, but with different results). Pitchers will almost always stop there first. AAA seems to be composed of 3 groups of players: 1) true prospects, although position players tend not to stay there long; 2) AAAA players, who are needed on the 40-man roster to provide injury coverage and need a place to play in the interim; 3) career minor leaguers, who will never play in MLB but are needed to make the AAA teams competitive (which is not unimportant for those who own those teams). Personally I would like to see AAA become more of a proving ground for prospects - if they can't succeed against AAAA players, then they aren't ready to play in MLB.

#4 Kirby_Waved_At_Me

Kirby_Waved_At_Me

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 608 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 08:11 AM

Some notable Twins that skipped AAA: John Castino (Rookie of the Year 1979) played AA in 1978, called up to the majors for next season Kent Hrbek, played in single A Visalia for a full season in 1981, then started 1982 with the Twins and stayed for good. Gary Gaetti, Played a full season at AA in 1981, joined Hrbek in 1982 with the Twins in 1982 Christian Guzman, went from AA in 1998 to the majors in 1999. Chuck Knoblauch, (rookie of the year) a full season at AA in 1990 then starting 2b with the Twins in 1991 at the age of 21. Joe Mauer, split 2003 with High A and AA, in the majors since (not including rehab stints) Pat Mears, played just 18 games at AAA before being called up for good in 1993 Paul Molitor, never played above single A in the minors - came up in 1978 with Milwaukee (did play for Twins' AAA affiliate in Salt Lake for a rehab assignment in 1996) Kirby Puckett, skipped AA and only played 21 games at AAA before being called up for good in 1984 Pitchers: Brad Radke, full season at AA in 1994, then Majors for good Johan Santana, jumped from A (rule V pick) in 2000, did spend a good chunk of 2002 at AAA Eric Milton, AA with the Yankees in 1997 - with the Twins in 1998 Kyle Lohse went from AA to AAA to the Majors in 2001 most games were with the Twins, fewest were in AAA Scott Erickson, AA in 1990, to the Twins in 1991 Notables that did not skip AAA: Morneau, Koskie, Hunter, Marty Cordova (rookie of the year 1995), Brian Harper, Brunansky (AAA with the Angels), AJ Pierzynski, Span, Delmon Young - Pitchers: Blyleven (7 starts in AAA in 1970, skipped AA), Viola (half of 1982 in AAA), Liriano (14 starts in AAA in 2005), Aguilera (AAA with Mets in 85 for half season), Baker, Tapani, Joe Nathan, Blackburn, Matt Garza (only 21 starts at AAA over two seasons)

#5 diehardtwinsfan

diehardtwinsfan

    Twins Moderator

  • Twins Moderators
  • 4,444 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 09:04 AM

The Twins routinely have used AAA to continue development. Yes, they will promote from AA if needed, but unless there's a huge gaping hole that the AA guy can fill, he's going to spend time in AAA.

#6 greengoblinrulz

greengoblinrulz

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,759 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 10:31 AM

pitchers definately still need to use AAA to refine....for the most part. Hitters do get called up from AA more frequently....most of those will eventually need more time, but not much more. Look at BDozier/Parmelee...this is how teams view players & AAA now....few ABs is all they need. I did a post a few wks back showing how many teams stack their rosters with the AAAA types & everyone does it. These arent the prospects anymore (not pitchers).

#7 Shane Wahl

Shane Wahl

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,009 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 10:43 AM

Thanks for the information. It definitely seems different for pitchers and position players. But compare Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee.

#8 Shane Wahl

Shane Wahl

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,009 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 10:46 AM

How about this: is the competition level higher/more like the majors at AA or AAA? An answer to that question seems important about what approach the Twins should have in developing players.

#9 greengoblinrulz

greengoblinrulz

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,759 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 10:58 AM

Plouffe was a little bit of a late bloomer....esp w/power. Parmellee/Benson/Dozier/Valencia/Revere all had very little or no AAA time before their debut This year we'll see Hicks/Hermann/Arcia in Sept straight up from AA also.

#10 Vervehound

Vervehound

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 226 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 11:04 AM

three-a is filled with prospects at the beginning of the year but, by the time the all star season comes around, all those guys are in the majors. look at anthony rizzo as an e.g. the twins have promoted everyone worth giving a shot to from rochester already so the leftovers are going to be the minor league free agent types.

#11 alarp33

alarp33

    Member

  • Members
  • 75 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 11:27 AM

Plouffe was a little bit of a late bloomer....esp w/power.
Parmellee/Benson/Dozier/Valencia/Revere all had very little or no AAA time before their debut
This year we'll see Hicks/Hermann/Arcia in Sept straight up from AA also.



I would be willing to bet theres 0 chance Arcia is promoted to the Twins this September. And its nearly as unlikely that Aaron Hicks will be promoted this year as well

Valencia had something like 300 AAA plate appearances before making his debut, he was also 25 or 26 years old. Arcia wont even have that many AA plate appearances by September, and just turned 21.

#12 Jeremy Nygaard

Jeremy Nygaard

    Twins Database Manager

  • Twins Database Managers
  • 2,032 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 12:09 PM

I would be willing to bet theres 0 chance Arcia is promoted to the Twins this September. And its nearly as unlikely that Aaron Hicks will be promoted this year as well

Valencia had something like 300 AAA plate appearances before making his debut, he was also 25 or 26 years old. Arcia wont even have that many AA plate appearances by September, and just turned 21.


The difference between Valencia and Arcia was that Valencia wasn't on the 40-man and Arcia already is. So despite being much younger, I think there is a pretty good chance Arcia comes up after his season is done.

Hicks needs to be added to the 40-man this offseason, so adding him in September wouldn't require much extra roster maneuvering as it wouldn't burn up an option year anyway.

I would like to see both come up just to see what the big leagues really is... get the nerves and adjustments out during games that aren't as important.

#13 jokin

jokin

    Twins News Team

  • Twins News Team
  • 6,792 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 12:28 PM

Some notable Twins that skipped AAA:

John Castino (Rookie of the Year 1979) played AA in 1978, called up to the majors for next season
Kent Hrbek, played in single A Visalia for a full season in 1981, then started 1982 with the Twins and stayed for good.
Gary Gaetti, Played a full season at AA in 1981, joined Hrbek in 1982 with the Twins in 1982
Christian Guzman, went from AA in 1998 to the majors in 1999.
Chuck Knoblauch, (rookie of the year) a full season at AA in 1990 then starting 2b with the Twins in 1991 at the age of 21.
Joe Mauer, split 2003 with High A and AA, in the majors since (not including rehab stints)
Pat Mears, played just 18 games at AAA before being called up for good in 1993
Paul Molitor, never played above single A in the minors - came up in 1978 with Milwaukee (did play for Twins' AAA affiliate in Salt Lake for a rehab assignment in 1996)
Kirby Puckett, skipped AA and only played 21 games at AAA before being called up for good in 1984

Pitchers:
Brad Radke, full season at AA in 1994, then Majors for good
Johan Santana, jumped from A (rule V pick) in 2000, did spend a good chunk of 2002 at AAA
Eric Milton, AA with the Yankees in 1997 - with the Twins in 1998
Kyle Lohse went from AA to AAA to the Majors in 2001 most games were with the Twins, fewest were in AAA
Scott Erickson, AA in 1990, to the Twins in 1991


Notables that did not skip AAA:
Morneau, Koskie, Hunter, Marty Cordova (rookie of the year 1995), Brian Harper, Brunansky (AAA with the Angels), AJ Pierzynski, Span, Delmon Young - Pitchers: Blyleven (7 starts in AAA in 1970, skipped AA), Viola (half of 1982 in AAA), Liriano (14 starts in AAA in 2005), Aguilera (AAA with Mets in 85 for half season), Baker, Tapani, Joe Nathan, Blackburn, Matt Garza (only 21 starts at AAA over two seasons)


Add Rod Carew to the skip list

#14 Curt

Curt

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 240 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 12:33 PM

Historically, most really good players are ready for major league competition early on. Middle-of-the-pack players often benefit from longer development and a stint at AAA. AAA used to be stocked with just those middle-of-the-pack prospects and a few washed-up or soon-to-be washed-up vets. AAA was the very definition of replacement level talent. Not sure how much has changed though fewer vets seem to stock the AAA teams (maybe due to higher earning levels) nowadays. There is, usually, nothing to be learned at AAA for players destined to star. What they need to learn can only be got at the major league level. I'm not sure about other teams but we don't see a lot of players jumping to the majors from A an AA with the Twins any longer. Maybe its a philosophy or maybe it is merely a reflection of the talent in the organization. Either way I don't think it is a good sign.

#15 alarp33

alarp33

    Member

  • Members
  • 75 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 01:16 PM

The difference between Valencia and Arcia was that Valencia wasn't on the 40-man and Arcia already is. So despite being much younger, I think there is a pretty good chance Arcia comes up after his season is done.

Hicks needs to be added to the 40-man this offseason, so adding him in September wouldn't require much extra roster maneuvering as it wouldn't burn up an option year anyway.

I would like to see both come up just to see what the big leagues really is... get the nerves and adjustments out during games that aren't as important.


Valencia was called up in June because they needed him to play 3rd base. I have never seen Arcia play, but I highly doubt they will want to rush him along and start his service clock in meaningless September games. Again, he will have very few AA plate appearances under his belt. Unless he starts dominating there, still saying 0 chance.

#16 Badsmerf

Badsmerf

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,614 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 01:48 PM

There is a jump IMO between the levels. It is a small jump, probably the closest of all the levels. AAA is filled with players on the verge of being MLB players. Some are putting in their time until they get called up, some are stuck there, and some are organizational fillers. Like has been said, AAA is for refining or working on a specific skill for players.

#17 Jeremy Nygaard

Jeremy Nygaard

    Twins Database Manager

  • Twins Database Managers
  • 2,032 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 01:58 PM

Valencia was called up in June because they needed him to play 3rd base. I have never seen Arcia play, but I highly doubt they will want to rush him along and start his service clock in meaningless September games. Again, he will have very few AA plate appearances under his belt. Unless he starts dominating there, still saying 0 chance.


Comparing Valencia to Arcia is apples and oranges. Valencia wasn't a September call-up because he wasn't on the 40-man roster.

A better comp would be Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee in 2011 - both in their first option years. They were brought up straight from New Britain. I doubt service time in those cases - or in Arcia's potential case - really mattered. Those 23 days in the case of Parmelee and Benson meant nothing since they both started this year in the minors.

Arcia is a more advanced hitter than either of those guys as well.

I'll put the chances of Arcia getting a post-AA season call-up at 60%. And put the over/under on MLB plate appearances at 55.

#18 alarp33

alarp33

    Member

  • Members
  • 75 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 02:15 PM

Comparing Valencia to Arcia is apples and oranges. Valencia wasn't a September call-up because he wasn't on the 40-man roster.

A better comp would be Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee in 2011 - both in their first option years. They were brought up straight from New Britain. I doubt service time in those cases - or in Arcia's potential case - really mattered. Those 23 days in the case of Parmelee and Benson meant nothing since they both started this year in the minors.

Arcia is a more advanced hitter than either of those guys as well.

I'll put the chances of Arcia getting a post-AA season call-up at 60%. And put the over/under on MLB plate appearances at 55.


We will see how it pans out, agree to disagree.

BTW, Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee had each played more than 210 games in AA before getting called up. They were also both 23 at the time.

#19 Shane Wahl

Shane Wahl

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,009 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 02:38 PM

So the question now is: is there value in promoting quicker out of AA to AAA to get at bats there instead of at the lower level. I can't believe that Revere's time spent in AAA didn't help him become the batter he is today. Wouldn't Parmelee benefit from at least a few hundred plate appearances there?

#20 diehardtwinsfan

diehardtwinsfan

    Twins Moderator

  • Twins Moderators
  • 4,444 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 04:17 PM

So the question now is: is there value in promoting quicker out of AA to AAA to get at bats there instead of at the lower level. I can't believe that Revere's time spent in AAA didn't help him become the batter he is today. Wouldn't Parmelee benefit from at least a few hundred plate appearances there?


Parmalee would benefit best by playing every day, and quite frankly I doubt anyone cares whether that's in AA, AAA, or MLB. I seem to remember reading a while back that the Twins did consider AAA to be development grounds. It's certainly a step that the Twins, or other teams for that matter, are willing to skip, but plenty of good prospects have spent time there and plenty more will continue to do so. A lot of that has to do with the fact that

1) the jump is not that big from AA to AAA and
2) there's an obvious need at the club, and the guy occupying the spot in AAA isn't the solution.

I have no doubt that the Twins would have been happy to give more development time to any of their AA guys as opposed to calling them up, but the circumstances dictated otherwise.

Also of note, I would not compare September callups to skipping AAA, especially since many end back up in AAA the next year. September callups follow a different pattern:

1) the guy is on the 40 man or is pretty much a lock to make it next season.
2) the team is largely out of it and wants to get a look at the kid in a lower pressure situation against advanced players or the team is in it and wants the kid to fill a niche role such as a pinch runner or hard thrower out of the pen.

#21 Shane Wahl

Shane Wahl

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,009 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 04:33 PM

I don't think there was any need whatsoever to do what the Twins did to Parmelee this year (and Tosoni last year). I do think it does matter where a player gets at bats. If he is overmatched in MLB, he isn't going to improve for quite awhile. If he has already performed well at AA and AAA is at least a bit more competitive/like MLB it would seem worthwhile to give him time in AAA! People seem to forget that Parmelee was NOT great in the minors before that callup in September. He was a good AA hitter. Now hopefully he can be at least a good AAA hitter for a bit (until September, or August if Morneau is traded at the deadline) and make adjustments so that he is actually ready.

#22 Badsmerf

Badsmerf

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,614 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 06:56 PM

I don't think there was any need whatsoever to do what the Twins did to Parmelee this year (and Tosoni last year). I do think it does matter where a player gets at bats. If he is overmatched in MLB, he isn't going to improve for quite awhile. If he has already performed well at AA and AAA is at least a bit more competitive/like MLB it would seem worthwhile to give him time in AAA! People seem to forget that Parmelee was NOT great in the minors before that callup in September. He was a good AA hitter. Now hopefully he can be at least a good AAA hitter for a bit (until September, or August if Morneau is traded at the deadline) and make adjustments so that he is actually ready.


Parmelee had his swing messed with to make more consistent contact. He had been adjusting to that swing and thus lost some power. I don't think I'd go as far to say he wasn't good, rather he was a work in progress. He has always had very good power potential and a good eye, and now he is making consistent contact too.

#23 greengoblinrulz

greengoblinrulz

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,759 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 09:08 PM

think Parmelee was very good last yr. He was forgotten about as he redid his swing but was a good average/rbi guy. Joe Benson returned to GCL today for a few days of rehab....when back, do the keep he, Hicks & Arcia together in New Brit...as the OF of the future. What do you do with Evan Bigby then.....definately deserves a promotion in his 3rd AA yr, but with Clete Thomas types in AAA, it makes the point of this thread.....only retreads in AAA.

#24 whydidnt

whydidnt

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 361 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 09:34 PM

When you are comparing AA and AAA, what I've always felt is that elite "talent", like Mauer, Puckett, Hrbek, etc, skip AAA and end up in the show, while guys that aren't at that level benefit from the experience of AAA. I don't really see a huge gap between hitter's and pitchers, but the Twins have lacked so much in pitching talent over the last decade it may seem like that. Sad to say but there really isn't anyone at AA right now that you'd consider elite (or AAA for that matter) so the Twins top minor leaguers, like Parmalee and Hendricks stand to gain form the additional seasoning at AAA. We just shouldn't count on those guys being anything more than run of the mill major leaguers.

#25 jorgenswest

jorgenswest

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,546 posts

Posted 05 July 2012 - 10:45 PM

The jump from AA to AAA is slight. The jump to the majors is huge. Many good players have had early struggles. Sometimes the solution is more time at AAA, but the level of play is not near major league. It is not possible for most players to arrive at the major league level "ready". Often the solution is to work through struggle. With their record, the Twins can afford to invest the plate appearances in Dozier. Parmelee needs playing time and so his development is stalled and playing at AAA is better than bench time in the majors. For hitters it may take 1000 major league plate appearances (hopefully before age 27) for an organization to determine their ability to contribute. This was a key year for Valencia to step up. He didnlt. Casilla has well over 1000 plate appearances. Both players are probably showing their potential. The Twins invested quite a few plate appearances into Revere and Plouffe starting last year before getting some return this year. Unless Doumit or Moreau are traded or come up injured, Parmelee's development at the major league level is blocked. This would have been an ideal year to invest bats in Parmelee.

#26 Oxtung

Oxtung

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,430 posts

Posted 06 July 2012 - 01:57 AM

Intriguing topic. I created a spreadsheet based on MLB.com's Top Prospect list. I looked at 2011 & 2012 prospects that have either made it to AAA or MLB (the only 2 years available). While the sample size is small it does give a more objective look at time spent at AAA. In the spreadsheet I did not include September call ups as MLB start dates unless the player started the following season on the MLB 25 man roster. Also keep in mind these are just the cream of the crop prospects (as defined by mlb.com). How other players progress through the minors may or may not follow this same pattern.

Hitters PA @ AAA:
[TABLE="width: 500"]
[TR]
[TD]On MLB rosters[/TD]
[TD]10[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]0 PA[/TD]
[TD]2 (Rosario, Simmons)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]<100[/TD]
[TD]4 (above + Trout, Harper)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]<200[/TD]
[TD]4 (above)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]<500[/TD]
[TD]8 (above + 4 others)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]>500[/TD]
[TD]71[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]


Pitchers IP @ AAA:
[TABLE="width: 500"]
[TR]
[TD]On MLB rosters[/TD]
[TD]9[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]0 IP[/TD]
[TD]12 (Pomeranz)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]<35[/TD]
[TD]3 (above + Parker, Friedrich)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]<70[/TD]
[TD]5 (above + Moore, Bauer)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]<140[/TD]
[TD]9 (above + 4 others)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]>140[/TD]
[TD]31[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

[1] Includes players not called up to MLB rosters yet.
[2] Was called up straight from AA to start the season having never pitched in AAA. Started for a couple of months before being sent down to AAA.



For hitters it seems either your team thinks you're ready for MLB straight out of AA (Trout, Harper, etc...) or you spend at least a year at AAA level. If you have a deficiency in a particular skill or you are blocked by players already at the MLB level you might spend up to 2 full seasons at AAA (Montero, Alonso, etc...).

For Pitchers they seem to be called up as needs arise at the MLB level. Only 2 pitchers were counted on to start right out of spring training and one (Drew Pomeranz), who went straight from AA to MLB to start the season, was sent down to AAA after a few months because he wasn't performing. On the other end of the spectrum Teheran and Montgomery have both already pitched a season and a half at AAA without being called up.

#27 chopper0080

chopper0080

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 165 posts

Posted 06 July 2012 - 10:44 AM

My biggest belief between the two would be pitchers need work at AAA because it is critical for them to prove they can get outs while throwing in the strike zone. In AA, many of the hitters are less disciplined and chase more pitches. This is why I feel AA is the top proving ground for hitting prospects. If they are successful at AA, it shows they can force top talent level pitchers to pitch in the zone which is critical to make the jump to the majors. It is also the reason I think pitching prospects need to go to AAA where they will face less talented hitters, but those who are more disciplined and will force them to develop "out pitches" in the strike zone.

#28 Jeremy Nygaard

Jeremy Nygaard

    Twins Database Manager

  • Twins Database Managers
  • 2,032 posts

Posted 07 July 2012 - 11:48 AM

Not that it's the top 50 prospects in baseball, but the original Future's Game rosters featured 6 AAA players (two of whom have since been promoted) and 24 AA players. To me, that's a pretty good indication where the best prospects reside (though other things obviously factor in).

#29 Shane Wahl

Shane Wahl

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,009 posts

Posted 07 July 2012 - 01:05 PM

Yes, I agree that the best prospects are in AA and usually jump to the majors because they are that good. This doesn't, well, shouldn't really apply to anyone for Twins, not named Sano (and maybe Rosario, Arcia and Buxton). It certainly did NOT apply to Chris Parmelee.

#30 Rosterman

Rosterman

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 981 posts

Posted 07 July 2012 - 01:32 PM

You are at AAA because you have played i the majors or have earned a spot on the 40-man roster. The competition is a bit higher at AAA than at AA levels. The players also tend to be older. Most of the placement of a player in the minors is not based on just ability, but also age, playing against similar types. Most AAA rosters are full of guys who are on the cusp of being in the majors, guys who can fill-in for an organization, but not maybe year-after-year, or people trying to get back into the majors. Remember, the worst guys on the bench and in the back-of-the-bullpen are still better than any star out of college or high school. It's just when they hit heir stride, how they adapt to the rules and regs of being a ballplayer, and the ability to learn. In a multi-task sport like baseball you may be fast, or powerful, or throw a mean pitch, or catch a ball...but you have to have the ability to bring ALL those skills together at some competent level. We can argue about Plouffe being in AAA too long. He is an example of a guy who was pushed a level beyond each year. If he was held back (think if you were held back a grade in school), he may be superman in the minors and THIS may be his first big year in the majors, rather than bits and pieces of many. All levels are adjustments. Some guys ARE more talented than others. But think of playing ball in town with all ages. Or the difference between sophomores and seniors at a high school, or at a college. The flipside of minor league play is that the lower levels are undisciplined. You get more wildness from the pitchers, more free swinging from the batters. Plus the competitiveness kicks in (will I make it). You always have to have a place for fill-in players. 40-man guys end up at AAA sometime during their 4 years. If you play in the Arizona Fall League, you more than likely end up at AAA the next season. By playing at competitive levels for age and skills, a player develops. You can bring Buxton up to the majors tomorrow, but do you want him to take his lumps up here in front of 40,000 people against 25-26-29-30 years olds that far outclass anything he has seen, or against comprable best each year as he goes thru a system. Yes, msot of the guys at AA could be playing AAA ball if there wasn't roster sports for AAAA-types (giving those 6-year guys one more chance).