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MN_ExPat

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  1. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Alex Boxwell for a blog entry, Gopher Preview (Week 3)   
    The Gophers are back playing baseball in Minnesota today. The first pitch is at 6 PM on B1G+, and for those of you looking to take in a baseball game in person, they will be at Zigi's house, US Bank stadium.

    The mid-week tilt will be against UW Milwaukee, who comes to town with a 4-2 record. The Panthers are paced offensively by Luke Seidel, who is 6-6 on stolen bases in as many games. He also boasts a .824 OPS as he holds down left field and the leadoff spot for UW Milwaukee.
     
    The Gophers limp into US Bank for their first home game after taking some tough losses to St Louis in Fort Myers last weekend. The Gophers are looking to bounce back with some home cooking against Wisconsin’s only Division-I baseball team by giving the ball to Eden Prairie’s own Ben Shepard. A right-hander that has pitched in a limited role so far this year but has seized his opportunities, and the University of Minnesota Duluth transfer will look to shut down the Panthers.
    On offense, the player I would like to highlight this week as your player to watch is Ike Mezzenga. The younger brother of Ben Mezzenga, a teammate of mine from 2016-2018, Ben was a fantastic leadoff-type bat who had incredible quickness (I did beat him in the 60, I want that on record). (Editor's note: @Alex Boxwell, you are the author, you can put it on the record. I won't research it!)  While Ben was a relatively easy prospect to identify with his bat-to-ball skill and great speed and quickness, Ike has a different journey, making him potentially even more exciting follow than his brother.
     
    Ike did not jump off the page as a high-school prospect, not to mention his senior season was washed due to the COVID pandemic. He bet on himself and attended the nationally-renowned developmental junior college Northern Iowa Area Community College (NIACC). As a freshman at NIACC, Mezzenga saw few opportunities and struggled in his 40 at-bats. However, continuing to develop as a ball player and an athlete, he burst onto the scene as a sophomore and quickly put himself on the radar of four-year schools.
    As a sophomore, he had a three/four/five season, which has become the measure of having an outstanding offensive season. A three/four/five season refers to the slash line of .300/.400/.500 or better. Ike had an impressive .345/.423/.565 season, with 15 home runs in 53 games at NIACC.
    Mezzenga had a long road to becoming a Gopher but has shown that he can adjust to the level early this season, hitting fifth in the order and playing multiple positions while holding a .391/.462/.565 slash line going into play on Wednesday. 
    He is a player I’m excited to follow because there’s no reason for his development to stop now. Limited recruiting interest out of high school, not playing well as a freshman at NIACC, he has shown the most important quality you need as a high-level hitter, and that is when he gets knocked down, he gets back up. 
    Look for Ike to provide some pop in the middle of the Gopher order this season and continue refining his game into being a professional prospect.

    The Gophers will continue to improve throughout this season as this group learns how to succeed at this level of play. They will also be tested this weekend with #7 Vanderbilt and #4 Ole Miss matchups this weekend. Big measuring stick weekend is coming. If you want to play college baseball, it doesn’t get any better than that. If you want to watch some college baseball, head to US Bank Stadium on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 
    Go Gophers
  2. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Alex Boxwell for a blog entry, Gopher Baseball: Built on Resilience   
    The storied University of Minnesota baseball program is the only sports topic nearer and dearer to my heart than Twins baseball. I’m a Gopher baseball alum from 2015-2018 and had the honor of playing for John Anderson, Rob Fornasiere, Todd Oakes, Pat Casey, and Ty McDevitt. 
    There was some turnover with our pitching coach during my time. If you want a feel for why this program is important, check out some of TO’s story, “Hearts, Guts, Balls.” He was one of the best human beings I have come across in my life, and I was incredibly blessed to know him for the short time he was with us.
    TO's other mantra is displayed on this poker chip he gave each of us. Everywhere I have went in life this has come with me, something I always try and live by.

    Gopher baseball has been knocked down and beaten to its knees in the last few years. It’s the worst it’s ever been in John Anderson’s 40-plus years as head coach. The constant with 14 (Anderson), on paper, appears to be the wins. Suppose you look up his career at Minnesota. In that case, it’s 1,347 wins, 11 Big Ten regular season titles, nine Big Ten tournament championships, 18 NCAA tournament appearances, eight-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, and in 2008 an ABCA Hall of Fame induction.
    With such an impressive resume, it’s easy to say he’s maybe lost his touch or look at the rough 0-4 start to the season and say, “it’s over.” In 2015 and again in 2016, it was the same headlines and storylines- the program is outdated, out of touch, and just flat-out no good anymore. 
    In my freshman season, we put together, at the time, the worst season in 14’s tenure. It felt like the sky was falling, but our steady leader John Anderson righted the ship. We won the Big Ten and made it to a Regional final against Texas A&M and parlayed that into one of the most successful, three-year stretches in program history.
    The naked eye says rock-solid winning seasons, year after year, are the legacy of this program. It’s not. What Gopher baseball is and has always been under the tenure of John Anderson is resiliant. This program has been through it all in his legendary tenure, on and off the field. The constant is the battle-tested Iron Ranger has always led the Gophers to the other side of difficult times.
     
    Judging this 2023 team on one tough weekend after coming out of their igloos to play top 15 competition is less than fair. The Gophers are running out a talented lineup worth a watch this weekend as they head down to Fort Myers to play Saint Louis on Friday and Saturday at 1:00 PM and Noon on Sunday.
    A player to watch is Brett Bateman. He’s my favorite bat we have had since Terrin Vavra. He has a similar left-handed bat that walks more than he strikes out and runs well, with 47 stolen bases between Minnesota and the Wilmar Stingers in 2022. Bateman patrols centerfield well but profiles better as a left fielder in pro ball. With elite bat-to-ball skills and excellent foot speed, he’s a pleasure to watch in the leadoff spot.

    With much of the same leadership, John Anderson and Pat Casey will get this going in the right direction. In 2018, we lost a close ball game to Joey Bart’s Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to start the year, swept Kennesaw State in a doubleheader with one game being a barn burner, and then lost to Georgia State. 
    We started 2-2, easily could have been 1-4 to start the year, and we hosted and won a Regional and then lost to the National Champion Oregon State Beavers in a Super Regional. Thankfully, we didn’t punt on the season after four baseball games. I know 2023 started on a rough note for my Gophers, but they are worth a watch online or if you’re lucky enough to be down at Spring Training. They have talented players and a coaching staff that does WAY more than win ball games.

     
    Go Gophers!
  3. Like
    MN_ExPat got a reaction from Strombomb for a blog entry, Baseball is Faith, Faith is Baseball   
    I cannot claim original ownership of this, I merely stumbled across this the other day.  However as we embark across another Spring with thousands of players readying themselves for the most humbling game I know of on this earth, I thought I would like to say a small prayer for our boys.  Not just our beloved Twins, but ALL young men who's drive and passion for this game bring us such profound and indelible feeling, emotions, and memories.  "God is in the details". A phrase that to this day holds a place preeminent in the baseball pantheon of lore.   My son's favorite phrase is Philippians 4:13 (it's even stitched into his glove).  
    I realize that not everyone feels the same way, and I immensely respect that.  Faith is a truly personal journey and must be for each and everyone one of us to approach and accept in our own way.  To me, this is why faith is such an immense part of the game.  A person may choose to not be part of God, but God will never choose to NOT be part of us and the game.  He is simply part of the fabric of the game and life that makes it what it is.
    "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me"
    Php 4:13

    "Baseball means dealing with failure. “There is more Met than Yankee in all of us,” as Roger Angell has poignantly wrote in The Summer Game.
    Every person who has ever played the game of baseball has been a consistent failure. It has been more than 70 years since the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, finished the 1941 baseball season with a .406 batting average. Williams' failure rate of 60 percent means that he failed less often than any batter in the seven subsequent decades. In fact, only five other players in the live ball era (since 1920) have matched the success of his 60 percent failure rate. Babe Ruth, known for hitting 714 home runs, struck out 1,330 times in his Major League Baseball career. The Cy Young Award is baseball's most coveted honor for the game's best pitcher each season, yet the award's namesake lost 316 games as a major league pitcher.
    Even the unofficial anthem of baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” is a celebration of hope in the midst of managed failure. Singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch is a communal baseball rite of passage. Timothy A. Johnson notes how the song celebrates failure both musically and lyrically, “Instead of celebrating a run or a victory, the song celebrates the act of striking out, the batter’s utter failure. He continues, “There is no spectacular hit to drive in runners—no heroic walk-off home run, no victory for the home team—and the structural melodic line . . . aptly reflects this failure. Striking out is represented musically in a deep structural way, by the failure of the melodic line to reach it’s rightful goal—it’s home, it’s origin—through a proper descent to the tonic” (“I Never Get Back: How ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ Succeeds in Celebrating Failure,” The National Pastime [2008], 143).
    The reality that baseball is a game of managed failure for every player, even the great ones, is one of the reasons the game imbedded so deeply in the fabric of American culture. Baseball became the national pastime because it reflected the national character—a collective team endeavor that called consistently for individual responsibility and personal sacrifice for the greater good. John Updike asserted that baseball is “an essentially lonely game.” Once the batting order is set, there is nowhere to hide; a turn at the plate is coming. The fact that the whole team is counting on the each batter produces the possibility of personal exultation or humiliation. Unlike other youth sports, baseball doesn't permit a game to be dominated by a star player whose teammates are simply along for the ride.
    I fear that one of the reasons for the waning popularity of baseball in American culture is not because the game has changed, but because we have changed. It takes time and patience to understand the game of baseball, and becoming a proficient player is difficult—very difficult. Natural physical gifting and innate athleticism are not predictors of baseball success. In fact, the baseball Hall of Fame extols the virtues of the game's greatest players, and the shocking reality is not the amazing size, strength, and speed of the game's heroes, but the almost comical diversity of body type and physical ability. The game's greatest players have been tall and short, skinny and fat, slow and fast, muscular and flabby, intelligent, and well, not so intelligent. But, they all have one thing in common; every one of them developed the emotional capacity to persevere in the face of frequent, chronic failure and occasional humiliation.
    If my suppositions are correct, what was once seen as a part of the glory of baseball, learning to persevere in the face of consistent failure, is now perceived to be a reason to avoid the game. Parents simply looking for ways to keep their children busy and happy will choose sports that do not include the pressure and individualized responsibility that baseball has always demanded. Baseball requires a kind of moral courage that keeps persisting in the face of inevitable repeated personal failures. That is the sober, unalterable reality for Miguel Cabrera and every little leaguer as well. Thus, baseball demands a huge time commitment for fathers, not simply in teaching and repetitively practicing the fundamentals of the game, but also calling sons to the kind of moral courage the game demands. Rarely ever will a boy persist in baseball if his dad has little interest in the game. As Diana Schaub avers in her essay “America at Bat,” “Without fathers, there is no baseball, only football and basketball.”
    Baseball does not fit well with the current trend of sports leagues that do not keep score and where the goal is for everyone to be successful and know that they are always a winner. Such a notion does violence to a game that is structurally committed to constant reminders of the participant's finitude and allows no room for such utopian fantasies. One of the reasons baseball has been so slow to embrace instant replay in the sport (and rightly so) is that a game marked by chronic managed failure propagates no delusions of human perfectionism in its players or its umpires. When a baseball purist asserts, “Bad calls are a part of the game,” he is saying something about the warp and woof of the game.
    Only genuine baseball fans understood the reaction of Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga during the 2010 baseball season when he was one out from throwing a perfect game (there have only been 23) and veteran umpire Jim Joyce made one of the worst big moment calls in baseball history. Joyce, inexplicably, called the batter safe at first base. When the next batter was retired, Galarraga was saddled with the most disappointing one hitter in the history of the game. How did Galarraga respond to the injustice? When it happened he offered a stunned grin and after the game he said, “He is human. Nobody's perfect…. I want to tell him not to worry about it.” That moment was a beautiful window into what makes baseball unique.
    No baseball player can survive and thrive without hope. When Henry Aaron was asked if he arrived at the ballpark every day knowing he would get two hits his reply was, “No. What I do know is that if I don't get 'em today, I'm sure going to get 'em tomorrow.” Babe Ruth was fond of saying, “Every strike gets me closer to the next home run.” Persistent, daily plodding in the face of chronic managed failure, driven by future hope sounds a lot like my daily Christian walk."
    The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). But he went on to write, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! … There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 7:25a, 8:1). The reality of his persistent failure and limitations did not paralyze him because he knew his story fit into a larger picture of the story of Christ. In the Kingdom of Christ, “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” and those who love God are being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).
    As players prepare for Opening Day, every one of them knows perfection is impossible. No team will win 162 games; no one will bat 1.000, and no regular starting pitcher will go undefeated. Nevertheless, they practice with a sense of hope that this just might be their year. Despite their constant failure, if they keep stepping up to the plate and heading out to their position in the field, it all might work together for something special, and if not, there is always next year.
    The very existence of another baseball season, another 162-game, seven-month exercise in hopeful, managed failure is a faint echo of the glorious promise James offers to all who have put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). Everyone has the tendency to compare the highlight reel of others' successes to our daily failures and lose heart. But baseball, for those of us who love it, provides a constant reminder that everyone (even the superstar) strikes out, but the game still goes on.
    Like most years, I think this just might be the year for my beloved Atlanta Braves to win it all. But whether they do or not, I am thankful that the chill of winter is giving way to spring and umpires will soon yell, “Play Ball!” Angell was right, “There is more Met than Yankee in all of us,” and there is a glimmer of a greater glory that the Mets keep taking the field.
  4. Like
    MN_ExPat got a reaction from dcswede for a blog entry, Baseball is Faith, Faith is Baseball   
    I cannot claim original ownership of this, I merely stumbled across this the other day.  However as we embark across another Spring with thousands of players readying themselves for the most humbling game I know of on this earth, I thought I would like to say a small prayer for our boys.  Not just our beloved Twins, but ALL young men who's drive and passion for this game bring us such profound and indelible feeling, emotions, and memories.  "God is in the details". A phrase that to this day holds a place preeminent in the baseball pantheon of lore.   My son's favorite phrase is Philippians 4:13 (it's even stitched into his glove).  
    I realize that not everyone feels the same way, and I immensely respect that.  Faith is a truly personal journey and must be for each and everyone one of us to approach and accept in our own way.  To me, this is why faith is such an immense part of the game.  A person may choose to not be part of God, but God will never choose to NOT be part of us and the game.  He is simply part of the fabric of the game and life that makes it what it is.
    "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me"
    Php 4:13

    "Baseball means dealing with failure. “There is more Met than Yankee in all of us,” as Roger Angell has poignantly wrote in The Summer Game.
    Every person who has ever played the game of baseball has been a consistent failure. It has been more than 70 years since the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, finished the 1941 baseball season with a .406 batting average. Williams' failure rate of 60 percent means that he failed less often than any batter in the seven subsequent decades. In fact, only five other players in the live ball era (since 1920) have matched the success of his 60 percent failure rate. Babe Ruth, known for hitting 714 home runs, struck out 1,330 times in his Major League Baseball career. The Cy Young Award is baseball's most coveted honor for the game's best pitcher each season, yet the award's namesake lost 316 games as a major league pitcher.
    Even the unofficial anthem of baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” is a celebration of hope in the midst of managed failure. Singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch is a communal baseball rite of passage. Timothy A. Johnson notes how the song celebrates failure both musically and lyrically, “Instead of celebrating a run or a victory, the song celebrates the act of striking out, the batter’s utter failure. He continues, “There is no spectacular hit to drive in runners—no heroic walk-off home run, no victory for the home team—and the structural melodic line . . . aptly reflects this failure. Striking out is represented musically in a deep structural way, by the failure of the melodic line to reach it’s rightful goal—it’s home, it’s origin—through a proper descent to the tonic” (“I Never Get Back: How ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ Succeeds in Celebrating Failure,” The National Pastime [2008], 143).
    The reality that baseball is a game of managed failure for every player, even the great ones, is one of the reasons the game imbedded so deeply in the fabric of American culture. Baseball became the national pastime because it reflected the national character—a collective team endeavor that called consistently for individual responsibility and personal sacrifice for the greater good. John Updike asserted that baseball is “an essentially lonely game.” Once the batting order is set, there is nowhere to hide; a turn at the plate is coming. The fact that the whole team is counting on the each batter produces the possibility of personal exultation or humiliation. Unlike other youth sports, baseball doesn't permit a game to be dominated by a star player whose teammates are simply along for the ride.
    I fear that one of the reasons for the waning popularity of baseball in American culture is not because the game has changed, but because we have changed. It takes time and patience to understand the game of baseball, and becoming a proficient player is difficult—very difficult. Natural physical gifting and innate athleticism are not predictors of baseball success. In fact, the baseball Hall of Fame extols the virtues of the game's greatest players, and the shocking reality is not the amazing size, strength, and speed of the game's heroes, but the almost comical diversity of body type and physical ability. The game's greatest players have been tall and short, skinny and fat, slow and fast, muscular and flabby, intelligent, and well, not so intelligent. But, they all have one thing in common; every one of them developed the emotional capacity to persevere in the face of frequent, chronic failure and occasional humiliation.
    If my suppositions are correct, what was once seen as a part of the glory of baseball, learning to persevere in the face of consistent failure, is now perceived to be a reason to avoid the game. Parents simply looking for ways to keep their children busy and happy will choose sports that do not include the pressure and individualized responsibility that baseball has always demanded. Baseball requires a kind of moral courage that keeps persisting in the face of inevitable repeated personal failures. That is the sober, unalterable reality for Miguel Cabrera and every little leaguer as well. Thus, baseball demands a huge time commitment for fathers, not simply in teaching and repetitively practicing the fundamentals of the game, but also calling sons to the kind of moral courage the game demands. Rarely ever will a boy persist in baseball if his dad has little interest in the game. As Diana Schaub avers in her essay “America at Bat,” “Without fathers, there is no baseball, only football and basketball.”
    Baseball does not fit well with the current trend of sports leagues that do not keep score and where the goal is for everyone to be successful and know that they are always a winner. Such a notion does violence to a game that is structurally committed to constant reminders of the participant's finitude and allows no room for such utopian fantasies. One of the reasons baseball has been so slow to embrace instant replay in the sport (and rightly so) is that a game marked by chronic managed failure propagates no delusions of human perfectionism in its players or its umpires. When a baseball purist asserts, “Bad calls are a part of the game,” he is saying something about the warp and woof of the game.
    Only genuine baseball fans understood the reaction of Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga during the 2010 baseball season when he was one out from throwing a perfect game (there have only been 23) and veteran umpire Jim Joyce made one of the worst big moment calls in baseball history. Joyce, inexplicably, called the batter safe at first base. When the next batter was retired, Galarraga was saddled with the most disappointing one hitter in the history of the game. How did Galarraga respond to the injustice? When it happened he offered a stunned grin and after the game he said, “He is human. Nobody's perfect…. I want to tell him not to worry about it.” That moment was a beautiful window into what makes baseball unique.
    No baseball player can survive and thrive without hope. When Henry Aaron was asked if he arrived at the ballpark every day knowing he would get two hits his reply was, “No. What I do know is that if I don't get 'em today, I'm sure going to get 'em tomorrow.” Babe Ruth was fond of saying, “Every strike gets me closer to the next home run.” Persistent, daily plodding in the face of chronic managed failure, driven by future hope sounds a lot like my daily Christian walk."
    The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). But he went on to write, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! … There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 7:25a, 8:1). The reality of his persistent failure and limitations did not paralyze him because he knew his story fit into a larger picture of the story of Christ. In the Kingdom of Christ, “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” and those who love God are being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).
    As players prepare for Opening Day, every one of them knows perfection is impossible. No team will win 162 games; no one will bat 1.000, and no regular starting pitcher will go undefeated. Nevertheless, they practice with a sense of hope that this just might be their year. Despite their constant failure, if they keep stepping up to the plate and heading out to their position in the field, it all might work together for something special, and if not, there is always next year.
    The very existence of another baseball season, another 162-game, seven-month exercise in hopeful, managed failure is a faint echo of the glorious promise James offers to all who have put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). Everyone has the tendency to compare the highlight reel of others' successes to our daily failures and lose heart. But baseball, for those of us who love it, provides a constant reminder that everyone (even the superstar) strikes out, but the game still goes on.
    Like most years, I think this just might be the year for my beloved Atlanta Braves to win it all. But whether they do or not, I am thankful that the chill of winter is giving way to spring and umpires will soon yell, “Play Ball!” Angell was right, “There is more Met than Yankee in all of us,” and there is a glimmer of a greater glory that the Mets keep taking the field.
  5. Like
    MN_ExPat got a reaction from Doctor Gast for a blog entry, Baseball is Faith, Faith is Baseball   
    I cannot claim original ownership of this, I merely stumbled across this the other day.  However as we embark across another Spring with thousands of players readying themselves for the most humbling game I know of on this earth, I thought I would like to say a small prayer for our boys.  Not just our beloved Twins, but ALL young men who's drive and passion for this game bring us such profound and indelible feeling, emotions, and memories.  "God is in the details". A phrase that to this day holds a place preeminent in the baseball pantheon of lore.   My son's favorite phrase is Philippians 4:13 (it's even stitched into his glove).  
    I realize that not everyone feels the same way, and I immensely respect that.  Faith is a truly personal journey and must be for each and everyone one of us to approach and accept in our own way.  To me, this is why faith is such an immense part of the game.  A person may choose to not be part of God, but God will never choose to NOT be part of us and the game.  He is simply part of the fabric of the game and life that makes it what it is.
    "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me"
    Php 4:13

    "Baseball means dealing with failure. “There is more Met than Yankee in all of us,” as Roger Angell has poignantly wrote in The Summer Game.
    Every person who has ever played the game of baseball has been a consistent failure. It has been more than 70 years since the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, finished the 1941 baseball season with a .406 batting average. Williams' failure rate of 60 percent means that he failed less often than any batter in the seven subsequent decades. In fact, only five other players in the live ball era (since 1920) have matched the success of his 60 percent failure rate. Babe Ruth, known for hitting 714 home runs, struck out 1,330 times in his Major League Baseball career. The Cy Young Award is baseball's most coveted honor for the game's best pitcher each season, yet the award's namesake lost 316 games as a major league pitcher.
    Even the unofficial anthem of baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” is a celebration of hope in the midst of managed failure. Singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch is a communal baseball rite of passage. Timothy A. Johnson notes how the song celebrates failure both musically and lyrically, “Instead of celebrating a run or a victory, the song celebrates the act of striking out, the batter’s utter failure. He continues, “There is no spectacular hit to drive in runners—no heroic walk-off home run, no victory for the home team—and the structural melodic line . . . aptly reflects this failure. Striking out is represented musically in a deep structural way, by the failure of the melodic line to reach it’s rightful goal—it’s home, it’s origin—through a proper descent to the tonic” (“I Never Get Back: How ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ Succeeds in Celebrating Failure,” The National Pastime [2008], 143).
    The reality that baseball is a game of managed failure for every player, even the great ones, is one of the reasons the game imbedded so deeply in the fabric of American culture. Baseball became the national pastime because it reflected the national character—a collective team endeavor that called consistently for individual responsibility and personal sacrifice for the greater good. John Updike asserted that baseball is “an essentially lonely game.” Once the batting order is set, there is nowhere to hide; a turn at the plate is coming. The fact that the whole team is counting on the each batter produces the possibility of personal exultation or humiliation. Unlike other youth sports, baseball doesn't permit a game to be dominated by a star player whose teammates are simply along for the ride.
    I fear that one of the reasons for the waning popularity of baseball in American culture is not because the game has changed, but because we have changed. It takes time and patience to understand the game of baseball, and becoming a proficient player is difficult—very difficult. Natural physical gifting and innate athleticism are not predictors of baseball success. In fact, the baseball Hall of Fame extols the virtues of the game's greatest players, and the shocking reality is not the amazing size, strength, and speed of the game's heroes, but the almost comical diversity of body type and physical ability. The game's greatest players have been tall and short, skinny and fat, slow and fast, muscular and flabby, intelligent, and well, not so intelligent. But, they all have one thing in common; every one of them developed the emotional capacity to persevere in the face of frequent, chronic failure and occasional humiliation.
    If my suppositions are correct, what was once seen as a part of the glory of baseball, learning to persevere in the face of consistent failure, is now perceived to be a reason to avoid the game. Parents simply looking for ways to keep their children busy and happy will choose sports that do not include the pressure and individualized responsibility that baseball has always demanded. Baseball requires a kind of moral courage that keeps persisting in the face of inevitable repeated personal failures. That is the sober, unalterable reality for Miguel Cabrera and every little leaguer as well. Thus, baseball demands a huge time commitment for fathers, not simply in teaching and repetitively practicing the fundamentals of the game, but also calling sons to the kind of moral courage the game demands. Rarely ever will a boy persist in baseball if his dad has little interest in the game. As Diana Schaub avers in her essay “America at Bat,” “Without fathers, there is no baseball, only football and basketball.”
    Baseball does not fit well with the current trend of sports leagues that do not keep score and where the goal is for everyone to be successful and know that they are always a winner. Such a notion does violence to a game that is structurally committed to constant reminders of the participant's finitude and allows no room for such utopian fantasies. One of the reasons baseball has been so slow to embrace instant replay in the sport (and rightly so) is that a game marked by chronic managed failure propagates no delusions of human perfectionism in its players or its umpires. When a baseball purist asserts, “Bad calls are a part of the game,” he is saying something about the warp and woof of the game.
    Only genuine baseball fans understood the reaction of Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga during the 2010 baseball season when he was one out from throwing a perfect game (there have only been 23) and veteran umpire Jim Joyce made one of the worst big moment calls in baseball history. Joyce, inexplicably, called the batter safe at first base. When the next batter was retired, Galarraga was saddled with the most disappointing one hitter in the history of the game. How did Galarraga respond to the injustice? When it happened he offered a stunned grin and after the game he said, “He is human. Nobody's perfect…. I want to tell him not to worry about it.” That moment was a beautiful window into what makes baseball unique.
    No baseball player can survive and thrive without hope. When Henry Aaron was asked if he arrived at the ballpark every day knowing he would get two hits his reply was, “No. What I do know is that if I don't get 'em today, I'm sure going to get 'em tomorrow.” Babe Ruth was fond of saying, “Every strike gets me closer to the next home run.” Persistent, daily plodding in the face of chronic managed failure, driven by future hope sounds a lot like my daily Christian walk."
    The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). But he went on to write, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! … There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 7:25a, 8:1). The reality of his persistent failure and limitations did not paralyze him because he knew his story fit into a larger picture of the story of Christ. In the Kingdom of Christ, “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” and those who love God are being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).
    As players prepare for Opening Day, every one of them knows perfection is impossible. No team will win 162 games; no one will bat 1.000, and no regular starting pitcher will go undefeated. Nevertheless, they practice with a sense of hope that this just might be their year. Despite their constant failure, if they keep stepping up to the plate and heading out to their position in the field, it all might work together for something special, and if not, there is always next year.
    The very existence of another baseball season, another 162-game, seven-month exercise in hopeful, managed failure is a faint echo of the glorious promise James offers to all who have put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). Everyone has the tendency to compare the highlight reel of others' successes to our daily failures and lose heart. But baseball, for those of us who love it, provides a constant reminder that everyone (even the superstar) strikes out, but the game still goes on.
    Like most years, I think this just might be the year for my beloved Atlanta Braves to win it all. But whether they do or not, I am thankful that the chill of winter is giving way to spring and umpires will soon yell, “Play Ball!” Angell was right, “There is more Met than Yankee in all of us,” and there is a glimmer of a greater glory that the Mets keep taking the field.
  6. Like
    MN_ExPat got a reaction from Karbo for a blog entry, Baseball is Faith, Faith is Baseball   
    I cannot claim original ownership of this, I merely stumbled across this the other day.  However as we embark across another Spring with thousands of players readying themselves for the most humbling game I know of on this earth, I thought I would like to say a small prayer for our boys.  Not just our beloved Twins, but ALL young men who's drive and passion for this game bring us such profound and indelible feeling, emotions, and memories.  "God is in the details". A phrase that to this day holds a place preeminent in the baseball pantheon of lore.   My son's favorite phrase is Philippians 4:13 (it's even stitched into his glove).  
    I realize that not everyone feels the same way, and I immensely respect that.  Faith is a truly personal journey and must be for each and everyone one of us to approach and accept in our own way.  To me, this is why faith is such an immense part of the game.  A person may choose to not be part of God, but God will never choose to NOT be part of us and the game.  He is simply part of the fabric of the game and life that makes it what it is.
    "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me"
    Php 4:13

    "Baseball means dealing with failure. “There is more Met than Yankee in all of us,” as Roger Angell has poignantly wrote in The Summer Game.
    Every person who has ever played the game of baseball has been a consistent failure. It has been more than 70 years since the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, finished the 1941 baseball season with a .406 batting average. Williams' failure rate of 60 percent means that he failed less often than any batter in the seven subsequent decades. In fact, only five other players in the live ball era (since 1920) have matched the success of his 60 percent failure rate. Babe Ruth, known for hitting 714 home runs, struck out 1,330 times in his Major League Baseball career. The Cy Young Award is baseball's most coveted honor for the game's best pitcher each season, yet the award's namesake lost 316 games as a major league pitcher.
    Even the unofficial anthem of baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” is a celebration of hope in the midst of managed failure. Singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch is a communal baseball rite of passage. Timothy A. Johnson notes how the song celebrates failure both musically and lyrically, “Instead of celebrating a run or a victory, the song celebrates the act of striking out, the batter’s utter failure. He continues, “There is no spectacular hit to drive in runners—no heroic walk-off home run, no victory for the home team—and the structural melodic line . . . aptly reflects this failure. Striking out is represented musically in a deep structural way, by the failure of the melodic line to reach it’s rightful goal—it’s home, it’s origin—through a proper descent to the tonic” (“I Never Get Back: How ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ Succeeds in Celebrating Failure,” The National Pastime [2008], 143).
    The reality that baseball is a game of managed failure for every player, even the great ones, is one of the reasons the game imbedded so deeply in the fabric of American culture. Baseball became the national pastime because it reflected the national character—a collective team endeavor that called consistently for individual responsibility and personal sacrifice for the greater good. John Updike asserted that baseball is “an essentially lonely game.” Once the batting order is set, there is nowhere to hide; a turn at the plate is coming. The fact that the whole team is counting on the each batter produces the possibility of personal exultation or humiliation. Unlike other youth sports, baseball doesn't permit a game to be dominated by a star player whose teammates are simply along for the ride.
    I fear that one of the reasons for the waning popularity of baseball in American culture is not because the game has changed, but because we have changed. It takes time and patience to understand the game of baseball, and becoming a proficient player is difficult—very difficult. Natural physical gifting and innate athleticism are not predictors of baseball success. In fact, the baseball Hall of Fame extols the virtues of the game's greatest players, and the shocking reality is not the amazing size, strength, and speed of the game's heroes, but the almost comical diversity of body type and physical ability. The game's greatest players have been tall and short, skinny and fat, slow and fast, muscular and flabby, intelligent, and well, not so intelligent. But, they all have one thing in common; every one of them developed the emotional capacity to persevere in the face of frequent, chronic failure and occasional humiliation.
    If my suppositions are correct, what was once seen as a part of the glory of baseball, learning to persevere in the face of consistent failure, is now perceived to be a reason to avoid the game. Parents simply looking for ways to keep their children busy and happy will choose sports that do not include the pressure and individualized responsibility that baseball has always demanded. Baseball requires a kind of moral courage that keeps persisting in the face of inevitable repeated personal failures. That is the sober, unalterable reality for Miguel Cabrera and every little leaguer as well. Thus, baseball demands a huge time commitment for fathers, not simply in teaching and repetitively practicing the fundamentals of the game, but also calling sons to the kind of moral courage the game demands. Rarely ever will a boy persist in baseball if his dad has little interest in the game. As Diana Schaub avers in her essay “America at Bat,” “Without fathers, there is no baseball, only football and basketball.”
    Baseball does not fit well with the current trend of sports leagues that do not keep score and where the goal is for everyone to be successful and know that they are always a winner. Such a notion does violence to a game that is structurally committed to constant reminders of the participant's finitude and allows no room for such utopian fantasies. One of the reasons baseball has been so slow to embrace instant replay in the sport (and rightly so) is that a game marked by chronic managed failure propagates no delusions of human perfectionism in its players or its umpires. When a baseball purist asserts, “Bad calls are a part of the game,” he is saying something about the warp and woof of the game.
    Only genuine baseball fans understood the reaction of Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga during the 2010 baseball season when he was one out from throwing a perfect game (there have only been 23) and veteran umpire Jim Joyce made one of the worst big moment calls in baseball history. Joyce, inexplicably, called the batter safe at first base. When the next batter was retired, Galarraga was saddled with the most disappointing one hitter in the history of the game. How did Galarraga respond to the injustice? When it happened he offered a stunned grin and after the game he said, “He is human. Nobody's perfect…. I want to tell him not to worry about it.” That moment was a beautiful window into what makes baseball unique.
    No baseball player can survive and thrive without hope. When Henry Aaron was asked if he arrived at the ballpark every day knowing he would get two hits his reply was, “No. What I do know is that if I don't get 'em today, I'm sure going to get 'em tomorrow.” Babe Ruth was fond of saying, “Every strike gets me closer to the next home run.” Persistent, daily plodding in the face of chronic managed failure, driven by future hope sounds a lot like my daily Christian walk."
    The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). But he went on to write, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! … There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 7:25a, 8:1). The reality of his persistent failure and limitations did not paralyze him because he knew his story fit into a larger picture of the story of Christ. In the Kingdom of Christ, “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” and those who love God are being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).
    As players prepare for Opening Day, every one of them knows perfection is impossible. No team will win 162 games; no one will bat 1.000, and no regular starting pitcher will go undefeated. Nevertheless, they practice with a sense of hope that this just might be their year. Despite their constant failure, if they keep stepping up to the plate and heading out to their position in the field, it all might work together for something special, and if not, there is always next year.
    The very existence of another baseball season, another 162-game, seven-month exercise in hopeful, managed failure is a faint echo of the glorious promise James offers to all who have put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). Everyone has the tendency to compare the highlight reel of others' successes to our daily failures and lose heart. But baseball, for those of us who love it, provides a constant reminder that everyone (even the superstar) strikes out, but the game still goes on.
    Like most years, I think this just might be the year for my beloved Atlanta Braves to win it all. But whether they do or not, I am thankful that the chill of winter is giving way to spring and umpires will soon yell, “Play Ball!” Angell was right, “There is more Met than Yankee in all of us,” and there is a glimmer of a greater glory that the Mets keep taking the field.
  7. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, 2023 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects   
    Coming into the 2023 Major League Baseball season we have seen plenty of graduations from the top of the Minnesota farm system. Players like Joe Ryan and Jose Miranda are now fully entrenched as big leaguers. With another year removed from the season wiped out by Covid, we have more development having taken place on the farm.
    As the Twins head to Fort Myers in a matter of weeks, they will be looking for their youth to again be well positioned to supplement the big league club. Rocco Baldelli’s team is looking to compete in the AL Central this year, and there will at least be a name or two from this group that helps them to do so.
    With the last update to this prospect list coming more than a year ago, it’s time for a refresh. Previous rankings can be found below:
    2016 Top 15 Prospects
    2017 Top 15 Prospects
    2018 Top 15 Prospects
    2019 Top 15 Prospects
    2020 Top 15 Prospects
    2021 Top 15 Prospects
    2022 Top 15 Propsects
    15. Tanner Schobel
    A second round pick from Virginia Tech last season, Schobel made his professional debut and spent the bulk of his time at Low-A Fort Myers. In just shy of 30 games he posted a .670 OPS and showed a very strong set of on-base skills. He had a power breakout for the Hokies prior to being drafted, but this is more a solid bat and good fielder than anything.]
    14. Matt Canterino RHP
    Canterino has appeared all over this list in recent seasons. He threw 37 innings last season before needing Tommy John surgery. At this point he shouldn’t be starting, but he could certainly blossom into a late-inning reliever once returning to a clean bill of health.
    13. David Festa RHP
    Continuing to creep up prospect lists, Festa’s 2.43 ERA in more than 100 innings last year was impressive. It was his first real season of professional ball and the strikeout rates were nice to see. Festa looked the part of a legit starter at High-A Cedar Rapids, and continuing down that path this season for Double-A Wichita could have him positioned to debut in 2023.
    12. Edouard Julien INF
    The only reason that Julien isn’t higher on this list is that he’s extremely limited defensively. Julien tore up Double-A for Wichita posting a .931 OPS, and he continued to impress in the Arizona Fall League. There is a very good bat here, and it flashes with both on-base skills and power.
    11. Louie Varland RHP
    Making his Major League debut for the Twins last season, Varland continues to climb the prospect ranks. His ceiling may not be that of a number two pitcher, but he looks to be a number four at worst and can continue to develop a bit more. This has been an incredible success story.
    10. Matt Wallner OF
    Wallner made it to the big leagues last year, and it was largely because of changes he made at the plate. His arm has always been solid in the outfield, but reigning in the free-swinging profile to draw more walks and focus on doing damage was huge. There is Brent Rooker downside here, but patience has changed his trajectory some.
    9. Yasser Mercedes OF
    It’s hard to extrapolate too much from the teenagers playing during the Dominican Summer League, but Mercedes looks special. He posted a .975 OPS and did so with both average and on-base skills to his credit. He looks the part of a toolsy outfielder, and if the bat continues to play, this is a prospect that will keep rising the ranks.
    8. Austin Martin INF/OF
    It’s pretty clear that Martin is no longer a shortstop, and while he could play either second or third base, he may be best suited for the outfield. After failing to harness power Minnesota was trying to tap into, Martin’s stock could again rise by simply reverting to pure hitter tendencies. He’s not the can’t miss prospect that the Twins acquired from Toronto, but there is a big leaguer here.
    7. Simeon Woods Richardson RHP
    Acquired alongside Martin in the Jose Berrios trade, Woods Richardson made it to the show first. He distanced himself from the setback that was 2021, and looks the part of a Major League rotation piece. Woods Richardson should get plenty of run at Triple-A this season, and he’ll see time with Minnesota again as well.
    6. Jose Salas SS
    Part of Minnesota’s return for Luis Arraez from the Miami Marlins, Salas has plenty of unpredictability going forward. As he matures and grows, he could slide to second or third base, but he also profiles as an extremely talented offensive player. Just 19, Salas did post a .723 OPS across two levels of Single-A last season.
    5. Marco Raya RHP
    A fourth round pick back in 2020, Raya made his professional debut in 2022 after finally being healthy. His 3.05 ERA at Low-A Fort Myers paired nicely with a 10.5 K/9, and his stuff has always looked like he could be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. More development for a kid that is just 20-years-old is needed, but there is plenty to be excited about here.
    4. Connor Prielipp LHP
    Taken in the 2022 draft, Prielipp had the makings of a first round pick before undergoing surgery. He likely represents Minnesota's best prospect chance at an ace, and he could conceivably be a top-100 prospect nationally by this time next year. The stuff is special, and doing it as a southpaw makes him that much more valuable.
    3. Emmanuel Rodriguez OF
    Playing in Low-A at just 19, Rodriguez turned heads in a big way last year. His 1.044 OPS in the Florida State League was jaw-dropping, and it was only injury that slowed him down. He should be healthy coming into 2023, and there is no reason another strong season couldn’t vault him into the top 25 of prospects lists.
    2. Brooks Lee SS
    Drafted for his hit tool, Lee did exactly that during his professional debut. He batted .303 with an .839 OPS and made it all the way to Double-A in year one. There is no reason why Lee can’t play for the Twins as early as this year, and he looks to be among the most polished players from any recent draft class.
    1. Royce Lewis SS
    Making his big league debut in place of Carlos Correa last season, Lewis looked the part of an All-Star shortstop. Another unfortunate injury got him, but the production for the Twins was enough to drool over. It has never seemed wise to doubt Lewis, but his ceiling remains as high as it has ever been.
  8. Haha
    MN_ExPat reacted to Greggory Masterson for a blog entry, What the Recent Number Changes can Tell Us   
    On December 10th, it was announced that a few Twins had changed their jersey numbers. Trevor Larnach from 13 to 9, Emilio Pagán from 12 to 15, Kyle Farmer from 17 to 12, Bailey Ober from 16 to 17, and Griffin Jax 65 to 22.
    This is nothing out of the ordinary; a few players each offseason on any team will request a number change for one reason or another. However, this time, something peculiar happened shortly thereafter.
    Joey Gallo was signed less than a week later, and he claimed the 13 number, his number in Texas and New York, which had conveniently been vacated by Larnach. Is this a coincidence? My money is on no; it's incredibly meaningful.
    I did exactly what you have come to expect from old Gregg--I've scoured the list of remaining MLB free agents to see what this might mean for the rest of the offseason, and it leaves more questions than answers. Here are my findings:
    #9 (Taken by Trevor Larnach)
    The only remaining free agent who wears 9 is Dee Strange-Gordon, Nick Gordon's half-brother. Might there be a rift between Larnach and Gordon now that he's preventing his big brother playing for Minnesota? Probably. It's a good thing that Correa is back to try to help keep the locker room intact. Between this and fighting over left field playing time, things could get ugly.
    #12 (Vacated by Emilio Pagán; Taken by Kyle Farmer)
    Farmer really stepped on Pagán's toes here. It looks like Emilio may have been trying to open the door for Rougned Odor to don a Twins jersey, which makes sense given his history of sucker-punching opponents who homers off his pitchers. Having Odor at second base would definitely help keep Pagán's homerun numbers in check. Watch for a rift between these two teammates as well.
    #15 (Taken by Emilio Pagán)
    It's been a rough 24 hours in Twins territory with the last two #15 free agents signing elsewhere in Raimel Tapia and Brian Anderson. When will the team finally pull the trigger on the guys they really want?
    #16 (Vacated by Bailey Ober)
    This was the spot that showed the most promise, though with Trey Mancini coming off the board this week, the remaining pool is thin in Cesar Hernandez and Travis Jankowski. I would bet that the Twins were more in on Mancini than suggested, given that they clearly forced Ober to change numbers to attract him.
    #17 (Taken by Bailey Ober)
    Ober apparently looked Chris Archer in the eyes and said "This town ain't big enough for two five-and-dives" and took his number, preventing his return. Go get 'em, Bailey!
    #22 (Taken by Griffin Jax)
    Learned men like me know that there was no shot of the Twins getting Andrew McCutchen with this stunt pulled. Think of the team, Griffin!
    This also rains on Jeremy Nygaard's hopes to bring back Miguel Sanó. Surely the big man wouldn't come back if he couldn't get his number back from a relief pitcher. To make matters worse, this also eliminates Robinson Canó from contention. Sure, he switched his number for Roger Clemens in New York, but Jax is no Rocket; he's Air Force, not Space Force.
    This also removes Luis Torrens as an option. Sad day for those of you with Luis Torrens on your offseason bingo card.
    #65 (Vacated by Griffin Jax)
    There isn't even a potential free agent with Griffin's old number. So selfish.
  9. Like
    MN_ExPat got a reaction from Doctor Gast for a blog entry, Should the Twins jump in and sign Trevor Bauer now that he will be a FA?   
    This may be seen as a unpopular thought or topic among some, but should the Twins consider signing Bauer now that he is available having just been Designated for Assignment by the Dodgers?  While it may be seen as unpopular by some, it could give the Twins a possible front line starter for next to nothing cost wise.
    Thoughts?
  10. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to jimbo92107 for a blog entry, Louie Varland looks real   
    He's not a downward plane kinda pitcher, more like Cole Sands in that his whole delivery seems to happen down low. Louie Varland looks legit to me. When I saw his compact delivery, it reminded me a little of Bartolo Colon, who looked like a converted catcher. The tight snap from behind the ear, no big, loopy wind-up, is a style that works well for some good pitchers, like Grienke. The quick delivery and up-tempo pace will help him surprise some hitters, who are accustomed to a more relaxed pace. Less time between pitches means less time for the hitter to process the pitching sequence and predict the next one. That and the compact delivery also means less time for a runner to read the pitcher's move to home...or not. 
    One thing that really impressed me was his K of Judge in the first. Got him with a beautiful diving change that caught the inside corner. He could throw a dozen of those to Judge, and I bet the guy still couldn't straighten that one out. Especially if he also can zip a heater high in the zone just previous. Point is, it looks to me like Varland can do just that. His command of several pitches is better than Joe Ryan's, not counting Ryan's heater, which is his one great pitch. Varland doesn't appear to have one great pitch, but he's got several very good ones, which bodes well. 
    If his arm doesn't fall off, keep this young stud in the rotation. Twins have found themselves another good young pitcher. 
  11. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Matt Braun for a blog entry, Matt's Top Prospect List (June) + Explanations   
    Royce Lewis Royce Lewis is still the best prospect in the Twins’ system, but the soul refuses to accept that truth. Lewis will now miss extended time with another ACL surgery, and it’s impossible to feel anything but grief and sympathy for the man; he’s an elite talent that life continues to deal poor hands to maniacally. His major league performance proved that he’s capable of great things, and all we can do is hope that he’ll come back without missing a beat as he did before.                                                                                     
    -------------------------       
    Austin Martin  .311. That number represents a crappy rock band from the 90s and Austin Martin’s season slugging percentage as of June 29th. It will be impossible for Martin to fulfill his destiny as a high-level number 2 hitter unless he—at the very least—finds his .380s slugging mark from last season. I’m not sure why he’s suddenly trying to put the ball in play with no regard for extra-base damage, but it is failing; he has 11 extra-base hits in 60 games. We knew Martin would never become Sammy Sosa at the plate, but he desperately needs a buoyant power level from which his excellent OBP skills can consistently launch upwards. Martin is also not a shortstop.
    Noah Miller      Now we get to the messy part of the system. I like Noah Miller, but he has cooled off tremendously since his blistering May; this is the danger in trying to rank recently-drafted high school players. I’ll stick with my guns and say that he’s a future star—his defense and on-base abilities are still undeniably elite—but that statement carries less oomph than it did just a month ago. I believe he’ll grow into some power, but he probably will never be Fernando Tatís Jr. out there; instead, I see him as a jack-of-all-trades type of quality shortstop.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
    Emmanuel Rodriguez    Have you ever heard about the tragedy of Emmanuel Rodriguez the wise? Rodriguez was laying waste to low-A pitchers before he tore up his knee, costing him at least the rest of this season. Knee injuries for athletic marvels like Rodriguez are still scary, but Lewis’ success in returning from one proved that it might not be worrisome. It’s a shame, Rodriguez’s play was cartoonishly dominant, but we’ll have to wait a while before seeing him on the field again. The long-term outlook remains sturdy, but the short-term playing time loss hurts.
    Jordan Balazovic Aaron Gleeman recently noted that Jordan Balazovic is dealing with a knee issue that has curtailed his effectiveness this season. Maybe it’s weird to say this, but knowing that fact improves my opinion on Balazovic; his under-performance has to do with injury, not a sudden loss in ability. Still, he’s walking far too many hitters at AAA and gives up contact loud enough to break the sound barrier. I’ve knocked him down a few spots already, and the slide will continue unless he changes something quick.
    Spencer Steer Is Spencer Steer the only top name here with an unimpeachable performance in 2022? The Oregon product is slaying the ball, slashing .277/.360/.577 between AA and AAA with only a slight drop-off in production since his promotion; a low BABIP may be the culprit. He’s no defensive whizz, but he doesn’t need to be with that bat, and he should be firmly implanted in the Twins’ future infield plans. I debated placing him above Balazovic, but since Steer has less overall time as an elite player, I gave the nod to the pitcher for now.
    -------------------------
    Simeon Woods Richardson Simeon Woods Richardson was pitching well, and then he got injured because of course he did. I was still deeply suspicious of his performance—4.87 xFIP and all—but he at least had a nice ERA, and that’s better than nothing. I don’t think he has unquestionably shed the narrative that he can’t pitch at AA; Woods Richardson is striking out fewer batters than he did at every other level in the minors before this season. Yet, he’s still just 21 years old, so it would be foolish to write him off yet. It’s strange that that team placed him on the IL with no explanation or announcement. 
    Edouard Julien I’m uncomfortable placing Edouard Julien this high on the list, but I also don’t know who would reasonably overtake him. Julien is positionless, but who cares about that when you walk 20% of the time. He has had a suspicious drop-off in power (.138 ISO this season), which could be an ominous sign of future disappointment; until that shoe drops, he’ll remain a top-10 prospect on my list.
    Cade Povich Cade Povich is probably my new favorite Twins pitching prospect. The lefty has been dominant, striking out hitters at a 32.7% clip with an average walk rate and few homers; that’s a great combination, by the way. Povich has little left to prove at A+ and will be pitching in Wichita sooner than later. Just pray that his arm doesn’t fall off.
    Marco Raya I think the hype train on Marco Raya has accelerated a touch too quickly, but I can understand why. Raya combines the top-dog mentality needed in an ace with top-tier stuff; that’s an excellent combination for a pitching prospect. The drawback remains: Raya has 36 innings over 10 appearances and just recently left a start after netting two outs. Are the Twins using kid gloves to handle him? Probably, but I need a nice, unquestionably dominant run from Raya before I move him up any further; TINSTAAP and all that jazz. 
    Cole Sands Yeah, I’m still too high on Cole Sands. His command needs tweaks that may be beyond his abilities—how many players suddenly drastically improve in their fourth year with a team—but that sweeper is what keeps Sands up here. His breaking ball is ridiculous, mimicking the great American migration of the early 1900s in how it moves from East to West with great efficiency. The rest of his profile is meh, but he’ll always have potential thanks to his vicious breaking ball.
    David Festa David Festa is the most pop-up-y pitching prospect in the system; as a 13th-round pick, he’s punching out hitters at a 30.4% mark over 54 ⅔ innings split between A and A+ ball. His status as an “un-prospect” may benefit him, as the team is less likely to baby him, instead throwing him to the wolves where he can prove his ability. Festa may reach AA this season—he’s pitched that well—and we should know more about him once he does.
    Christian Encarnacion-Strand It’s been a while since CES went berserk in April to the tune of a billion RBIs (at least that’s what it felt like). No, he’s not that good, but he is a solid hitter. Encarnacion-Strand’s beautiful slash line is .291/.357/.567, which will play in any league, which is good because he cannot field even a little bit. Errors are far from the end-all stat they used to be, but he has 21 of them in just over 400 innings at 3rd base this season; that’s bad. Being a future 1st base/DH type player curtails his upside, so his entire prospect pedigree rests on the power of his bat.
    -------------------------   
    Matt Wallner I think I was too harsh on Matt Wallner last month. I emphatically stated that a player with his strikeout numbers would need to be otherworldly in other aspects to offset the K. His response? Walk a lot. I still hold those reservations, but if his new monstrous walk rate (21.4% in June) is even slightly sticky, he has a solid shot at becoming a major league contributor. Also, he owns an absolute cannon in right field.
    Blayne Enlow Blayne Enlow is dipping his toes into the minor league waters after a missed year, so I find it difficult to evaluate him too harshly. The numbers aren’t great, but that barely matters; him just being on the mound is good enough for the moment. At some point, slack will no longer exist, but I’m okay with punting on criticizing him for now. 
    Louie Varland In a season that has been chaotic for so many players, Louie Varland chugs along like nothing is wrong. The Minnesota native’s under-the-hood stats aren’t the best—he’s walking more batters than he did in his stellar 2021 campaign—but the rest of his profile appears solid. His 68 ⅓ innings leads the entire Twins minor league system.
    Brent Headrick Brent Headrick might be the biggest under-the-radar name in the Twins system. As a late-blooming 24-year-old in A+ ball, Headrick has utterly dominated with a 2.40 ERA and a strikeout rate above 30%. It’s hard to scout prospects in this vein; I give Headrick the benefit of the doubt until/if his numbers reverse.
    Ronny Henriquez What do we make of Ronny Henriquez? Sure, he’s still just 22 years old, but there’s little to latch onto regarding his AAA play so far. It seems that the Twins are okay with letting him die at that level, given that his ERA is 6.95 and his FIP isn’t far behind (6.07). At some point, I need performance to outweigh pedigree; that needs to change soon for Henriquez.                                                                          
    Matt Canterino      I’ll try to be as diplomatic as possible: Matt Canterino has not yet shown the ability to be a consistent, innings-eating top-level arm. He recently set his single-season record for innings pitched as a professional (34 ⅓) before another elbow injury sidelined him for a significant time. I don’t see real reasons for optimism; the Rice background combined with these injuries leaves little faith in him ever becoming the big front-of-the-rotation starter we expected of him. 
    Steve Hajjar Steve Hajjar was following in the Cade Povich breakout mold until a shoulder injury in the middle of June stopped him in his tracks. Shoulder problems are not the death sentence they once were, but that ailment is still something to keep an eye on for the future.
    Sawyer Gipson-Long Sawyer Gipon-Long is shockingly similar to Brent Headrick; he is also an old-for-his-level breakout prospect looking to prove that he isn’t a fluke. The process is farther along for Gipson-Long as he recently enjoyed a promotion to AA Wichita; he has one clunker and two solid starts. The rest of the season will be essential to understand Gipson-Long more as a prospect.
    -------------------------
    Kala’i Rosario Kala’i Rosario dropped three points off his strikeout rate since I last wrote about him, but that still leaves him at 36.0%. My view on players with a penchant for whiffing is well known; you must do something extraordinary to offset the Ks. Rosario has good power (.204 ISO) and is still just a teenager, so he still possesses the rare chance to evolve into an elite power threat.
    Michael Helman Not mentioning Michael Helman was probably my last ranking’s worst mistake. The 26-year-old has quietly hit well at every level in the minors and is now knocking on the Major’s door thanks to his 125 wRC+ at AAA. Is this just Brian Dinkelman 2.0? Maybe, and that’s not just because of how similar their last names are. Helman could debut soon if the Twins desperately smash the “break in case of emergency” glass if a few too many infielders suffer injuries.
    Brayan Medina Brayan Medina finally pitched in the Twins system for the first time this month. He’s thrown fewer than 10 innings, so who knows where he’s at in his development, but the stuff descriptions are good, so he’ll stay here until further notice.
    Aaron Sabato Aaron Sabato’s slash line is still not optimal for a great 1st base prospect. The walks are good (14.2%), but he doesn’t neutralize his strikeout tendencies with overwhelming power (.171 ISO). I remain skeptical that Sabato will develop into the type of player the Twins expected when they drafted him.
    Alerick Soularie I didn’t rank Alerick Soularie in my last write-up, but the guy put up a 144 wRC+ in June, and now here he is. His play rounded more into form; he struck out a little less, walked a little more, and ballooned his ISO from .114 to .167. If he’s genuinely backing his elite athletic ability with a more sound game, Soularie could rocket up this list.
    Misael Urbina Misael Urbina just recently popped back up in the Twins system after dealing with visa issues earlier in the year. He’s played a few games in the DSL; he’ll likely rejoin Fort Myers when he’s back in the groove. 
    Keoni Cavaco Keoni Cavaco rebounded a little bit in June (101 wRC+), but his walk and strikeout rates remain heavily lopsided, and his power does not make up for it (.151 ISO). Maybe the play improvement will aid his confidence; he needs to improve his performance before people buy back into his prospect stock.
    Jake Rucker Jake Rucker recently earned a promotion to A+ ball after holding his own with Fort Myers (100 wRC+). He’s 22 years old, so the Twins might accelerate his movement through the system; keep an eye on him in the Michael Helman under-the-radar vein. 
    Travis Adams All Travis Adams has done this season is pitch well for Fort Myers. The former 6th-round pick is crushing with a 3.10 ERA and peripherals to match. There’s still an unknown factor to his game that will only clear once he plays in A+ ball and beyond, which should be soon.
     
  12. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Brock Beauchamp for a blog entry, The Community Awards are approaching their first anniversary and you want this prize   
    While we try to keep the cost of our prizes reasonable, for the first anniversary of the awards, I had an idea and I was going to spend as much as it required to find this gem of a prize.
    After quite some time searching - I'd rather not say how long - I've found the ultimate prize for the top mid-season Community Award.

    A signed baseball bat.
    A signed Kyle Lohse baseball bat.
    A signed Kyle Lohse baseball bat with his Twins jersey number on it.
    What's astounding about this find is that Lohse played a significant portion of his career in the National League... a league where he never wore the number 49.
    Why is a Kyle Lohse baseball bat significant? He was a pitcher, after all... well, this is why. 
    Is this the bat Kyle Lohse used to smash ol' Ronnie's door? I mean, probably not... but if Pete Rose can sell his #4192 bat over and over again for profit, we can all pretend that this bat first (only?) saw action against an office door in the Metrodome on that random night in September of 2005. Who's to say otherwise, really?
    So, dear Twins Daily community member, if you want this prize, start typing, for it will only be available to the user who writes the most popular post on the Twins Daily forums in the first half of the 2022 campaign.
    PS. I've scoured eBay for months but have yet to find an auction for the accompanying Ron Gardenhire office door but should you come across one - legally or otherwise - you know where to find me and I'm willing to pay big for it.
  13. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Baseball in the Klondike   
    I enjoy the history of baseball and that is why in the past I have written about Tom Custer and Wild Bill Hickok playing baseball.  Another story that is among the lesser known baseball games was played in Skagway during the height of the Gold Rush.  
    The game was played on Independence day in 1901 and unlike the rest of the baseball world it was a team of black Buffalo Soldiers and White Railroad workers. 
    The soldiers were assigned to this remote Alaskan wilderness to bring law and order where there was no law and certainly no order.  A man known as Corporal Green was the captain of the Company L Soldier nine and a man by the name of Phelps led the railroad workers. It was about bragging rights and a prize of $50 for first place and $25 for second.
    Played near the Moore's sawmill there was beer from the Skagway Brewing Company and vendor of ice cream, lemonade, and milk.
    In the stands were miners, railroad workers, prostitutes, gamblers, and soldiers.  It was a lively crowd and the game was a three hour affair (so much for short games) with umps from the townspeople who may or may not have known the rules.
    The White Pass RR men wore blue trousers, black shirts and caps while the soldiers had numbered shirts, knickers, and striped socks.
    In the end the RR men (umpires decisions or not) won the game 14 - 10 and the crowd was ecstatic.  That was baseball in the Klondike.

  14. Like
    MN_ExPat got a reaction from Squirrel for a blog entry, An Overview and Brief History of the Minor Leagues   
    After reading Rosterman's articles about where they are now players, I was inspired to create this article about the minors and some of it's history.  I think this stuff is pretty fascinating and at times I geek out about learning about it.  Would I have shamelessly "re-appropriated" much of this material from elsewhere if the league wasn't in a self-induced coma?  Possibly not, but either way I still love to share things I find out and learn about the greatest game on the face of the earth.
    So proceed on dear traveler and be forewarned, for here be dragons (ok that miiiight be a huge stretch but you can't blame a guy for warning you this might be a little dry for some folks )
    An Overview and Brief History of the Minor Leagues
    The earliest professional baseball league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players of 1871 to 1875, commonly referred to as the National Association, comprised all fully professional teams. This system proved unworkable, however, as there was no way to ensure competitive balance, and financially unsound clubs often failed in midseason. This problem was solved in 1876 with the formation of the National League (NL), with a limited membership which excluded less competitive and financially weaker teams. Professional clubs outside the NL responded by forming regional associations of their own. There was a series of ad hoc groupings, such as the New England Association of 1877 and the Eastern Championship Association of 1881. These were loose groups of independent clubs which agreed to play a series of games over the course of one season for a championship pennant.
      Patrick T. Powers, first president of the NAPBL   Jigger Statz played in over 2500 minor league games The first true minor league is traditionally considered to be the Northwestern League of 1883 to 1884.  Unlike the earlier minor associations, it was conceived as a permanent organization. It also, along with the NL and the American Association (AA), was a party to the National Agreement of 1883.  Included in this was the agreement to respect the reserve lists of clubs in each league.  Teams in the NL and the AA could only reserve players who had been paid at least $1,000. Northwest League teams could reserve players paid $750, implicitly establishing the division into major and minor leagues. Over the next two decades, more minor leagues signed various versions of the National Agreement. Eventually, the minor leagues joined to negotiate jointly.
    In the late 1890s, the Western League run by Ban Johnson decided to challenge the NL's position. In 1900, he changed the name of the league to the American League (AL) and vowed to make deals to sign contracts with players who were dissatisfied with the pay and terms of their deals with the NL. This led to a turf war that heated up in 1901 enough to concern Patrick T. Powers, president of the Eastern League, and many other minor league owners about the conflict potentially affecting their organizations. Representatives of the different minor leagues met at the Leland Hotel in Chicago on September 5, 1901.  In response to the NL–AL battle, they agreed to form the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL), sometimes shortened to National Association (NA),  which would later adopt the trade name "Minor League Baseball".  The purpose of the NAPBL at the time was to maintain the independence of the leagues involved. Several did not sign the agreement and continued to work independently. Powers was made the first president of the NAPBL, whose offices were established in Auburn, New York.
    In 1903, the conflict between the AL and NL ended in the National Agreement of 1903.  The NAPBL became involved in the later stages of the negotiations to develop rules for the acquisition of players from their leagues by the NL and the AL. The 1903 agreement ensured that teams would be compensated for the players that they had taken the time and effort to scout and develop, and no NA team was required to sell their players, although most did because the cash was an important source of revenue for most teams. The NA leagues were still fiercely independent, and the term minor was seldom used in reference to them, save by the major-market sportswriters. Sports news, like most news generally, often did not travel far in the days before radio and television, so, while the leagues often bristled at the major market writers' descriptions, they viewed themselves as independent sports businesses. Many baseball writers of that time regarded the greatest players of the minor leagues, such as Buzz Arlett, Jigger Statz, Ike Boone, Buddy Ryan, Earl Rapp and Frank Shellenback, as comparable to major league players. Leagues in the NA would not be truly called minor until Branch Rickey developed the first modern farm system in the 1930s. The Commissioner of Baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis fought Rickey's scheme, but, ultimately, the Great Depression drove teams to establish systems like Rickey's to ensure a steady supply of players, as many NA and independent teams could not afford to keep their doors open without the patronage of Major League Baseball. The leagues of the NA became subordinate to the major leagues, creating the first minor leagues in the current sense of the term. Other than the Pacific Coast League (PCL), which under its president Pants Rowland tried to become a third major league in the Western states, the other leagues maintained autonomy in name only, being totally economically dependent upon the AL and NL.
    In 1922, the United States Supreme Court decision Federal Baseball Club v. National League (259 U.S. 200), which grants baseball a special immunity from antitrust laws, had a major effect on the minor leagues. The special immunity meant that the AL and NL could dictate terms under which every independent league did business. By 1925, major league baseball established a flat-fee purchase amount of $5,000 for the contract of any player from an NA member league team. This power was leveled primarily at the Baltimore Orioles, then a Triple-A team that had dominated the minors with stars.
    Classification history
    19th century
    The earliest classifications used in the minor leagues began circa 1890, for teams that were party to the National Agreement of 1883.  The different levels represented different levels of protection for player contracts and reserve clauses:
    Class A: contracts and reserve lists protected Class B: contracts and reserve lists protected, but a major league team could draft a player for a set price Class ? contracts protected Class ? contracts protected, but any higher class could draft a player for a set price Class E/F: no protection 20th century
    After the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues was founded in 1901, classifications were redefined:
    Class Aggregate population of
    cities in the league Salary cap
    (per month)
    team / player Draft fee Protection fee Class A more than 1 million $1800 / $175 n/a $50 Class B 400,001 to 1 million $1000 / $125 $300 $30 Class C 200,001 to 400,000 $800 / $100 $200 $20 Class D up to 200,000 $700 / $75 $100 $10  Draft fee set an amount for a team in a higher class to select a player; n/a for Class A as it would be up to each team to negotiate with an interested major league club.
     Protection fee reserved a player to a team, even after a contract expired, preventing the player for seeking employment with any other team.
      Joe DiMaggio during his time playing in the Pacific Coast League, circa 1933–1936 All minor leagues were classified, and had the following assignments entering the 1902 season:
    Class A: Eastern League, Western League Class B: Connecticut State League, New England League, New York State League, Pacific Northwest League, Southern League, Three-I League Class ? no league until 1903 Class ? Cotton States League, Iowa–South Dakota League, Missouri Valley League, North Carolina League, Pennsylvania State League, Texas League Additional classifications added prior to World War II were:[11]: 15–16 
    Class AA ("Double-A"): added in 1912 as the new highest level.[15] Double-A remained the highest level through 1945. Class A1: added in 1936, between Class A and Class AA.[16] Two Class A circuits, the Texas League and the Southern Association, were upgraded to A1 to signify their continued status as one step below the highest classification, then Double-A, and a notch above their former Class A peers, the New York–Pennsylvania League and Western League.[16] Class A1 remained in use through 1945. Class E: added in 1937, as the new lowest level, for players with no professional experience in Class D or higher.[16] The only Class E league that existed was the four-team Twin Ports League, which operated for less than a full season in 1943.[16] Postwar changes
      Jackie Robinson with the Triple-A Montreal Royals in July 1946 In 1946, with the minor leagues poised for unprecedented growth, the higher-level classifications were changed. Class AAA ("Triple-A") was created and the three Double-A circuits (the Pacific Coast League, International League, and the American Association) were reclassified into Triple-A.  Class A1 (comprising the Texas League, which had last operated in 1942, and the Southern Association) became Class AA.   Class A remained the third-highest classification, with lower levels still ranked Class B through Class D in descending order, with Class D being the equivalent of later Rookie leagues. The impact of the Korean War in 1950 caused a player shortage in many cities below Class B.
    In 1952, the "Open" classification was created.[17] The Pacific Coast League (PCL), which had been rated Triple-A since 1946, was the only minor league to obtain this classification, which it held through 1957.  At this time, the major leagues only extended as far west as St. Louis, Missouri, and as far south as Washington, D.C. This classification severely restricted the rights of the major leagues to draft players out of the PCL, and at the time it seemed like the PCL would eventually become a third major league. The PCL would revert to Triple-A in 1958, due to increasing television coverage of major league games and in light of the Dodgers and Giants moving to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.
    Reorganization of 1963
    A significant reorganization of the minor leagues took place in 1963, caused by the contraction of clubs and leagues during the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1949, the peak of the postwar minor league baseball boom, 448 teams in 59 leagues were members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, with the number of teams falling to 324 in 1952, and 243 in 1955.  By the end of 1963, only 15 leagues above Rookie-level survived in the United States and Canada.
    After the 1962 season, the Triple-A American Association—which had lost key markets such as Milwaukee, Kansas City, Minneapolis–Saint Paul and Houston to the Major Leagues since 1953—disbanded. The surviving International and Pacific Coast leagues absorbed the four remaining American Association franchises. Meanwhile, at the Double-A level and below there were even more significant changes:
    The two existing Class A circuits—the Eastern League and South Atlantic League—were upgraded to Double-A, joining the Texas League and the unaffiliated Mexican League, then Double-A, as members of this classification. This move was caused by the disbanding of the Southern Association after 1961, leaving the six-team Texas League as the only US-based Double-A circuit in 1962. In addition, many Major League parent teams had frequently treated the pre-1963 Eastern League and South Atlantic League as de facto Double-A circuits, one step (rather than two) below Triple-A. The Class B Carolina League and Northwest League, the Class C California League, Pioneer League and Northern League, and the Class D Florida State League, Georgia–Florida League, Midwest League, New York–Penn League, and Western Carolinas League were all designated Class A leagues. The unaffiliated Class C Mexican Central League was also designated as Class A. The Class D Appalachian League, then the only "short-season" circuit, was given a new designation as a Rookie league. Designations below Class A disappeared because the lower levels could not sustain operation during a large downturn in the financial fortunes of minor league baseball, due to factors including the rise of television broadcasts of major league sports across broad regions of the country. As part of the 1963 reorganization, Major League clubs increased their commitments to affiliate with minor league teams through Player Development Contracts, outright ownerships, or shared affiliations and co-op arrangements.[22]
    Further changes after 1963
    The minor league system that evolved following the 1963 reorganization remained in place through 2020, categorizing leagues into one of six classes: Triple-A (AAA), Double-A (AA), Class A-Advanced (High A or A+), Class A (Low A), Class A Short Season, and Rookie. Furthermore, Rookie was further informally subdivided into Rookie Advanced, complex-based Rookie, and international summer baseball.
    Triple-A: The American Association was revived as a Triple-A league in 1969 and flourished with the minor league baseball boom of the 1980s and 1990s. However, all of its teams were again absorbed into the International and Pacific Coast leagues in 1998 as part of a sweeping reorganization of the minors' top classification. The American Association and the International League also played an interlocking schedule during the late 1980s as part of the Triple-A Alliance. The Mexican League was upgraded from Double-A to Triple-A in 1967. Double-A: In 1964, the South Atlantic League changed its name to Southern League. In 1971, because of continued contraction (and Major League expansion) that left each circuit with only seven teams, the Texas League and Southern League formed the 14-team Dixie Association. The arrangement lasted only for that season, and the records and history of the constituent leagues were kept distinct. In 1972, each league added an eighth team, rebalancing their schedules. The leagues subsequently returned to prosperity with the revival of minor league baseball that began in the 1980s. Class A: two additional classifications evolved from Class A. Under the rules governing the affiliated minor leagues, these became separate classifications, despite the similarity in name: Beginning in 1965, Class A Short Season leagues played approximately 75 to 80 games per season, starting in mid-June and ending in early September, designed to allow college players to complete their college seasons in the spring, be selected in the MLB draft in June, signed, and then immediately placed in a competitive league. The classification was eliminated prior to the 2021 season, with the New York–Penn League and Northwest League as the only active leagues at this level.
    Further information: Class A Short Season
    The Class A-Advanced classification, one rung below Double-A, was introduced in 1990 for the California League, Carolina League, and Florida State League, splitting the Class A level even further.  Entering the 2021 season, three new "High-A" leagues were introduced in replacement of prior leagues at this level. Rookie Advanced: The Appalachian League and Pioneer League were classified as Rookie Advanced leagues beginning in 1991.[24][25] The players in these leagues were thought to be further along in their development than players in the pure Rookie leagues, and hence games were more competitive. Teams in these leagues were allowed to sell concessions and charge admission. In practice, many major league teams would have either one affiliate at this level or one affiliate in Class A Short Season but not both, making them de facto equivalent. The Rookie Advanced classification was eliminated prior to the 2021 season. Rookie: In 1964, the Pioneer League stepped down from Class A to Rookie league status, and the first "complex-based" leagues, the Sarasota Rookie League and the Cocoa Rookie League, made their debuts. The Sarasota Rookie League underwent a name change to the Florida Rookie League in 1965 before becoming the Gulf Coast League the next season. The Cocoa Rookie League lasted only one season, and the Florida East Coast League of 1972, based in the same region of the state, also existed for only one year. In 1989, a counterpart to the Gulf Coast League, the Arizona League, made its debut and it continues to operate as a Rookie-level league for MLB teams with spring training facilities based in Arizona. There have also been some failed start-up leagues. During the 1970s, three official minor leagues (members of NAPBL) attempted unsuccessfully to revive unaffiliated baseball (teams not associated with specific MLB franchises) within the organized baseball structure. These were the Class A Gulf States League (1976) and Lone Star League (1977), and the Triple-A Inter–American League (1979). None lasted more than a full season.
    Reorganization of 2021
      Rob Manfred In October 2019, Baseball America reported that Major League Baseball had proposed dramatic changes to MiLB that would take effect after expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement, which governed the MLB–MiLB relationship, at the end of the 2020 season. This included the elimination of many minor league teams. 
    In mid-November 2019, more than 100 members of the United States Congress signed a letter sent to Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred opposing the proposal, noting that it "is not in the best interest of the overall game of baseball" and that it would "devastate our communities, their bond purchasers and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs."  A response from MLB highlighted that the proposal aims to improve player travel and working conditions.
    On November 21, 2019, Minor League Baseball released a statement, asserting that it is "unnecessary and unacceptable to wipe out one-quarter of minor league teams" and characterized the proposal as a way "to improve the profitability of MLB".  Manfred rebuked Minor League Baseball for releasing the negotiations to the public and threatened to cut ties with MiLB altogether.
    The following changes, which represent the first significant overhaul of minor league classifications since 1963, have since been implemented:
    The Major League Baseball draft was moved from mid-June to July to coincide with the MLB All-Star Game, and reduced from 40 rounds to 20. The Rookie-level Appalachian League was converted to a collegiate summer baseball league designed for rising freshmen and sophomores. The independent American Association, Atlantic League, and Frontier League and formerly Rookie-level Pioneer League became MLB Partner Leagues, with the ability for MLB clubs to acquire players from the Partner Leagues to assign to affiliated clubs. The MLB Draft League, a "showcase league" for college players expected to be selected in the annual MLB Draft, was formed, with each team in the league playing a 68-game summer season. Four teams from the New York–Penn League (Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes, West Virginia Black Bears, and Williamsport Crosscutters), one from the Eastern League (Trenton Thunder), and one from the Carolina League (Frederick Keys) comprised the initial league when it debuted in May 2021. Three independent league teams—the St. Paul Saints, the Sugar Land Skeeters, and the Somerset Patriots—were brought into MiLB. The Skeeters became the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, the Saints became the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and the Patriots became the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The number of MiLB teams, not counting teams in the complex-based Arizona Complex League and Florida Complex League, both of which are directly owned by MLB, was reduced from 160 to 120. Short-Season A and domestic non-complex based Rookie leagues were eliminated entirely. The New York–Penn League was shut down, leaving seven of its teams without an invitation to join another league. Affiliate invites for 2021
    When MLB teams announced their affiliates for the 2021 season on December 9, 2020, each of the 30 MLB teams had one affiliate at four levels—Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Low-A—for a total of 120 affiliated teams.  Approximately 40 teams lost their MLB affiliations; the Fresno Grizzlies were demoted from Triple-A to Low-A; and the majority of surviving clubs at High-A and Low-A swapped levels, with the former Florida State League and California League dropped down nearly as intact units, the Northwest League and Midwest League promoted with 75% of their teams, the majority of the Carolina League shifting to the South Atlantic League, and the old SAL being parceled out among three leagues.
    League realignment
    On February 12, 2021, Major League Baseball announced new league alignments for all 120 affiliated Minor League Baseball clubs effective as of the 2021 season.  Contrary to previously published reports indicating that realignment would retain the names of the existing minor leagues, Major League Baseball elected to abandon the names of existing minor leagues in favor of a new, class- and region-based naming system.
    Triple-A was divided into two leagues: Triple-A East, consisting of 20 teams aligned into three divisions (Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast); and Triple-A West, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West). Double-A was divided into three leagues: Double-A Central, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (North and South); Double-A Northeast, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (Northeast and Southeast); and Double-A South, consisting of eight teams aligned into two divisions (North and South). High-A (formerly Class A-Advanced) was divided into three leagues: High-A Central, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West); High-A East, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (North and South); and High-A West, consisting of six teams without divisional alignment. Low-A (formerly Class A) was divided into three leagues: Low-A East, consisting of 12 teams aligned into three divisions (Central, North, and South); Low-A Southeast, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West); and Low-A West, consisting of eight teams aligned into two divisions (North and South).
    The US-based Rookie-level leagues were renamed prior to starting play in late June; the former Gulf Coast League was renamed as the Florida Complex League and the former Arizona League was renamed as the Arizona Complex League.
    Classification hierarchy
    The following classifications, listed from highest to lowest, have existed since the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (the formal name of Minor League Baseball) was established prior to the 1902 season. Only seasons where a change was made to the hierarchy are listed; class introductions after 1902 appear in bold font, while class eliminations appear in italics. Not all defined classifications were used each season.
    1902 1912 1936 1937 1946 1952 1958 1963 1965 1990 1991 2021 A B C D AA A B C D AA A1 A B C D AA A1 A B C D E AAA AA A B C D Open AAA AA A B C D AAA AA A B C D AAA AA A Rk AAA AA A A (Short) Rk AAA AA A-Adv A A (Short) Rk AAA AA A-Adv A A (Short) Rk-Adv Rk AAA AA High-A Low-A Rk         A1 E   Open B C D       A (Short) Rk-Adv Notes:
    High-A was formerly Class A-Advanced (A-Adv) before 2021 Low-A was formerly Class A before 2021 A (Short) denotes Class A Short Season Rk-Adv denotes Rookie Advanced Rk denotes Rookie Players
    Major league clubs may only use players who are on the team's major league active roster in games; players on the active roster are selected from a 40-man major league reserve list (often called the 40-man roster). Effective with the 2020 Major League Baseball season, the active roster size for each team is 26 players for regular games and 27 players for scheduled doubleheaders, with the roster size expanding to 28 players from September 1 through the end of the regular season.  Prior to the 2020 season, the active roster size from the start of the regular season until September 1 was 25 players, with a 26th player allowed for a scheduled doubleheader.  From September 1 to the end of the regular season, teams were allowed to expand their active rosters up to 40 players, the size of the major league reserve list.
      Players of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in July 2017 Players on the 40-man reserve list who are not on the team's active roster are generally either on the injured list or playing at some level of the minor leagues (usually at the Triple-A or Double-A level). Players on the 40-man reserve list are eligible for membership in the Major League Baseball Players Association. These minor league players work at the lower end of major league pay scales and are covered by all rules and player agreements of the players association. Minor league players not on the 40-man reserve list are under contract to their respective parent Major League Baseball clubs but have no union. They generally work for far less pay as they develop their skills and work their way up the ladder toward the major leagues.  Many players have signing bonuses and other additional compensation that can run into the millions of dollars, although that is generally reserved for early-round draft picks.
    A major league team's director of player development determines where a given player will be placed in the farm system, in coordination with the coaches and managers who evaluate their talent. At the end of spring training, players both from the spring major camp and minor league winter camp are placed by the major league club on the roster of a minor league team. The director of player development and the general manager usually determine the initial assignments for new draftees, who typically begin playing professionally in June after they have been signed to contracts. The farm system is ever-changing, and the evaluation of players is a constantly ongoing process. The director of player development and his managers meet or teleconference regularly to discuss how players are performing at each level. Personal development, injuries, and high levels of achievement by players in the classes below all steer a player's movement up and down in the class system.
    Players will play for the team to which they are assigned for the duration of that season unless they are "called up" (promoted to a higher level), "sent down" (demoted to a lower-class team in the major league club's farm system), or released from the farm system entirely. A release from minor-league level used to spell the end of a minor league player's career. In more modern times, released players often sign with independent baseball clubs, which are scouted heavily by major league organizations. Many players get a second or third look from the major league scouts if they improve in the independent leagues.
    Minor league salaries vary based on class level and length of season; however, the majority of players make less than $10,000 per season.  Although not playing at the major league level, minor league players are professional athletes. Minor league players often colloquially refer to the major leagues as "The Show".
    Rehabilitation assignments
      C C Sabathia of the New York Yankees with the Trenton Thunder in July 2014 Rehabilitating with Minor League teams is a standard way for injured Major League players to get back into playing shape.
    Players on the injured list (IL) can be sent to the minor leagues to aid in rehabilitation following an injury, typically for one or two weeks. Players are often sent to minor league clubs based on geography and facilities, not necessarily by class for these reassignments.
    Rehabbing major leaguers continue to receive Major League pay and generally enjoy better amenities than their minor league teammates.
    Former Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer, who missed most of the first two months of the 2011 season due to a difficult recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery after the 2010 season, reported to Minnesota's Class A-Advanced Florida State League team, the Fort Myers Miracle, which is based in their spring training facility in Fort Myers. The Miracle manager at the time was Mauer's older brother Jake.
    Mike Trout's first rehab assignment of his career, in July 2017, was with the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino, California, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. This allowed Trout to stay closer to the Angels compared to the team's Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees.
    Umpires
    Umpires at the minor league level are overseen by Minor League Baseball Umpire Development (MiLBUD), which is responsible for the training, evaluation, and recommendation for promotion and retention or release of the umpires.
    The umpires are evaluated eight times a season by the staff of MiLBUD and receive a ranking at mid-season and the end of each year. Based on performance during the year, an umpire may advance in classification when a position opens in-season or during the off-season. MiLBUD holds an annual Rookie Evaluation Course every year in March to evaluate rookie umpires. Participants are normally the best students from the two professional umpire schools (one owned and operated by the same entity). The top students who pass the evaluation course are recommended for the first openings in lower-level leagues.
      Ryan Blakney (left) and Ben May umpiring in the Midwest League in 2008 Any student who wants to work as an umpire must attend a professional umpire training school. Minor League Baseball recognizes two schools for training prospective professional umpires, the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School and Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy, both located in Florida. The Umpire Training Academy is owned and operated by MiLBUD, while the Wendelstedt Umpire School is independently owned by MLB umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. The classes for each school are held for five weeks in January and February. The instructors at these schools are former or present major or minor league umpires. Simply attending one of these schools, however, does not guarantee that the candidate will be recommended to the evaluation course or for openings in lower-level leagues. Generally, less than 20% of students move on to the Rookie Evaluation Course.
    Before a development program was created, minor league presidents would recruit directly from umpire schools. Umpires were then "sold" from league to league by word of mouth through the various league presidents.  The umpire development program first started in 1964, when it was decided that a method of recruitment, training, and development for umpires of both major and minor leagues was needed. The program was founded at baseball's 1964 Winter Meetings in Houston, and it began operating the next year. The program aimed to recruit more athletic, energetic, and dedicated individuals who would also have high morals and integrity standards. In 1968, it was decided that the program needed its own umpire training course, which would be held annually. The first "Umpire Specialization Course" was held in St. Petersburg, Florida, the following year.
    Minor league umpires have been unionized since 1999, when they formed the Association of Minor League Umpires (AMLU), which has been a guild within the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) since 2010.  A strike action occurred at the start of the 2006 season, spurred by a disagreement over salaries and resulting in the use of replacement umpires until an agreement was reached after two months.
    Main article: 2006 Minor League Baseball umpire strike Presently, the candidates for a job in professional umpiring must meet several requirements in order to be considered. An applicant must have a high school diploma or a G.E.D., must be athletic, and also must have 20/20 vision, although they are permitted to wear glasses or contact lenses. They must also have good communication skills, good reflexes and coordination, and must have trained at one of the two professional umpire schools.
    Ownership
      The 2011 Omaha Storm Chasers, Pacific Coast League champions Teams in the affiliated minor leagues are generally independently owned and operated, and are directly affiliated with one major league team. Affiliations are governed by standardized agreements; historically known as a Player Development Contract (PDC), as of 2021 the term Player Development License Agreement (PDL) is used.   Some minor league teams are directly owned by their major league parent club, such as the Springfield Cardinals, owned by the St. Louis Cardinals, and all of the New York Mets' affiliates except the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
    With the reorganization of 2021, the standard length of an affiliation agreement is 10 years.  Previously, affiliations were for only two or four years, with affiliation changes being fairly frequent, though many relationships have been renewed and endure for extended time periods. For example, the Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly the Omaha Royals and Omaha Golden Spikes) have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals since the Royals joined the American League in 1969, but the Columbus Clippers, having been affiliated with the New York Yankees since 1979, changed affiliations to the Washington Nationals in 2007, and again changed to the Cleveland Indians two years later in 2009.
    Generally, the parent major league club pays the salaries and benefits of uniformed personnel (players and coaches) and provides bats and balls, while the minor league club pays for in-season travel and other operational expenses.
    The longest continuous affiliations are between the Philadelphia Phillies and their Double-A affiliate, the Reading Fightin Phils and between the Detroit Tigers and their Low-A affiliate, the Lakeland Flying Tigers, both of which date to 1965. Both Reading and Lakeland are now owned outright by their parent major league clubs.
    Presidents
    Minor League Baseball was governed through a centralized office until the restructuring of the minor leagues in 2021, with Major League Baseball itself now handling "all issues related to governance, scheduling, umpiring, license compliance, and other league administration functions." Minor league headquarters were located in St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1973 onward.  As of 2009, Minor League Baseball had 27 employees in St. Petersburg.  Before coming under the direct control of MLB, 11 people served as president of Minor League Baseball:
      Former headquarters of Minor League Baseball in St. Petersburg, Florida Patrick T. Powers, 1901–1909 Michael H. Sexton, 1910–1932 William G. Bramham, 1933–1946 George Trautman, 1947–1963 Phil Piton, 1964–1971 Hank Peters, 1972–1975 Bobby Bragan, 1976–1978 John H. Johnson, 1979–1988 Sal Artiaga, 1988–1991 Mike Moore, 1992–2007 Pat O'Conner, 2007–2020 Independent baseball
    Main article: Independent baseball league   Haymarket Park, home to the Lincoln Saltdogs, an independent baseball team in Lincoln, Nebraska Independent leagues are those professional leagues in the United States and Canada not under the purview of organized Minor League Baseball and the Commissioner of Baseball. Independent baseball existed in the early 20th century and has become prominent again since 1993.
    Leagues operated mostly autonomously before 1902, when the majority joined the NAPBL. From then until 1915, a total of eight new and existing leagues remained independent. Most joined the National Association after one season of independence. Notable exceptions were the California League, which was independent in 1902 and from 1907 to 1909; the United States Baseball League, which folded during its independent 1912 season; and the Colonial League, a National Association Member that went independent in 1915 and then folded.  Another independent league, the Federal League, played at a level considered major league from 1914 to 1915.
    Few independent leagues existed between 1915 and 1993. Major exceptions included the Carolina League and the Quebec-based Provincial League. The Carolina League, based in the North Carolina Piedmont region, gained a reputation as a notorious "outlaw league" during its existence from 1936 to 1938.  The Provincial League fielded six teams across Quebec and was independent from 1948 to 1949. Similarly to early 20th-century independent leagues, it joined the National Association in 1950, playing for six more years.
    Independent leagues saw new growth after 1992, after the new Professional Baseball Agreement in organized baseball instituted more stringent revenue and stadium requirements on members.  Over the next eight years, at least 16 independent leagues formed, of which six existed in 2002.  As of the 2021 season, there are eight active leagues, with four of them acting as MLB Partner Leagues.
    Current Leagues and Affiliations
    Minor leagues
    Triple-A
    Triple-A East Triple-A West Double-A Double-A Central Double-A Northeast Double-A South High-A High-A Central High-A East High-A West Low-A Low-A East Low-A Southeast Low-A West Rookie Arizona Complex League Florida Complex League Dominican Summer League Off-season leagues Arizona Fall League Partner leagues American Association Atlantic League Frontier League Pioneer League Major League affiliations



     
     
  15. Like
    MN_ExPat got a reaction from Heiny for a blog entry, An Overview and Brief History of the Minor Leagues   
    After reading Rosterman's articles about where they are now players, I was inspired to create this article about the minors and some of it's history.  I think this stuff is pretty fascinating and at times I geek out about learning about it.  Would I have shamelessly "re-appropriated" much of this material from elsewhere if the league wasn't in a self-induced coma?  Possibly not, but either way I still love to share things I find out and learn about the greatest game on the face of the earth.
    So proceed on dear traveler and be forewarned, for here be dragons (ok that miiiight be a huge stretch but you can't blame a guy for warning you this might be a little dry for some folks )
    An Overview and Brief History of the Minor Leagues
    The earliest professional baseball league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players of 1871 to 1875, commonly referred to as the National Association, comprised all fully professional teams. This system proved unworkable, however, as there was no way to ensure competitive balance, and financially unsound clubs often failed in midseason. This problem was solved in 1876 with the formation of the National League (NL), with a limited membership which excluded less competitive and financially weaker teams. Professional clubs outside the NL responded by forming regional associations of their own. There was a series of ad hoc groupings, such as the New England Association of 1877 and the Eastern Championship Association of 1881. These were loose groups of independent clubs which agreed to play a series of games over the course of one season for a championship pennant.
      Patrick T. Powers, first president of the NAPBL   Jigger Statz played in over 2500 minor league games The first true minor league is traditionally considered to be the Northwestern League of 1883 to 1884.  Unlike the earlier minor associations, it was conceived as a permanent organization. It also, along with the NL and the American Association (AA), was a party to the National Agreement of 1883.  Included in this was the agreement to respect the reserve lists of clubs in each league.  Teams in the NL and the AA could only reserve players who had been paid at least $1,000. Northwest League teams could reserve players paid $750, implicitly establishing the division into major and minor leagues. Over the next two decades, more minor leagues signed various versions of the National Agreement. Eventually, the minor leagues joined to negotiate jointly.
    In the late 1890s, the Western League run by Ban Johnson decided to challenge the NL's position. In 1900, he changed the name of the league to the American League (AL) and vowed to make deals to sign contracts with players who were dissatisfied with the pay and terms of their deals with the NL. This led to a turf war that heated up in 1901 enough to concern Patrick T. Powers, president of the Eastern League, and many other minor league owners about the conflict potentially affecting their organizations. Representatives of the different minor leagues met at the Leland Hotel in Chicago on September 5, 1901.  In response to the NL–AL battle, they agreed to form the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL), sometimes shortened to National Association (NA),  which would later adopt the trade name "Minor League Baseball".  The purpose of the NAPBL at the time was to maintain the independence of the leagues involved. Several did not sign the agreement and continued to work independently. Powers was made the first president of the NAPBL, whose offices were established in Auburn, New York.
    In 1903, the conflict between the AL and NL ended in the National Agreement of 1903.  The NAPBL became involved in the later stages of the negotiations to develop rules for the acquisition of players from their leagues by the NL and the AL. The 1903 agreement ensured that teams would be compensated for the players that they had taken the time and effort to scout and develop, and no NA team was required to sell their players, although most did because the cash was an important source of revenue for most teams. The NA leagues were still fiercely independent, and the term minor was seldom used in reference to them, save by the major-market sportswriters. Sports news, like most news generally, often did not travel far in the days before radio and television, so, while the leagues often bristled at the major market writers' descriptions, they viewed themselves as independent sports businesses. Many baseball writers of that time regarded the greatest players of the minor leagues, such as Buzz Arlett, Jigger Statz, Ike Boone, Buddy Ryan, Earl Rapp and Frank Shellenback, as comparable to major league players. Leagues in the NA would not be truly called minor until Branch Rickey developed the first modern farm system in the 1930s. The Commissioner of Baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis fought Rickey's scheme, but, ultimately, the Great Depression drove teams to establish systems like Rickey's to ensure a steady supply of players, as many NA and independent teams could not afford to keep their doors open without the patronage of Major League Baseball. The leagues of the NA became subordinate to the major leagues, creating the first minor leagues in the current sense of the term. Other than the Pacific Coast League (PCL), which under its president Pants Rowland tried to become a third major league in the Western states, the other leagues maintained autonomy in name only, being totally economically dependent upon the AL and NL.
    In 1922, the United States Supreme Court decision Federal Baseball Club v. National League (259 U.S. 200), which grants baseball a special immunity from antitrust laws, had a major effect on the minor leagues. The special immunity meant that the AL and NL could dictate terms under which every independent league did business. By 1925, major league baseball established a flat-fee purchase amount of $5,000 for the contract of any player from an NA member league team. This power was leveled primarily at the Baltimore Orioles, then a Triple-A team that had dominated the minors with stars.
    Classification history
    19th century
    The earliest classifications used in the minor leagues began circa 1890, for teams that were party to the National Agreement of 1883.  The different levels represented different levels of protection for player contracts and reserve clauses:
    Class A: contracts and reserve lists protected Class B: contracts and reserve lists protected, but a major league team could draft a player for a set price Class ? contracts protected Class ? contracts protected, but any higher class could draft a player for a set price Class E/F: no protection 20th century
    After the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues was founded in 1901, classifications were redefined:
    Class Aggregate population of
    cities in the league Salary cap
    (per month)
    team / player Draft fee Protection fee Class A more than 1 million $1800 / $175 n/a $50 Class B 400,001 to 1 million $1000 / $125 $300 $30 Class C 200,001 to 400,000 $800 / $100 $200 $20 Class D up to 200,000 $700 / $75 $100 $10  Draft fee set an amount for a team in a higher class to select a player; n/a for Class A as it would be up to each team to negotiate with an interested major league club.
     Protection fee reserved a player to a team, even after a contract expired, preventing the player for seeking employment with any other team.
      Joe DiMaggio during his time playing in the Pacific Coast League, circa 1933–1936 All minor leagues were classified, and had the following assignments entering the 1902 season:
    Class A: Eastern League, Western League Class B: Connecticut State League, New England League, New York State League, Pacific Northwest League, Southern League, Three-I League Class ? no league until 1903 Class ? Cotton States League, Iowa–South Dakota League, Missouri Valley League, North Carolina League, Pennsylvania State League, Texas League Additional classifications added prior to World War II were:[11]: 15–16 
    Class AA ("Double-A"): added in 1912 as the new highest level.[15] Double-A remained the highest level through 1945. Class A1: added in 1936, between Class A and Class AA.[16] Two Class A circuits, the Texas League and the Southern Association, were upgraded to A1 to signify their continued status as one step below the highest classification, then Double-A, and a notch above their former Class A peers, the New York–Pennsylvania League and Western League.[16] Class A1 remained in use through 1945. Class E: added in 1937, as the new lowest level, for players with no professional experience in Class D or higher.[16] The only Class E league that existed was the four-team Twin Ports League, which operated for less than a full season in 1943.[16] Postwar changes
      Jackie Robinson with the Triple-A Montreal Royals in July 1946 In 1946, with the minor leagues poised for unprecedented growth, the higher-level classifications were changed. Class AAA ("Triple-A") was created and the three Double-A circuits (the Pacific Coast League, International League, and the American Association) were reclassified into Triple-A.  Class A1 (comprising the Texas League, which had last operated in 1942, and the Southern Association) became Class AA.   Class A remained the third-highest classification, with lower levels still ranked Class B through Class D in descending order, with Class D being the equivalent of later Rookie leagues. The impact of the Korean War in 1950 caused a player shortage in many cities below Class B.
    In 1952, the "Open" classification was created.[17] The Pacific Coast League (PCL), which had been rated Triple-A since 1946, was the only minor league to obtain this classification, which it held through 1957.  At this time, the major leagues only extended as far west as St. Louis, Missouri, and as far south as Washington, D.C. This classification severely restricted the rights of the major leagues to draft players out of the PCL, and at the time it seemed like the PCL would eventually become a third major league. The PCL would revert to Triple-A in 1958, due to increasing television coverage of major league games and in light of the Dodgers and Giants moving to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.
    Reorganization of 1963
    A significant reorganization of the minor leagues took place in 1963, caused by the contraction of clubs and leagues during the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1949, the peak of the postwar minor league baseball boom, 448 teams in 59 leagues were members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, with the number of teams falling to 324 in 1952, and 243 in 1955.  By the end of 1963, only 15 leagues above Rookie-level survived in the United States and Canada.
    After the 1962 season, the Triple-A American Association—which had lost key markets such as Milwaukee, Kansas City, Minneapolis–Saint Paul and Houston to the Major Leagues since 1953—disbanded. The surviving International and Pacific Coast leagues absorbed the four remaining American Association franchises. Meanwhile, at the Double-A level and below there were even more significant changes:
    The two existing Class A circuits—the Eastern League and South Atlantic League—were upgraded to Double-A, joining the Texas League and the unaffiliated Mexican League, then Double-A, as members of this classification. This move was caused by the disbanding of the Southern Association after 1961, leaving the six-team Texas League as the only US-based Double-A circuit in 1962. In addition, many Major League parent teams had frequently treated the pre-1963 Eastern League and South Atlantic League as de facto Double-A circuits, one step (rather than two) below Triple-A. The Class B Carolina League and Northwest League, the Class C California League, Pioneer League and Northern League, and the Class D Florida State League, Georgia–Florida League, Midwest League, New York–Penn League, and Western Carolinas League were all designated Class A leagues. The unaffiliated Class C Mexican Central League was also designated as Class A. The Class D Appalachian League, then the only "short-season" circuit, was given a new designation as a Rookie league. Designations below Class A disappeared because the lower levels could not sustain operation during a large downturn in the financial fortunes of minor league baseball, due to factors including the rise of television broadcasts of major league sports across broad regions of the country. As part of the 1963 reorganization, Major League clubs increased their commitments to affiliate with minor league teams through Player Development Contracts, outright ownerships, or shared affiliations and co-op arrangements.[22]
    Further changes after 1963
    The minor league system that evolved following the 1963 reorganization remained in place through 2020, categorizing leagues into one of six classes: Triple-A (AAA), Double-A (AA), Class A-Advanced (High A or A+), Class A (Low A), Class A Short Season, and Rookie. Furthermore, Rookie was further informally subdivided into Rookie Advanced, complex-based Rookie, and international summer baseball.
    Triple-A: The American Association was revived as a Triple-A league in 1969 and flourished with the minor league baseball boom of the 1980s and 1990s. However, all of its teams were again absorbed into the International and Pacific Coast leagues in 1998 as part of a sweeping reorganization of the minors' top classification. The American Association and the International League also played an interlocking schedule during the late 1980s as part of the Triple-A Alliance. The Mexican League was upgraded from Double-A to Triple-A in 1967. Double-A: In 1964, the South Atlantic League changed its name to Southern League. In 1971, because of continued contraction (and Major League expansion) that left each circuit with only seven teams, the Texas League and Southern League formed the 14-team Dixie Association. The arrangement lasted only for that season, and the records and history of the constituent leagues were kept distinct. In 1972, each league added an eighth team, rebalancing their schedules. The leagues subsequently returned to prosperity with the revival of minor league baseball that began in the 1980s. Class A: two additional classifications evolved from Class A. Under the rules governing the affiliated minor leagues, these became separate classifications, despite the similarity in name: Beginning in 1965, Class A Short Season leagues played approximately 75 to 80 games per season, starting in mid-June and ending in early September, designed to allow college players to complete their college seasons in the spring, be selected in the MLB draft in June, signed, and then immediately placed in a competitive league. The classification was eliminated prior to the 2021 season, with the New York–Penn League and Northwest League as the only active leagues at this level.
    Further information: Class A Short Season
    The Class A-Advanced classification, one rung below Double-A, was introduced in 1990 for the California League, Carolina League, and Florida State League, splitting the Class A level even further.  Entering the 2021 season, three new "High-A" leagues were introduced in replacement of prior leagues at this level. Rookie Advanced: The Appalachian League and Pioneer League were classified as Rookie Advanced leagues beginning in 1991.[24][25] The players in these leagues were thought to be further along in their development than players in the pure Rookie leagues, and hence games were more competitive. Teams in these leagues were allowed to sell concessions and charge admission. In practice, many major league teams would have either one affiliate at this level or one affiliate in Class A Short Season but not both, making them de facto equivalent. The Rookie Advanced classification was eliminated prior to the 2021 season. Rookie: In 1964, the Pioneer League stepped down from Class A to Rookie league status, and the first "complex-based" leagues, the Sarasota Rookie League and the Cocoa Rookie League, made their debuts. The Sarasota Rookie League underwent a name change to the Florida Rookie League in 1965 before becoming the Gulf Coast League the next season. The Cocoa Rookie League lasted only one season, and the Florida East Coast League of 1972, based in the same region of the state, also existed for only one year. In 1989, a counterpart to the Gulf Coast League, the Arizona League, made its debut and it continues to operate as a Rookie-level league for MLB teams with spring training facilities based in Arizona. There have also been some failed start-up leagues. During the 1970s, three official minor leagues (members of NAPBL) attempted unsuccessfully to revive unaffiliated baseball (teams not associated with specific MLB franchises) within the organized baseball structure. These were the Class A Gulf States League (1976) and Lone Star League (1977), and the Triple-A Inter–American League (1979). None lasted more than a full season.
    Reorganization of 2021
      Rob Manfred In October 2019, Baseball America reported that Major League Baseball had proposed dramatic changes to MiLB that would take effect after expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement, which governed the MLB–MiLB relationship, at the end of the 2020 season. This included the elimination of many minor league teams. 
    In mid-November 2019, more than 100 members of the United States Congress signed a letter sent to Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred opposing the proposal, noting that it "is not in the best interest of the overall game of baseball" and that it would "devastate our communities, their bond purchasers and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs."  A response from MLB highlighted that the proposal aims to improve player travel and working conditions.
    On November 21, 2019, Minor League Baseball released a statement, asserting that it is "unnecessary and unacceptable to wipe out one-quarter of minor league teams" and characterized the proposal as a way "to improve the profitability of MLB".  Manfred rebuked Minor League Baseball for releasing the negotiations to the public and threatened to cut ties with MiLB altogether.
    The following changes, which represent the first significant overhaul of minor league classifications since 1963, have since been implemented:
    The Major League Baseball draft was moved from mid-June to July to coincide with the MLB All-Star Game, and reduced from 40 rounds to 20. The Rookie-level Appalachian League was converted to a collegiate summer baseball league designed for rising freshmen and sophomores. The independent American Association, Atlantic League, and Frontier League and formerly Rookie-level Pioneer League became MLB Partner Leagues, with the ability for MLB clubs to acquire players from the Partner Leagues to assign to affiliated clubs. The MLB Draft League, a "showcase league" for college players expected to be selected in the annual MLB Draft, was formed, with each team in the league playing a 68-game summer season. Four teams from the New York–Penn League (Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes, West Virginia Black Bears, and Williamsport Crosscutters), one from the Eastern League (Trenton Thunder), and one from the Carolina League (Frederick Keys) comprised the initial league when it debuted in May 2021. Three independent league teams—the St. Paul Saints, the Sugar Land Skeeters, and the Somerset Patriots—were brought into MiLB. The Skeeters became the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, the Saints became the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and the Patriots became the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The number of MiLB teams, not counting teams in the complex-based Arizona Complex League and Florida Complex League, both of which are directly owned by MLB, was reduced from 160 to 120. Short-Season A and domestic non-complex based Rookie leagues were eliminated entirely. The New York–Penn League was shut down, leaving seven of its teams without an invitation to join another league. Affiliate invites for 2021
    When MLB teams announced their affiliates for the 2021 season on December 9, 2020, each of the 30 MLB teams had one affiliate at four levels—Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Low-A—for a total of 120 affiliated teams.  Approximately 40 teams lost their MLB affiliations; the Fresno Grizzlies were demoted from Triple-A to Low-A; and the majority of surviving clubs at High-A and Low-A swapped levels, with the former Florida State League and California League dropped down nearly as intact units, the Northwest League and Midwest League promoted with 75% of their teams, the majority of the Carolina League shifting to the South Atlantic League, and the old SAL being parceled out among three leagues.
    League realignment
    On February 12, 2021, Major League Baseball announced new league alignments for all 120 affiliated Minor League Baseball clubs effective as of the 2021 season.  Contrary to previously published reports indicating that realignment would retain the names of the existing minor leagues, Major League Baseball elected to abandon the names of existing minor leagues in favor of a new, class- and region-based naming system.
    Triple-A was divided into two leagues: Triple-A East, consisting of 20 teams aligned into three divisions (Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast); and Triple-A West, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West). Double-A was divided into three leagues: Double-A Central, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (North and South); Double-A Northeast, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (Northeast and Southeast); and Double-A South, consisting of eight teams aligned into two divisions (North and South). High-A (formerly Class A-Advanced) was divided into three leagues: High-A Central, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West); High-A East, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (North and South); and High-A West, consisting of six teams without divisional alignment. Low-A (formerly Class A) was divided into three leagues: Low-A East, consisting of 12 teams aligned into three divisions (Central, North, and South); Low-A Southeast, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West); and Low-A West, consisting of eight teams aligned into two divisions (North and South).
    The US-based Rookie-level leagues were renamed prior to starting play in late June; the former Gulf Coast League was renamed as the Florida Complex League and the former Arizona League was renamed as the Arizona Complex League.
    Classification hierarchy
    The following classifications, listed from highest to lowest, have existed since the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (the formal name of Minor League Baseball) was established prior to the 1902 season. Only seasons where a change was made to the hierarchy are listed; class introductions after 1902 appear in bold font, while class eliminations appear in italics. Not all defined classifications were used each season.
    1902 1912 1936 1937 1946 1952 1958 1963 1965 1990 1991 2021 A B C D AA A B C D AA A1 A B C D AA A1 A B C D E AAA AA A B C D Open AAA AA A B C D AAA AA A B C D AAA AA A Rk AAA AA A A (Short) Rk AAA AA A-Adv A A (Short) Rk AAA AA A-Adv A A (Short) Rk-Adv Rk AAA AA High-A Low-A Rk         A1 E   Open B C D       A (Short) Rk-Adv Notes:
    High-A was formerly Class A-Advanced (A-Adv) before 2021 Low-A was formerly Class A before 2021 A (Short) denotes Class A Short Season Rk-Adv denotes Rookie Advanced Rk denotes Rookie Players
    Major league clubs may only use players who are on the team's major league active roster in games; players on the active roster are selected from a 40-man major league reserve list (often called the 40-man roster). Effective with the 2020 Major League Baseball season, the active roster size for each team is 26 players for regular games and 27 players for scheduled doubleheaders, with the roster size expanding to 28 players from September 1 through the end of the regular season.  Prior to the 2020 season, the active roster size from the start of the regular season until September 1 was 25 players, with a 26th player allowed for a scheduled doubleheader.  From September 1 to the end of the regular season, teams were allowed to expand their active rosters up to 40 players, the size of the major league reserve list.
      Players of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in July 2017 Players on the 40-man reserve list who are not on the team's active roster are generally either on the injured list or playing at some level of the minor leagues (usually at the Triple-A or Double-A level). Players on the 40-man reserve list are eligible for membership in the Major League Baseball Players Association. These minor league players work at the lower end of major league pay scales and are covered by all rules and player agreements of the players association. Minor league players not on the 40-man reserve list are under contract to their respective parent Major League Baseball clubs but have no union. They generally work for far less pay as they develop their skills and work their way up the ladder toward the major leagues.  Many players have signing bonuses and other additional compensation that can run into the millions of dollars, although that is generally reserved for early-round draft picks.
    A major league team's director of player development determines where a given player will be placed in the farm system, in coordination with the coaches and managers who evaluate their talent. At the end of spring training, players both from the spring major camp and minor league winter camp are placed by the major league club on the roster of a minor league team. The director of player development and the general manager usually determine the initial assignments for new draftees, who typically begin playing professionally in June after they have been signed to contracts. The farm system is ever-changing, and the evaluation of players is a constantly ongoing process. The director of player development and his managers meet or teleconference regularly to discuss how players are performing at each level. Personal development, injuries, and high levels of achievement by players in the classes below all steer a player's movement up and down in the class system.
    Players will play for the team to which they are assigned for the duration of that season unless they are "called up" (promoted to a higher level), "sent down" (demoted to a lower-class team in the major league club's farm system), or released from the farm system entirely. A release from minor-league level used to spell the end of a minor league player's career. In more modern times, released players often sign with independent baseball clubs, which are scouted heavily by major league organizations. Many players get a second or third look from the major league scouts if they improve in the independent leagues.
    Minor league salaries vary based on class level and length of season; however, the majority of players make less than $10,000 per season.  Although not playing at the major league level, minor league players are professional athletes. Minor league players often colloquially refer to the major leagues as "The Show".
    Rehabilitation assignments
      C C Sabathia of the New York Yankees with the Trenton Thunder in July 2014 Rehabilitating with Minor League teams is a standard way for injured Major League players to get back into playing shape.
    Players on the injured list (IL) can be sent to the minor leagues to aid in rehabilitation following an injury, typically for one or two weeks. Players are often sent to minor league clubs based on geography and facilities, not necessarily by class for these reassignments.
    Rehabbing major leaguers continue to receive Major League pay and generally enjoy better amenities than their minor league teammates.
    Former Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer, who missed most of the first two months of the 2011 season due to a difficult recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery after the 2010 season, reported to Minnesota's Class A-Advanced Florida State League team, the Fort Myers Miracle, which is based in their spring training facility in Fort Myers. The Miracle manager at the time was Mauer's older brother Jake.
    Mike Trout's first rehab assignment of his career, in July 2017, was with the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino, California, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. This allowed Trout to stay closer to the Angels compared to the team's Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees.
    Umpires
    Umpires at the minor league level are overseen by Minor League Baseball Umpire Development (MiLBUD), which is responsible for the training, evaluation, and recommendation for promotion and retention or release of the umpires.
    The umpires are evaluated eight times a season by the staff of MiLBUD and receive a ranking at mid-season and the end of each year. Based on performance during the year, an umpire may advance in classification when a position opens in-season or during the off-season. MiLBUD holds an annual Rookie Evaluation Course every year in March to evaluate rookie umpires. Participants are normally the best students from the two professional umpire schools (one owned and operated by the same entity). The top students who pass the evaluation course are recommended for the first openings in lower-level leagues.
      Ryan Blakney (left) and Ben May umpiring in the Midwest League in 2008 Any student who wants to work as an umpire must attend a professional umpire training school. Minor League Baseball recognizes two schools for training prospective professional umpires, the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School and Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy, both located in Florida. The Umpire Training Academy is owned and operated by MiLBUD, while the Wendelstedt Umpire School is independently owned by MLB umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. The classes for each school are held for five weeks in January and February. The instructors at these schools are former or present major or minor league umpires. Simply attending one of these schools, however, does not guarantee that the candidate will be recommended to the evaluation course or for openings in lower-level leagues. Generally, less than 20% of students move on to the Rookie Evaluation Course.
    Before a development program was created, minor league presidents would recruit directly from umpire schools. Umpires were then "sold" from league to league by word of mouth through the various league presidents.  The umpire development program first started in 1964, when it was decided that a method of recruitment, training, and development for umpires of both major and minor leagues was needed. The program was founded at baseball's 1964 Winter Meetings in Houston, and it began operating the next year. The program aimed to recruit more athletic, energetic, and dedicated individuals who would also have high morals and integrity standards. In 1968, it was decided that the program needed its own umpire training course, which would be held annually. The first "Umpire Specialization Course" was held in St. Petersburg, Florida, the following year.
    Minor league umpires have been unionized since 1999, when they formed the Association of Minor League Umpires (AMLU), which has been a guild within the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) since 2010.  A strike action occurred at the start of the 2006 season, spurred by a disagreement over salaries and resulting in the use of replacement umpires until an agreement was reached after two months.
    Main article: 2006 Minor League Baseball umpire strike Presently, the candidates for a job in professional umpiring must meet several requirements in order to be considered. An applicant must have a high school diploma or a G.E.D., must be athletic, and also must have 20/20 vision, although they are permitted to wear glasses or contact lenses. They must also have good communication skills, good reflexes and coordination, and must have trained at one of the two professional umpire schools.
    Ownership
      The 2011 Omaha Storm Chasers, Pacific Coast League champions Teams in the affiliated minor leagues are generally independently owned and operated, and are directly affiliated with one major league team. Affiliations are governed by standardized agreements; historically known as a Player Development Contract (PDC), as of 2021 the term Player Development License Agreement (PDL) is used.   Some minor league teams are directly owned by their major league parent club, such as the Springfield Cardinals, owned by the St. Louis Cardinals, and all of the New York Mets' affiliates except the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
    With the reorganization of 2021, the standard length of an affiliation agreement is 10 years.  Previously, affiliations were for only two or four years, with affiliation changes being fairly frequent, though many relationships have been renewed and endure for extended time periods. For example, the Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly the Omaha Royals and Omaha Golden Spikes) have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals since the Royals joined the American League in 1969, but the Columbus Clippers, having been affiliated with the New York Yankees since 1979, changed affiliations to the Washington Nationals in 2007, and again changed to the Cleveland Indians two years later in 2009.
    Generally, the parent major league club pays the salaries and benefits of uniformed personnel (players and coaches) and provides bats and balls, while the minor league club pays for in-season travel and other operational expenses.
    The longest continuous affiliations are between the Philadelphia Phillies and their Double-A affiliate, the Reading Fightin Phils and between the Detroit Tigers and their Low-A affiliate, the Lakeland Flying Tigers, both of which date to 1965. Both Reading and Lakeland are now owned outright by their parent major league clubs.
    Presidents
    Minor League Baseball was governed through a centralized office until the restructuring of the minor leagues in 2021, with Major League Baseball itself now handling "all issues related to governance, scheduling, umpiring, license compliance, and other league administration functions." Minor league headquarters were located in St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1973 onward.  As of 2009, Minor League Baseball had 27 employees in St. Petersburg.  Before coming under the direct control of MLB, 11 people served as president of Minor League Baseball:
      Former headquarters of Minor League Baseball in St. Petersburg, Florida Patrick T. Powers, 1901–1909 Michael H. Sexton, 1910–1932 William G. Bramham, 1933–1946 George Trautman, 1947–1963 Phil Piton, 1964–1971 Hank Peters, 1972–1975 Bobby Bragan, 1976–1978 John H. Johnson, 1979–1988 Sal Artiaga, 1988–1991 Mike Moore, 1992–2007 Pat O'Conner, 2007–2020 Independent baseball
    Main article: Independent baseball league   Haymarket Park, home to the Lincoln Saltdogs, an independent baseball team in Lincoln, Nebraska Independent leagues are those professional leagues in the United States and Canada not under the purview of organized Minor League Baseball and the Commissioner of Baseball. Independent baseball existed in the early 20th century and has become prominent again since 1993.
    Leagues operated mostly autonomously before 1902, when the majority joined the NAPBL. From then until 1915, a total of eight new and existing leagues remained independent. Most joined the National Association after one season of independence. Notable exceptions were the California League, which was independent in 1902 and from 1907 to 1909; the United States Baseball League, which folded during its independent 1912 season; and the Colonial League, a National Association Member that went independent in 1915 and then folded.  Another independent league, the Federal League, played at a level considered major league from 1914 to 1915.
    Few independent leagues existed between 1915 and 1993. Major exceptions included the Carolina League and the Quebec-based Provincial League. The Carolina League, based in the North Carolina Piedmont region, gained a reputation as a notorious "outlaw league" during its existence from 1936 to 1938.  The Provincial League fielded six teams across Quebec and was independent from 1948 to 1949. Similarly to early 20th-century independent leagues, it joined the National Association in 1950, playing for six more years.
    Independent leagues saw new growth after 1992, after the new Professional Baseball Agreement in organized baseball instituted more stringent revenue and stadium requirements on members.  Over the next eight years, at least 16 independent leagues formed, of which six existed in 2002.  As of the 2021 season, there are eight active leagues, with four of them acting as MLB Partner Leagues.
    Current Leagues and Affiliations
    Minor leagues
    Triple-A
    Triple-A East Triple-A West Double-A Double-A Central Double-A Northeast Double-A South High-A High-A Central High-A East High-A West Low-A Low-A East Low-A Southeast Low-A West Rookie Arizona Complex League Florida Complex League Dominican Summer League Off-season leagues Arizona Fall League Partner leagues American Association Atlantic League Frontier League Pioneer League Major League affiliations



     
     
  16. Like
    MN_ExPat got a reaction from 4twinsJA for a blog entry, An Overview and Brief History of the Minor Leagues   
    After reading Rosterman's articles about where they are now players, I was inspired to create this article about the minors and some of it's history.  I think this stuff is pretty fascinating and at times I geek out about learning about it.  Would I have shamelessly "re-appropriated" much of this material from elsewhere if the league wasn't in a self-induced coma?  Possibly not, but either way I still love to share things I find out and learn about the greatest game on the face of the earth.
    So proceed on dear traveler and be forewarned, for here be dragons (ok that miiiight be a huge stretch but you can't blame a guy for warning you this might be a little dry for some folks )
    An Overview and Brief History of the Minor Leagues
    The earliest professional baseball league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players of 1871 to 1875, commonly referred to as the National Association, comprised all fully professional teams. This system proved unworkable, however, as there was no way to ensure competitive balance, and financially unsound clubs often failed in midseason. This problem was solved in 1876 with the formation of the National League (NL), with a limited membership which excluded less competitive and financially weaker teams. Professional clubs outside the NL responded by forming regional associations of their own. There was a series of ad hoc groupings, such as the New England Association of 1877 and the Eastern Championship Association of 1881. These were loose groups of independent clubs which agreed to play a series of games over the course of one season for a championship pennant.
      Patrick T. Powers, first president of the NAPBL   Jigger Statz played in over 2500 minor league games The first true minor league is traditionally considered to be the Northwestern League of 1883 to 1884.  Unlike the earlier minor associations, it was conceived as a permanent organization. It also, along with the NL and the American Association (AA), was a party to the National Agreement of 1883.  Included in this was the agreement to respect the reserve lists of clubs in each league.  Teams in the NL and the AA could only reserve players who had been paid at least $1,000. Northwest League teams could reserve players paid $750, implicitly establishing the division into major and minor leagues. Over the next two decades, more minor leagues signed various versions of the National Agreement. Eventually, the minor leagues joined to negotiate jointly.
    In the late 1890s, the Western League run by Ban Johnson decided to challenge the NL's position. In 1900, he changed the name of the league to the American League (AL) and vowed to make deals to sign contracts with players who were dissatisfied with the pay and terms of their deals with the NL. This led to a turf war that heated up in 1901 enough to concern Patrick T. Powers, president of the Eastern League, and many other minor league owners about the conflict potentially affecting their organizations. Representatives of the different minor leagues met at the Leland Hotel in Chicago on September 5, 1901.  In response to the NL–AL battle, they agreed to form the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL), sometimes shortened to National Association (NA),  which would later adopt the trade name "Minor League Baseball".  The purpose of the NAPBL at the time was to maintain the independence of the leagues involved. Several did not sign the agreement and continued to work independently. Powers was made the first president of the NAPBL, whose offices were established in Auburn, New York.
    In 1903, the conflict between the AL and NL ended in the National Agreement of 1903.  The NAPBL became involved in the later stages of the negotiations to develop rules for the acquisition of players from their leagues by the NL and the AL. The 1903 agreement ensured that teams would be compensated for the players that they had taken the time and effort to scout and develop, and no NA team was required to sell their players, although most did because the cash was an important source of revenue for most teams. The NA leagues were still fiercely independent, and the term minor was seldom used in reference to them, save by the major-market sportswriters. Sports news, like most news generally, often did not travel far in the days before radio and television, so, while the leagues often bristled at the major market writers' descriptions, they viewed themselves as independent sports businesses. Many baseball writers of that time regarded the greatest players of the minor leagues, such as Buzz Arlett, Jigger Statz, Ike Boone, Buddy Ryan, Earl Rapp and Frank Shellenback, as comparable to major league players. Leagues in the NA would not be truly called minor until Branch Rickey developed the first modern farm system in the 1930s. The Commissioner of Baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis fought Rickey's scheme, but, ultimately, the Great Depression drove teams to establish systems like Rickey's to ensure a steady supply of players, as many NA and independent teams could not afford to keep their doors open without the patronage of Major League Baseball. The leagues of the NA became subordinate to the major leagues, creating the first minor leagues in the current sense of the term. Other than the Pacific Coast League (PCL), which under its president Pants Rowland tried to become a third major league in the Western states, the other leagues maintained autonomy in name only, being totally economically dependent upon the AL and NL.
    In 1922, the United States Supreme Court decision Federal Baseball Club v. National League (259 U.S. 200), which grants baseball a special immunity from antitrust laws, had a major effect on the minor leagues. The special immunity meant that the AL and NL could dictate terms under which every independent league did business. By 1925, major league baseball established a flat-fee purchase amount of $5,000 for the contract of any player from an NA member league team. This power was leveled primarily at the Baltimore Orioles, then a Triple-A team that had dominated the minors with stars.
    Classification history
    19th century
    The earliest classifications used in the minor leagues began circa 1890, for teams that were party to the National Agreement of 1883.  The different levels represented different levels of protection for player contracts and reserve clauses:
    Class A: contracts and reserve lists protected Class B: contracts and reserve lists protected, but a major league team could draft a player for a set price Class ? contracts protected Class ? contracts protected, but any higher class could draft a player for a set price Class E/F: no protection 20th century
    After the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues was founded in 1901, classifications were redefined:
    Class Aggregate population of
    cities in the league Salary cap
    (per month)
    team / player Draft fee Protection fee Class A more than 1 million $1800 / $175 n/a $50 Class B 400,001 to 1 million $1000 / $125 $300 $30 Class C 200,001 to 400,000 $800 / $100 $200 $20 Class D up to 200,000 $700 / $75 $100 $10  Draft fee set an amount for a team in a higher class to select a player; n/a for Class A as it would be up to each team to negotiate with an interested major league club.
     Protection fee reserved a player to a team, even after a contract expired, preventing the player for seeking employment with any other team.
      Joe DiMaggio during his time playing in the Pacific Coast League, circa 1933–1936 All minor leagues were classified, and had the following assignments entering the 1902 season:
    Class A: Eastern League, Western League Class B: Connecticut State League, New England League, New York State League, Pacific Northwest League, Southern League, Three-I League Class ? no league until 1903 Class ? Cotton States League, Iowa–South Dakota League, Missouri Valley League, North Carolina League, Pennsylvania State League, Texas League Additional classifications added prior to World War II were:[11]: 15–16 
    Class AA ("Double-A"): added in 1912 as the new highest level.[15] Double-A remained the highest level through 1945. Class A1: added in 1936, between Class A and Class AA.[16] Two Class A circuits, the Texas League and the Southern Association, were upgraded to A1 to signify their continued status as one step below the highest classification, then Double-A, and a notch above their former Class A peers, the New York–Pennsylvania League and Western League.[16] Class A1 remained in use through 1945. Class E: added in 1937, as the new lowest level, for players with no professional experience in Class D or higher.[16] The only Class E league that existed was the four-team Twin Ports League, which operated for less than a full season in 1943.[16] Postwar changes
      Jackie Robinson with the Triple-A Montreal Royals in July 1946 In 1946, with the minor leagues poised for unprecedented growth, the higher-level classifications were changed. Class AAA ("Triple-A") was created and the three Double-A circuits (the Pacific Coast League, International League, and the American Association) were reclassified into Triple-A.  Class A1 (comprising the Texas League, which had last operated in 1942, and the Southern Association) became Class AA.   Class A remained the third-highest classification, with lower levels still ranked Class B through Class D in descending order, with Class D being the equivalent of later Rookie leagues. The impact of the Korean War in 1950 caused a player shortage in many cities below Class B.
    In 1952, the "Open" classification was created.[17] The Pacific Coast League (PCL), which had been rated Triple-A since 1946, was the only minor league to obtain this classification, which it held through 1957.  At this time, the major leagues only extended as far west as St. Louis, Missouri, and as far south as Washington, D.C. This classification severely restricted the rights of the major leagues to draft players out of the PCL, and at the time it seemed like the PCL would eventually become a third major league. The PCL would revert to Triple-A in 1958, due to increasing television coverage of major league games and in light of the Dodgers and Giants moving to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.
    Reorganization of 1963
    A significant reorganization of the minor leagues took place in 1963, caused by the contraction of clubs and leagues during the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1949, the peak of the postwar minor league baseball boom, 448 teams in 59 leagues were members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, with the number of teams falling to 324 in 1952, and 243 in 1955.  By the end of 1963, only 15 leagues above Rookie-level survived in the United States and Canada.
    After the 1962 season, the Triple-A American Association—which had lost key markets such as Milwaukee, Kansas City, Minneapolis–Saint Paul and Houston to the Major Leagues since 1953—disbanded. The surviving International and Pacific Coast leagues absorbed the four remaining American Association franchises. Meanwhile, at the Double-A level and below there were even more significant changes:
    The two existing Class A circuits—the Eastern League and South Atlantic League—were upgraded to Double-A, joining the Texas League and the unaffiliated Mexican League, then Double-A, as members of this classification. This move was caused by the disbanding of the Southern Association after 1961, leaving the six-team Texas League as the only US-based Double-A circuit in 1962. In addition, many Major League parent teams had frequently treated the pre-1963 Eastern League and South Atlantic League as de facto Double-A circuits, one step (rather than two) below Triple-A. The Class B Carolina League and Northwest League, the Class C California League, Pioneer League and Northern League, and the Class D Florida State League, Georgia–Florida League, Midwest League, New York–Penn League, and Western Carolinas League were all designated Class A leagues. The unaffiliated Class C Mexican Central League was also designated as Class A. The Class D Appalachian League, then the only "short-season" circuit, was given a new designation as a Rookie league. Designations below Class A disappeared because the lower levels could not sustain operation during a large downturn in the financial fortunes of minor league baseball, due to factors including the rise of television broadcasts of major league sports across broad regions of the country. As part of the 1963 reorganization, Major League clubs increased their commitments to affiliate with minor league teams through Player Development Contracts, outright ownerships, or shared affiliations and co-op arrangements.[22]
    Further changes after 1963
    The minor league system that evolved following the 1963 reorganization remained in place through 2020, categorizing leagues into one of six classes: Triple-A (AAA), Double-A (AA), Class A-Advanced (High A or A+), Class A (Low A), Class A Short Season, and Rookie. Furthermore, Rookie was further informally subdivided into Rookie Advanced, complex-based Rookie, and international summer baseball.
    Triple-A: The American Association was revived as a Triple-A league in 1969 and flourished with the minor league baseball boom of the 1980s and 1990s. However, all of its teams were again absorbed into the International and Pacific Coast leagues in 1998 as part of a sweeping reorganization of the minors' top classification. The American Association and the International League also played an interlocking schedule during the late 1980s as part of the Triple-A Alliance. The Mexican League was upgraded from Double-A to Triple-A in 1967. Double-A: In 1964, the South Atlantic League changed its name to Southern League. In 1971, because of continued contraction (and Major League expansion) that left each circuit with only seven teams, the Texas League and Southern League formed the 14-team Dixie Association. The arrangement lasted only for that season, and the records and history of the constituent leagues were kept distinct. In 1972, each league added an eighth team, rebalancing their schedules. The leagues subsequently returned to prosperity with the revival of minor league baseball that began in the 1980s. Class A: two additional classifications evolved from Class A. Under the rules governing the affiliated minor leagues, these became separate classifications, despite the similarity in name: Beginning in 1965, Class A Short Season leagues played approximately 75 to 80 games per season, starting in mid-June and ending in early September, designed to allow college players to complete their college seasons in the spring, be selected in the MLB draft in June, signed, and then immediately placed in a competitive league. The classification was eliminated prior to the 2021 season, with the New York–Penn League and Northwest League as the only active leagues at this level.
    Further information: Class A Short Season
    The Class A-Advanced classification, one rung below Double-A, was introduced in 1990 for the California League, Carolina League, and Florida State League, splitting the Class A level even further.  Entering the 2021 season, three new "High-A" leagues were introduced in replacement of prior leagues at this level. Rookie Advanced: The Appalachian League and Pioneer League were classified as Rookie Advanced leagues beginning in 1991.[24][25] The players in these leagues were thought to be further along in their development than players in the pure Rookie leagues, and hence games were more competitive. Teams in these leagues were allowed to sell concessions and charge admission. In practice, many major league teams would have either one affiliate at this level or one affiliate in Class A Short Season but not both, making them de facto equivalent. The Rookie Advanced classification was eliminated prior to the 2021 season. Rookie: In 1964, the Pioneer League stepped down from Class A to Rookie league status, and the first "complex-based" leagues, the Sarasota Rookie League and the Cocoa Rookie League, made their debuts. The Sarasota Rookie League underwent a name change to the Florida Rookie League in 1965 before becoming the Gulf Coast League the next season. The Cocoa Rookie League lasted only one season, and the Florida East Coast League of 1972, based in the same region of the state, also existed for only one year. In 1989, a counterpart to the Gulf Coast League, the Arizona League, made its debut and it continues to operate as a Rookie-level league for MLB teams with spring training facilities based in Arizona. There have also been some failed start-up leagues. During the 1970s, three official minor leagues (members of NAPBL) attempted unsuccessfully to revive unaffiliated baseball (teams not associated with specific MLB franchises) within the organized baseball structure. These were the Class A Gulf States League (1976) and Lone Star League (1977), and the Triple-A Inter–American League (1979). None lasted more than a full season.
    Reorganization of 2021
      Rob Manfred In October 2019, Baseball America reported that Major League Baseball had proposed dramatic changes to MiLB that would take effect after expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement, which governed the MLB–MiLB relationship, at the end of the 2020 season. This included the elimination of many minor league teams. 
    In mid-November 2019, more than 100 members of the United States Congress signed a letter sent to Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred opposing the proposal, noting that it "is not in the best interest of the overall game of baseball" and that it would "devastate our communities, their bond purchasers and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs."  A response from MLB highlighted that the proposal aims to improve player travel and working conditions.
    On November 21, 2019, Minor League Baseball released a statement, asserting that it is "unnecessary and unacceptable to wipe out one-quarter of minor league teams" and characterized the proposal as a way "to improve the profitability of MLB".  Manfred rebuked Minor League Baseball for releasing the negotiations to the public and threatened to cut ties with MiLB altogether.
    The following changes, which represent the first significant overhaul of minor league classifications since 1963, have since been implemented:
    The Major League Baseball draft was moved from mid-June to July to coincide with the MLB All-Star Game, and reduced from 40 rounds to 20. The Rookie-level Appalachian League was converted to a collegiate summer baseball league designed for rising freshmen and sophomores. The independent American Association, Atlantic League, and Frontier League and formerly Rookie-level Pioneer League became MLB Partner Leagues, with the ability for MLB clubs to acquire players from the Partner Leagues to assign to affiliated clubs. The MLB Draft League, a "showcase league" for college players expected to be selected in the annual MLB Draft, was formed, with each team in the league playing a 68-game summer season. Four teams from the New York–Penn League (Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes, West Virginia Black Bears, and Williamsport Crosscutters), one from the Eastern League (Trenton Thunder), and one from the Carolina League (Frederick Keys) comprised the initial league when it debuted in May 2021. Three independent league teams—the St. Paul Saints, the Sugar Land Skeeters, and the Somerset Patriots—were brought into MiLB. The Skeeters became the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, the Saints became the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and the Patriots became the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The number of MiLB teams, not counting teams in the complex-based Arizona Complex League and Florida Complex League, both of which are directly owned by MLB, was reduced from 160 to 120. Short-Season A and domestic non-complex based Rookie leagues were eliminated entirely. The New York–Penn League was shut down, leaving seven of its teams without an invitation to join another league. Affiliate invites for 2021
    When MLB teams announced their affiliates for the 2021 season on December 9, 2020, each of the 30 MLB teams had one affiliate at four levels—Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Low-A—for a total of 120 affiliated teams.  Approximately 40 teams lost their MLB affiliations; the Fresno Grizzlies were demoted from Triple-A to Low-A; and the majority of surviving clubs at High-A and Low-A swapped levels, with the former Florida State League and California League dropped down nearly as intact units, the Northwest League and Midwest League promoted with 75% of their teams, the majority of the Carolina League shifting to the South Atlantic League, and the old SAL being parceled out among three leagues.
    League realignment
    On February 12, 2021, Major League Baseball announced new league alignments for all 120 affiliated Minor League Baseball clubs effective as of the 2021 season.  Contrary to previously published reports indicating that realignment would retain the names of the existing minor leagues, Major League Baseball elected to abandon the names of existing minor leagues in favor of a new, class- and region-based naming system.
    Triple-A was divided into two leagues: Triple-A East, consisting of 20 teams aligned into three divisions (Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast); and Triple-A West, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West). Double-A was divided into three leagues: Double-A Central, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (North and South); Double-A Northeast, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (Northeast and Southeast); and Double-A South, consisting of eight teams aligned into two divisions (North and South). High-A (formerly Class A-Advanced) was divided into three leagues: High-A Central, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West); High-A East, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (North and South); and High-A West, consisting of six teams without divisional alignment. Low-A (formerly Class A) was divided into three leagues: Low-A East, consisting of 12 teams aligned into three divisions (Central, North, and South); Low-A Southeast, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West); and Low-A West, consisting of eight teams aligned into two divisions (North and South).
    The US-based Rookie-level leagues were renamed prior to starting play in late June; the former Gulf Coast League was renamed as the Florida Complex League and the former Arizona League was renamed as the Arizona Complex League.
    Classification hierarchy
    The following classifications, listed from highest to lowest, have existed since the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (the formal name of Minor League Baseball) was established prior to the 1902 season. Only seasons where a change was made to the hierarchy are listed; class introductions after 1902 appear in bold font, while class eliminations appear in italics. Not all defined classifications were used each season.
    1902 1912 1936 1937 1946 1952 1958 1963 1965 1990 1991 2021 A B C D AA A B C D AA A1 A B C D AA A1 A B C D E AAA AA A B C D Open AAA AA A B C D AAA AA A B C D AAA AA A Rk AAA AA A A (Short) Rk AAA AA A-Adv A A (Short) Rk AAA AA A-Adv A A (Short) Rk-Adv Rk AAA AA High-A Low-A Rk         A1 E   Open B C D       A (Short) Rk-Adv Notes:
    High-A was formerly Class A-Advanced (A-Adv) before 2021 Low-A was formerly Class A before 2021 A (Short) denotes Class A Short Season Rk-Adv denotes Rookie Advanced Rk denotes Rookie Players
    Major league clubs may only use players who are on the team's major league active roster in games; players on the active roster are selected from a 40-man major league reserve list (often called the 40-man roster). Effective with the 2020 Major League Baseball season, the active roster size for each team is 26 players for regular games and 27 players for scheduled doubleheaders, with the roster size expanding to 28 players from September 1 through the end of the regular season.  Prior to the 2020 season, the active roster size from the start of the regular season until September 1 was 25 players, with a 26th player allowed for a scheduled doubleheader.  From September 1 to the end of the regular season, teams were allowed to expand their active rosters up to 40 players, the size of the major league reserve list.
      Players of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in July 2017 Players on the 40-man reserve list who are not on the team's active roster are generally either on the injured list or playing at some level of the minor leagues (usually at the Triple-A or Double-A level). Players on the 40-man reserve list are eligible for membership in the Major League Baseball Players Association. These minor league players work at the lower end of major league pay scales and are covered by all rules and player agreements of the players association. Minor league players not on the 40-man reserve list are under contract to their respective parent Major League Baseball clubs but have no union. They generally work for far less pay as they develop their skills and work their way up the ladder toward the major leagues.  Many players have signing bonuses and other additional compensation that can run into the millions of dollars, although that is generally reserved for early-round draft picks.
    A major league team's director of player development determines where a given player will be placed in the farm system, in coordination with the coaches and managers who evaluate their talent. At the end of spring training, players both from the spring major camp and minor league winter camp are placed by the major league club on the roster of a minor league team. The director of player development and the general manager usually determine the initial assignments for new draftees, who typically begin playing professionally in June after they have been signed to contracts. The farm system is ever-changing, and the evaluation of players is a constantly ongoing process. The director of player development and his managers meet or teleconference regularly to discuss how players are performing at each level. Personal development, injuries, and high levels of achievement by players in the classes below all steer a player's movement up and down in the class system.
    Players will play for the team to which they are assigned for the duration of that season unless they are "called up" (promoted to a higher level), "sent down" (demoted to a lower-class team in the major league club's farm system), or released from the farm system entirely. A release from minor-league level used to spell the end of a minor league player's career. In more modern times, released players often sign with independent baseball clubs, which are scouted heavily by major league organizations. Many players get a second or third look from the major league scouts if they improve in the independent leagues.
    Minor league salaries vary based on class level and length of season; however, the majority of players make less than $10,000 per season.  Although not playing at the major league level, minor league players are professional athletes. Minor league players often colloquially refer to the major leagues as "The Show".
    Rehabilitation assignments
      C C Sabathia of the New York Yankees with the Trenton Thunder in July 2014 Rehabilitating with Minor League teams is a standard way for injured Major League players to get back into playing shape.
    Players on the injured list (IL) can be sent to the minor leagues to aid in rehabilitation following an injury, typically for one or two weeks. Players are often sent to minor league clubs based on geography and facilities, not necessarily by class for these reassignments.
    Rehabbing major leaguers continue to receive Major League pay and generally enjoy better amenities than their minor league teammates.
    Former Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer, who missed most of the first two months of the 2011 season due to a difficult recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery after the 2010 season, reported to Minnesota's Class A-Advanced Florida State League team, the Fort Myers Miracle, which is based in their spring training facility in Fort Myers. The Miracle manager at the time was Mauer's older brother Jake.
    Mike Trout's first rehab assignment of his career, in July 2017, was with the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino, California, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. This allowed Trout to stay closer to the Angels compared to the team's Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees.
    Umpires
    Umpires at the minor league level are overseen by Minor League Baseball Umpire Development (MiLBUD), which is responsible for the training, evaluation, and recommendation for promotion and retention or release of the umpires.
    The umpires are evaluated eight times a season by the staff of MiLBUD and receive a ranking at mid-season and the end of each year. Based on performance during the year, an umpire may advance in classification when a position opens in-season or during the off-season. MiLBUD holds an annual Rookie Evaluation Course every year in March to evaluate rookie umpires. Participants are normally the best students from the two professional umpire schools (one owned and operated by the same entity). The top students who pass the evaluation course are recommended for the first openings in lower-level leagues.
      Ryan Blakney (left) and Ben May umpiring in the Midwest League in 2008 Any student who wants to work as an umpire must attend a professional umpire training school. Minor League Baseball recognizes two schools for training prospective professional umpires, the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School and Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy, both located in Florida. The Umpire Training Academy is owned and operated by MiLBUD, while the Wendelstedt Umpire School is independently owned by MLB umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. The classes for each school are held for five weeks in January and February. The instructors at these schools are former or present major or minor league umpires. Simply attending one of these schools, however, does not guarantee that the candidate will be recommended to the evaluation course or for openings in lower-level leagues. Generally, less than 20% of students move on to the Rookie Evaluation Course.
    Before a development program was created, minor league presidents would recruit directly from umpire schools. Umpires were then "sold" from league to league by word of mouth through the various league presidents.  The umpire development program first started in 1964, when it was decided that a method of recruitment, training, and development for umpires of both major and minor leagues was needed. The program was founded at baseball's 1964 Winter Meetings in Houston, and it began operating the next year. The program aimed to recruit more athletic, energetic, and dedicated individuals who would also have high morals and integrity standards. In 1968, it was decided that the program needed its own umpire training course, which would be held annually. The first "Umpire Specialization Course" was held in St. Petersburg, Florida, the following year.
    Minor league umpires have been unionized since 1999, when they formed the Association of Minor League Umpires (AMLU), which has been a guild within the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) since 2010.  A strike action occurred at the start of the 2006 season, spurred by a disagreement over salaries and resulting in the use of replacement umpires until an agreement was reached after two months.
    Main article: 2006 Minor League Baseball umpire strike Presently, the candidates for a job in professional umpiring must meet several requirements in order to be considered. An applicant must have a high school diploma or a G.E.D., must be athletic, and also must have 20/20 vision, although they are permitted to wear glasses or contact lenses. They must also have good communication skills, good reflexes and coordination, and must have trained at one of the two professional umpire schools.
    Ownership
      The 2011 Omaha Storm Chasers, Pacific Coast League champions Teams in the affiliated minor leagues are generally independently owned and operated, and are directly affiliated with one major league team. Affiliations are governed by standardized agreements; historically known as a Player Development Contract (PDC), as of 2021 the term Player Development License Agreement (PDL) is used.   Some minor league teams are directly owned by their major league parent club, such as the Springfield Cardinals, owned by the St. Louis Cardinals, and all of the New York Mets' affiliates except the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
    With the reorganization of 2021, the standard length of an affiliation agreement is 10 years.  Previously, affiliations were for only two or four years, with affiliation changes being fairly frequent, though many relationships have been renewed and endure for extended time periods. For example, the Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly the Omaha Royals and Omaha Golden Spikes) have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals since the Royals joined the American League in 1969, but the Columbus Clippers, having been affiliated with the New York Yankees since 1979, changed affiliations to the Washington Nationals in 2007, and again changed to the Cleveland Indians two years later in 2009.
    Generally, the parent major league club pays the salaries and benefits of uniformed personnel (players and coaches) and provides bats and balls, while the minor league club pays for in-season travel and other operational expenses.
    The longest continuous affiliations are between the Philadelphia Phillies and their Double-A affiliate, the Reading Fightin Phils and between the Detroit Tigers and their Low-A affiliate, the Lakeland Flying Tigers, both of which date to 1965. Both Reading and Lakeland are now owned outright by their parent major league clubs.
    Presidents
    Minor League Baseball was governed through a centralized office until the restructuring of the minor leagues in 2021, with Major League Baseball itself now handling "all issues related to governance, scheduling, umpiring, license compliance, and other league administration functions." Minor league headquarters were located in St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1973 onward.  As of 2009, Minor League Baseball had 27 employees in St. Petersburg.  Before coming under the direct control of MLB, 11 people served as president of Minor League Baseball:
      Former headquarters of Minor League Baseball in St. Petersburg, Florida Patrick T. Powers, 1901–1909 Michael H. Sexton, 1910–1932 William G. Bramham, 1933–1946 George Trautman, 1947–1963 Phil Piton, 1964–1971 Hank Peters, 1972–1975 Bobby Bragan, 1976–1978 John H. Johnson, 1979–1988 Sal Artiaga, 1988–1991 Mike Moore, 1992–2007 Pat O'Conner, 2007–2020 Independent baseball
    Main article: Independent baseball league   Haymarket Park, home to the Lincoln Saltdogs, an independent baseball team in Lincoln, Nebraska Independent leagues are those professional leagues in the United States and Canada not under the purview of organized Minor League Baseball and the Commissioner of Baseball. Independent baseball existed in the early 20th century and has become prominent again since 1993.
    Leagues operated mostly autonomously before 1902, when the majority joined the NAPBL. From then until 1915, a total of eight new and existing leagues remained independent. Most joined the National Association after one season of independence. Notable exceptions were the California League, which was independent in 1902 and from 1907 to 1909; the United States Baseball League, which folded during its independent 1912 season; and the Colonial League, a National Association Member that went independent in 1915 and then folded.  Another independent league, the Federal League, played at a level considered major league from 1914 to 1915.
    Few independent leagues existed between 1915 and 1993. Major exceptions included the Carolina League and the Quebec-based Provincial League. The Carolina League, based in the North Carolina Piedmont region, gained a reputation as a notorious "outlaw league" during its existence from 1936 to 1938.  The Provincial League fielded six teams across Quebec and was independent from 1948 to 1949. Similarly to early 20th-century independent leagues, it joined the National Association in 1950, playing for six more years.
    Independent leagues saw new growth after 1992, after the new Professional Baseball Agreement in organized baseball instituted more stringent revenue and stadium requirements on members.  Over the next eight years, at least 16 independent leagues formed, of which six existed in 2002.  As of the 2021 season, there are eight active leagues, with four of them acting as MLB Partner Leagues.
    Current Leagues and Affiliations
    Minor leagues
    Triple-A
    Triple-A East Triple-A West Double-A Double-A Central Double-A Northeast Double-A South High-A High-A Central High-A East High-A West Low-A Low-A East Low-A Southeast Low-A West Rookie Arizona Complex League Florida Complex League Dominican Summer League Off-season leagues Arizona Fall League Partner leagues American Association Atlantic League Frontier League Pioneer League Major League affiliations



     
     
  17. Like
    MN_ExPat got a reaction from ashbury for a blog entry, An Overview and Brief History of the Minor Leagues   
    After reading Rosterman's articles about where they are now players, I was inspired to create this article about the minors and some of it's history.  I think this stuff is pretty fascinating and at times I geek out about learning about it.  Would I have shamelessly "re-appropriated" much of this material from elsewhere if the league wasn't in a self-induced coma?  Possibly not, but either way I still love to share things I find out and learn about the greatest game on the face of the earth.
    So proceed on dear traveler and be forewarned, for here be dragons (ok that miiiight be a huge stretch but you can't blame a guy for warning you this might be a little dry for some folks )
    An Overview and Brief History of the Minor Leagues
    The earliest professional baseball league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players of 1871 to 1875, commonly referred to as the National Association, comprised all fully professional teams. This system proved unworkable, however, as there was no way to ensure competitive balance, and financially unsound clubs often failed in midseason. This problem was solved in 1876 with the formation of the National League (NL), with a limited membership which excluded less competitive and financially weaker teams. Professional clubs outside the NL responded by forming regional associations of their own. There was a series of ad hoc groupings, such as the New England Association of 1877 and the Eastern Championship Association of 1881. These were loose groups of independent clubs which agreed to play a series of games over the course of one season for a championship pennant.
      Patrick T. Powers, first president of the NAPBL   Jigger Statz played in over 2500 minor league games The first true minor league is traditionally considered to be the Northwestern League of 1883 to 1884.  Unlike the earlier minor associations, it was conceived as a permanent organization. It also, along with the NL and the American Association (AA), was a party to the National Agreement of 1883.  Included in this was the agreement to respect the reserve lists of clubs in each league.  Teams in the NL and the AA could only reserve players who had been paid at least $1,000. Northwest League teams could reserve players paid $750, implicitly establishing the division into major and minor leagues. Over the next two decades, more minor leagues signed various versions of the National Agreement. Eventually, the minor leagues joined to negotiate jointly.
    In the late 1890s, the Western League run by Ban Johnson decided to challenge the NL's position. In 1900, he changed the name of the league to the American League (AL) and vowed to make deals to sign contracts with players who were dissatisfied with the pay and terms of their deals with the NL. This led to a turf war that heated up in 1901 enough to concern Patrick T. Powers, president of the Eastern League, and many other minor league owners about the conflict potentially affecting their organizations. Representatives of the different minor leagues met at the Leland Hotel in Chicago on September 5, 1901.  In response to the NL–AL battle, they agreed to form the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL), sometimes shortened to National Association (NA),  which would later adopt the trade name "Minor League Baseball".  The purpose of the NAPBL at the time was to maintain the independence of the leagues involved. Several did not sign the agreement and continued to work independently. Powers was made the first president of the NAPBL, whose offices were established in Auburn, New York.
    In 1903, the conflict between the AL and NL ended in the National Agreement of 1903.  The NAPBL became involved in the later stages of the negotiations to develop rules for the acquisition of players from their leagues by the NL and the AL. The 1903 agreement ensured that teams would be compensated for the players that they had taken the time and effort to scout and develop, and no NA team was required to sell their players, although most did because the cash was an important source of revenue for most teams. The NA leagues were still fiercely independent, and the term minor was seldom used in reference to them, save by the major-market sportswriters. Sports news, like most news generally, often did not travel far in the days before radio and television, so, while the leagues often bristled at the major market writers' descriptions, they viewed themselves as independent sports businesses. Many baseball writers of that time regarded the greatest players of the minor leagues, such as Buzz Arlett, Jigger Statz, Ike Boone, Buddy Ryan, Earl Rapp and Frank Shellenback, as comparable to major league players. Leagues in the NA would not be truly called minor until Branch Rickey developed the first modern farm system in the 1930s. The Commissioner of Baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis fought Rickey's scheme, but, ultimately, the Great Depression drove teams to establish systems like Rickey's to ensure a steady supply of players, as many NA and independent teams could not afford to keep their doors open without the patronage of Major League Baseball. The leagues of the NA became subordinate to the major leagues, creating the first minor leagues in the current sense of the term. Other than the Pacific Coast League (PCL), which under its president Pants Rowland tried to become a third major league in the Western states, the other leagues maintained autonomy in name only, being totally economically dependent upon the AL and NL.
    In 1922, the United States Supreme Court decision Federal Baseball Club v. National League (259 U.S. 200), which grants baseball a special immunity from antitrust laws, had a major effect on the minor leagues. The special immunity meant that the AL and NL could dictate terms under which every independent league did business. By 1925, major league baseball established a flat-fee purchase amount of $5,000 for the contract of any player from an NA member league team. This power was leveled primarily at the Baltimore Orioles, then a Triple-A team that had dominated the minors with stars.
    Classification history
    19th century
    The earliest classifications used in the minor leagues began circa 1890, for teams that were party to the National Agreement of 1883.  The different levels represented different levels of protection for player contracts and reserve clauses:
    Class A: contracts and reserve lists protected Class B: contracts and reserve lists protected, but a major league team could draft a player for a set price Class ? contracts protected Class ? contracts protected, but any higher class could draft a player for a set price Class E/F: no protection 20th century
    After the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues was founded in 1901, classifications were redefined:
    Class Aggregate population of
    cities in the league Salary cap
    (per month)
    team / player Draft fee Protection fee Class A more than 1 million $1800 / $175 n/a $50 Class B 400,001 to 1 million $1000 / $125 $300 $30 Class C 200,001 to 400,000 $800 / $100 $200 $20 Class D up to 200,000 $700 / $75 $100 $10  Draft fee set an amount for a team in a higher class to select a player; n/a for Class A as it would be up to each team to negotiate with an interested major league club.
     Protection fee reserved a player to a team, even after a contract expired, preventing the player for seeking employment with any other team.
      Joe DiMaggio during his time playing in the Pacific Coast League, circa 1933–1936 All minor leagues were classified, and had the following assignments entering the 1902 season:
    Class A: Eastern League, Western League Class B: Connecticut State League, New England League, New York State League, Pacific Northwest League, Southern League, Three-I League Class ? no league until 1903 Class ? Cotton States League, Iowa–South Dakota League, Missouri Valley League, North Carolina League, Pennsylvania State League, Texas League Additional classifications added prior to World War II were:[11]: 15–16 
    Class AA ("Double-A"): added in 1912 as the new highest level.[15] Double-A remained the highest level through 1945. Class A1: added in 1936, between Class A and Class AA.[16] Two Class A circuits, the Texas League and the Southern Association, were upgraded to A1 to signify their continued status as one step below the highest classification, then Double-A, and a notch above their former Class A peers, the New York–Pennsylvania League and Western League.[16] Class A1 remained in use through 1945. Class E: added in 1937, as the new lowest level, for players with no professional experience in Class D or higher.[16] The only Class E league that existed was the four-team Twin Ports League, which operated for less than a full season in 1943.[16] Postwar changes
      Jackie Robinson with the Triple-A Montreal Royals in July 1946 In 1946, with the minor leagues poised for unprecedented growth, the higher-level classifications were changed. Class AAA ("Triple-A") was created and the three Double-A circuits (the Pacific Coast League, International League, and the American Association) were reclassified into Triple-A.  Class A1 (comprising the Texas League, which had last operated in 1942, and the Southern Association) became Class AA.   Class A remained the third-highest classification, with lower levels still ranked Class B through Class D in descending order, with Class D being the equivalent of later Rookie leagues. The impact of the Korean War in 1950 caused a player shortage in many cities below Class B.
    In 1952, the "Open" classification was created.[17] The Pacific Coast League (PCL), which had been rated Triple-A since 1946, was the only minor league to obtain this classification, which it held through 1957.  At this time, the major leagues only extended as far west as St. Louis, Missouri, and as far south as Washington, D.C. This classification severely restricted the rights of the major leagues to draft players out of the PCL, and at the time it seemed like the PCL would eventually become a third major league. The PCL would revert to Triple-A in 1958, due to increasing television coverage of major league games and in light of the Dodgers and Giants moving to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively.
    Reorganization of 1963
    A significant reorganization of the minor leagues took place in 1963, caused by the contraction of clubs and leagues during the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1949, the peak of the postwar minor league baseball boom, 448 teams in 59 leagues were members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, with the number of teams falling to 324 in 1952, and 243 in 1955.  By the end of 1963, only 15 leagues above Rookie-level survived in the United States and Canada.
    After the 1962 season, the Triple-A American Association—which had lost key markets such as Milwaukee, Kansas City, Minneapolis–Saint Paul and Houston to the Major Leagues since 1953—disbanded. The surviving International and Pacific Coast leagues absorbed the four remaining American Association franchises. Meanwhile, at the Double-A level and below there were even more significant changes:
    The two existing Class A circuits—the Eastern League and South Atlantic League—were upgraded to Double-A, joining the Texas League and the unaffiliated Mexican League, then Double-A, as members of this classification. This move was caused by the disbanding of the Southern Association after 1961, leaving the six-team Texas League as the only US-based Double-A circuit in 1962. In addition, many Major League parent teams had frequently treated the pre-1963 Eastern League and South Atlantic League as de facto Double-A circuits, one step (rather than two) below Triple-A. The Class B Carolina League and Northwest League, the Class C California League, Pioneer League and Northern League, and the Class D Florida State League, Georgia–Florida League, Midwest League, New York–Penn League, and Western Carolinas League were all designated Class A leagues. The unaffiliated Class C Mexican Central League was also designated as Class A. The Class D Appalachian League, then the only "short-season" circuit, was given a new designation as a Rookie league. Designations below Class A disappeared because the lower levels could not sustain operation during a large downturn in the financial fortunes of minor league baseball, due to factors including the rise of television broadcasts of major league sports across broad regions of the country. As part of the 1963 reorganization, Major League clubs increased their commitments to affiliate with minor league teams through Player Development Contracts, outright ownerships, or shared affiliations and co-op arrangements.[22]
    Further changes after 1963
    The minor league system that evolved following the 1963 reorganization remained in place through 2020, categorizing leagues into one of six classes: Triple-A (AAA), Double-A (AA), Class A-Advanced (High A or A+), Class A (Low A), Class A Short Season, and Rookie. Furthermore, Rookie was further informally subdivided into Rookie Advanced, complex-based Rookie, and international summer baseball.
    Triple-A: The American Association was revived as a Triple-A league in 1969 and flourished with the minor league baseball boom of the 1980s and 1990s. However, all of its teams were again absorbed into the International and Pacific Coast leagues in 1998 as part of a sweeping reorganization of the minors' top classification. The American Association and the International League also played an interlocking schedule during the late 1980s as part of the Triple-A Alliance. The Mexican League was upgraded from Double-A to Triple-A in 1967. Double-A: In 1964, the South Atlantic League changed its name to Southern League. In 1971, because of continued contraction (and Major League expansion) that left each circuit with only seven teams, the Texas League and Southern League formed the 14-team Dixie Association. The arrangement lasted only for that season, and the records and history of the constituent leagues were kept distinct. In 1972, each league added an eighth team, rebalancing their schedules. The leagues subsequently returned to prosperity with the revival of minor league baseball that began in the 1980s. Class A: two additional classifications evolved from Class A. Under the rules governing the affiliated minor leagues, these became separate classifications, despite the similarity in name: Beginning in 1965, Class A Short Season leagues played approximately 75 to 80 games per season, starting in mid-June and ending in early September, designed to allow college players to complete their college seasons in the spring, be selected in the MLB draft in June, signed, and then immediately placed in a competitive league. The classification was eliminated prior to the 2021 season, with the New York–Penn League and Northwest League as the only active leagues at this level.
    Further information: Class A Short Season
    The Class A-Advanced classification, one rung below Double-A, was introduced in 1990 for the California League, Carolina League, and Florida State League, splitting the Class A level even further.  Entering the 2021 season, three new "High-A" leagues were introduced in replacement of prior leagues at this level. Rookie Advanced: The Appalachian League and Pioneer League were classified as Rookie Advanced leagues beginning in 1991.[24][25] The players in these leagues were thought to be further along in their development than players in the pure Rookie leagues, and hence games were more competitive. Teams in these leagues were allowed to sell concessions and charge admission. In practice, many major league teams would have either one affiliate at this level or one affiliate in Class A Short Season but not both, making them de facto equivalent. The Rookie Advanced classification was eliminated prior to the 2021 season. Rookie: In 1964, the Pioneer League stepped down from Class A to Rookie league status, and the first "complex-based" leagues, the Sarasota Rookie League and the Cocoa Rookie League, made their debuts. The Sarasota Rookie League underwent a name change to the Florida Rookie League in 1965 before becoming the Gulf Coast League the next season. The Cocoa Rookie League lasted only one season, and the Florida East Coast League of 1972, based in the same region of the state, also existed for only one year. In 1989, a counterpart to the Gulf Coast League, the Arizona League, made its debut and it continues to operate as a Rookie-level league for MLB teams with spring training facilities based in Arizona. There have also been some failed start-up leagues. During the 1970s, three official minor leagues (members of NAPBL) attempted unsuccessfully to revive unaffiliated baseball (teams not associated with specific MLB franchises) within the organized baseball structure. These were the Class A Gulf States League (1976) and Lone Star League (1977), and the Triple-A Inter–American League (1979). None lasted more than a full season.
    Reorganization of 2021
      Rob Manfred In October 2019, Baseball America reported that Major League Baseball had proposed dramatic changes to MiLB that would take effect after expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement, which governed the MLB–MiLB relationship, at the end of the 2020 season. This included the elimination of many minor league teams. 
    In mid-November 2019, more than 100 members of the United States Congress signed a letter sent to Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred opposing the proposal, noting that it "is not in the best interest of the overall game of baseball" and that it would "devastate our communities, their bond purchasers and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs."  A response from MLB highlighted that the proposal aims to improve player travel and working conditions.
    On November 21, 2019, Minor League Baseball released a statement, asserting that it is "unnecessary and unacceptable to wipe out one-quarter of minor league teams" and characterized the proposal as a way "to improve the profitability of MLB".  Manfred rebuked Minor League Baseball for releasing the negotiations to the public and threatened to cut ties with MiLB altogether.
    The following changes, which represent the first significant overhaul of minor league classifications since 1963, have since been implemented:
    The Major League Baseball draft was moved from mid-June to July to coincide with the MLB All-Star Game, and reduced from 40 rounds to 20. The Rookie-level Appalachian League was converted to a collegiate summer baseball league designed for rising freshmen and sophomores. The independent American Association, Atlantic League, and Frontier League and formerly Rookie-level Pioneer League became MLB Partner Leagues, with the ability for MLB clubs to acquire players from the Partner Leagues to assign to affiliated clubs. The MLB Draft League, a "showcase league" for college players expected to be selected in the annual MLB Draft, was formed, with each team in the league playing a 68-game summer season. Four teams from the New York–Penn League (Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes, West Virginia Black Bears, and Williamsport Crosscutters), one from the Eastern League (Trenton Thunder), and one from the Carolina League (Frederick Keys) comprised the initial league when it debuted in May 2021. Three independent league teams—the St. Paul Saints, the Sugar Land Skeeters, and the Somerset Patriots—were brought into MiLB. The Skeeters became the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, the Saints became the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and the Patriots became the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The number of MiLB teams, not counting teams in the complex-based Arizona Complex League and Florida Complex League, both of which are directly owned by MLB, was reduced from 160 to 120. Short-Season A and domestic non-complex based Rookie leagues were eliminated entirely. The New York–Penn League was shut down, leaving seven of its teams without an invitation to join another league. Affiliate invites for 2021
    When MLB teams announced their affiliates for the 2021 season on December 9, 2020, each of the 30 MLB teams had one affiliate at four levels—Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Low-A—for a total of 120 affiliated teams.  Approximately 40 teams lost their MLB affiliations; the Fresno Grizzlies were demoted from Triple-A to Low-A; and the majority of surviving clubs at High-A and Low-A swapped levels, with the former Florida State League and California League dropped down nearly as intact units, the Northwest League and Midwest League promoted with 75% of their teams, the majority of the Carolina League shifting to the South Atlantic League, and the old SAL being parceled out among three leagues.
    League realignment
    On February 12, 2021, Major League Baseball announced new league alignments for all 120 affiliated Minor League Baseball clubs effective as of the 2021 season.  Contrary to previously published reports indicating that realignment would retain the names of the existing minor leagues, Major League Baseball elected to abandon the names of existing minor leagues in favor of a new, class- and region-based naming system.
    Triple-A was divided into two leagues: Triple-A East, consisting of 20 teams aligned into three divisions (Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast); and Triple-A West, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West). Double-A was divided into three leagues: Double-A Central, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (North and South); Double-A Northeast, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (Northeast and Southeast); and Double-A South, consisting of eight teams aligned into two divisions (North and South). High-A (formerly Class A-Advanced) was divided into three leagues: High-A Central, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West); High-A East, consisting of 12 teams aligned into two divisions (North and South); and High-A West, consisting of six teams without divisional alignment. Low-A (formerly Class A) was divided into three leagues: Low-A East, consisting of 12 teams aligned into three divisions (Central, North, and South); Low-A Southeast, consisting of 10 teams aligned into two divisions (East and West); and Low-A West, consisting of eight teams aligned into two divisions (North and South).
    The US-based Rookie-level leagues were renamed prior to starting play in late June; the former Gulf Coast League was renamed as the Florida Complex League and the former Arizona League was renamed as the Arizona Complex League.
    Classification hierarchy
    The following classifications, listed from highest to lowest, have existed since the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (the formal name of Minor League Baseball) was established prior to the 1902 season. Only seasons where a change was made to the hierarchy are listed; class introductions after 1902 appear in bold font, while class eliminations appear in italics. Not all defined classifications were used each season.
    1902 1912 1936 1937 1946 1952 1958 1963 1965 1990 1991 2021 A B C D AA A B C D AA A1 A B C D AA A1 A B C D E AAA AA A B C D Open AAA AA A B C D AAA AA A B C D AAA AA A Rk AAA AA A A (Short) Rk AAA AA A-Adv A A (Short) Rk AAA AA A-Adv A A (Short) Rk-Adv Rk AAA AA High-A Low-A Rk         A1 E   Open B C D       A (Short) Rk-Adv Notes:
    High-A was formerly Class A-Advanced (A-Adv) before 2021 Low-A was formerly Class A before 2021 A (Short) denotes Class A Short Season Rk-Adv denotes Rookie Advanced Rk denotes Rookie Players
    Major league clubs may only use players who are on the team's major league active roster in games; players on the active roster are selected from a 40-man major league reserve list (often called the 40-man roster). Effective with the 2020 Major League Baseball season, the active roster size for each team is 26 players for regular games and 27 players for scheduled doubleheaders, with the roster size expanding to 28 players from September 1 through the end of the regular season.  Prior to the 2020 season, the active roster size from the start of the regular season until September 1 was 25 players, with a 26th player allowed for a scheduled doubleheader.  From September 1 to the end of the regular season, teams were allowed to expand their active rosters up to 40 players, the size of the major league reserve list.
      Players of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in July 2017 Players on the 40-man reserve list who are not on the team's active roster are generally either on the injured list or playing at some level of the minor leagues (usually at the Triple-A or Double-A level). Players on the 40-man reserve list are eligible for membership in the Major League Baseball Players Association. These minor league players work at the lower end of major league pay scales and are covered by all rules and player agreements of the players association. Minor league players not on the 40-man reserve list are under contract to their respective parent Major League Baseball clubs but have no union. They generally work for far less pay as they develop their skills and work their way up the ladder toward the major leagues.  Many players have signing bonuses and other additional compensation that can run into the millions of dollars, although that is generally reserved for early-round draft picks.
    A major league team's director of player development determines where a given player will be placed in the farm system, in coordination with the coaches and managers who evaluate their talent. At the end of spring training, players both from the spring major camp and minor league winter camp are placed by the major league club on the roster of a minor league team. The director of player development and the general manager usually determine the initial assignments for new draftees, who typically begin playing professionally in June after they have been signed to contracts. The farm system is ever-changing, and the evaluation of players is a constantly ongoing process. The director of player development and his managers meet or teleconference regularly to discuss how players are performing at each level. Personal development, injuries, and high levels of achievement by players in the classes below all steer a player's movement up and down in the class system.
    Players will play for the team to which they are assigned for the duration of that season unless they are "called up" (promoted to a higher level), "sent down" (demoted to a lower-class team in the major league club's farm system), or released from the farm system entirely. A release from minor-league level used to spell the end of a minor league player's career. In more modern times, released players often sign with independent baseball clubs, which are scouted heavily by major league organizations. Many players get a second or third look from the major league scouts if they improve in the independent leagues.
    Minor league salaries vary based on class level and length of season; however, the majority of players make less than $10,000 per season.  Although not playing at the major league level, minor league players are professional athletes. Minor league players often colloquially refer to the major leagues as "The Show".
    Rehabilitation assignments
      C C Sabathia of the New York Yankees with the Trenton Thunder in July 2014 Rehabilitating with Minor League teams is a standard way for injured Major League players to get back into playing shape.
    Players on the injured list (IL) can be sent to the minor leagues to aid in rehabilitation following an injury, typically for one or two weeks. Players are often sent to minor league clubs based on geography and facilities, not necessarily by class for these reassignments.
    Rehabbing major leaguers continue to receive Major League pay and generally enjoy better amenities than their minor league teammates.
    Former Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer, who missed most of the first two months of the 2011 season due to a difficult recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery after the 2010 season, reported to Minnesota's Class A-Advanced Florida State League team, the Fort Myers Miracle, which is based in their spring training facility in Fort Myers. The Miracle manager at the time was Mauer's older brother Jake.
    Mike Trout's first rehab assignment of his career, in July 2017, was with the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino, California, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. This allowed Trout to stay closer to the Angels compared to the team's Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees.
    Umpires
    Umpires at the minor league level are overseen by Minor League Baseball Umpire Development (MiLBUD), which is responsible for the training, evaluation, and recommendation for promotion and retention or release of the umpires.
    The umpires are evaluated eight times a season by the staff of MiLBUD and receive a ranking at mid-season and the end of each year. Based on performance during the year, an umpire may advance in classification when a position opens in-season or during the off-season. MiLBUD holds an annual Rookie Evaluation Course every year in March to evaluate rookie umpires. Participants are normally the best students from the two professional umpire schools (one owned and operated by the same entity). The top students who pass the evaluation course are recommended for the first openings in lower-level leagues.
      Ryan Blakney (left) and Ben May umpiring in the Midwest League in 2008 Any student who wants to work as an umpire must attend a professional umpire training school. Minor League Baseball recognizes two schools for training prospective professional umpires, the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School and Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy, both located in Florida. The Umpire Training Academy is owned and operated by MiLBUD, while the Wendelstedt Umpire School is independently owned by MLB umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. The classes for each school are held for five weeks in January and February. The instructors at these schools are former or present major or minor league umpires. Simply attending one of these schools, however, does not guarantee that the candidate will be recommended to the evaluation course or for openings in lower-level leagues. Generally, less than 20% of students move on to the Rookie Evaluation Course.
    Before a development program was created, minor league presidents would recruit directly from umpire schools. Umpires were then "sold" from league to league by word of mouth through the various league presidents.  The umpire development program first started in 1964, when it was decided that a method of recruitment, training, and development for umpires of both major and minor leagues was needed. The program was founded at baseball's 1964 Winter Meetings in Houston, and it began operating the next year. The program aimed to recruit more athletic, energetic, and dedicated individuals who would also have high morals and integrity standards. In 1968, it was decided that the program needed its own umpire training course, which would be held annually. The first "Umpire Specialization Course" was held in St. Petersburg, Florida, the following year.
    Minor league umpires have been unionized since 1999, when they formed the Association of Minor League Umpires (AMLU), which has been a guild within the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) since 2010.  A strike action occurred at the start of the 2006 season, spurred by a disagreement over salaries and resulting in the use of replacement umpires until an agreement was reached after two months.
    Main article: 2006 Minor League Baseball umpire strike Presently, the candidates for a job in professional umpiring must meet several requirements in order to be considered. An applicant must have a high school diploma or a G.E.D., must be athletic, and also must have 20/20 vision, although they are permitted to wear glasses or contact lenses. They must also have good communication skills, good reflexes and coordination, and must have trained at one of the two professional umpire schools.
    Ownership
      The 2011 Omaha Storm Chasers, Pacific Coast League champions Teams in the affiliated minor leagues are generally independently owned and operated, and are directly affiliated with one major league team. Affiliations are governed by standardized agreements; historically known as a Player Development Contract (PDC), as of 2021 the term Player Development License Agreement (PDL) is used.   Some minor league teams are directly owned by their major league parent club, such as the Springfield Cardinals, owned by the St. Louis Cardinals, and all of the New York Mets' affiliates except the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
    With the reorganization of 2021, the standard length of an affiliation agreement is 10 years.  Previously, affiliations were for only two or four years, with affiliation changes being fairly frequent, though many relationships have been renewed and endure for extended time periods. For example, the Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly the Omaha Royals and Omaha Golden Spikes) have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals since the Royals joined the American League in 1969, but the Columbus Clippers, having been affiliated with the New York Yankees since 1979, changed affiliations to the Washington Nationals in 2007, and again changed to the Cleveland Indians two years later in 2009.
    Generally, the parent major league club pays the salaries and benefits of uniformed personnel (players and coaches) and provides bats and balls, while the minor league club pays for in-season travel and other operational expenses.
    The longest continuous affiliations are between the Philadelphia Phillies and their Double-A affiliate, the Reading Fightin Phils and between the Detroit Tigers and their Low-A affiliate, the Lakeland Flying Tigers, both of which date to 1965. Both Reading and Lakeland are now owned outright by their parent major league clubs.
    Presidents
    Minor League Baseball was governed through a centralized office until the restructuring of the minor leagues in 2021, with Major League Baseball itself now handling "all issues related to governance, scheduling, umpiring, license compliance, and other league administration functions." Minor league headquarters were located in St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1973 onward.  As of 2009, Minor League Baseball had 27 employees in St. Petersburg.  Before coming under the direct control of MLB, 11 people served as president of Minor League Baseball:
      Former headquarters of Minor League Baseball in St. Petersburg, Florida Patrick T. Powers, 1901–1909 Michael H. Sexton, 1910–1932 William G. Bramham, 1933–1946 George Trautman, 1947–1963 Phil Piton, 1964–1971 Hank Peters, 1972–1975 Bobby Bragan, 1976–1978 John H. Johnson, 1979–1988 Sal Artiaga, 1988–1991 Mike Moore, 1992–2007 Pat O'Conner, 2007–2020 Independent baseball
    Main article: Independent baseball league   Haymarket Park, home to the Lincoln Saltdogs, an independent baseball team in Lincoln, Nebraska Independent leagues are those professional leagues in the United States and Canada not under the purview of organized Minor League Baseball and the Commissioner of Baseball. Independent baseball existed in the early 20th century and has become prominent again since 1993.
    Leagues operated mostly autonomously before 1902, when the majority joined the NAPBL. From then until 1915, a total of eight new and existing leagues remained independent. Most joined the National Association after one season of independence. Notable exceptions were the California League, which was independent in 1902 and from 1907 to 1909; the United States Baseball League, which folded during its independent 1912 season; and the Colonial League, a National Association Member that went independent in 1915 and then folded.  Another independent league, the Federal League, played at a level considered major league from 1914 to 1915.
    Few independent leagues existed between 1915 and 1993. Major exceptions included the Carolina League and the Quebec-based Provincial League. The Carolina League, based in the North Carolina Piedmont region, gained a reputation as a notorious "outlaw league" during its existence from 1936 to 1938.  The Provincial League fielded six teams across Quebec and was independent from 1948 to 1949. Similarly to early 20th-century independent leagues, it joined the National Association in 1950, playing for six more years.
    Independent leagues saw new growth after 1992, after the new Professional Baseball Agreement in organized baseball instituted more stringent revenue and stadium requirements on members.  Over the next eight years, at least 16 independent leagues formed, of which six existed in 2002.  As of the 2021 season, there are eight active leagues, with four of them acting as MLB Partner Leagues.
    Current Leagues and Affiliations
    Minor leagues
    Triple-A
    Triple-A East Triple-A West Double-A Double-A Central Double-A Northeast Double-A South High-A High-A Central High-A East High-A West Low-A Low-A East Low-A Southeast Low-A West Rookie Arizona Complex League Florida Complex League Dominican Summer League Off-season leagues Arizona Fall League Partner leagues American Association Atlantic League Frontier League Pioneer League Major League affiliations



     
     
  18. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Bundy Signing Isn’t from the Same Old Twins   
    Right before the final bell on the Major League Baseball offseason rang before Rob Manfred locked out the players, Minnesota got a deal done. The Twins signed former first round pick Dylan Bundy to a one-year deal worth $4 million. No, it’s not cut from the “same ole’ Twins” cloth.
    Take a quick glance at Bundy’s 2021 numbers and it looks like a scrap heap pickup. He had an ERA north of 6.00 and a FIP that suggests he was equally as bad. The strikeouts dipped, the walks rose, and he gave up two homers for every nine innings he pitched. That’s not good. Now, take another look.
    In the truncated 2020 season Bundy finished 9th in the American League Cy Young voting. He posted a 3.29 ERA and an even better 2.95 FIP. His 9.9 strikeout rate was a career high, and his 2.3 BB/9 was a career low. At 27 years old he posted the best season of his career. Now, where does the truth lie?
    Probably somewhere in the middle. Prior to 2020, Bundy owned a 4.69 ERA while striking out just shy of one batter per inning. He gives up a decent number of dingers but has largely put the injuries that plagued him as a prospect behind him. That is, until this season. Bundy threw just 90.2 IP for the Angels in 2021 and was one of the many pitchers that saw dips in spin rate following the sticky substance ban.
    So, what do we make of all this?
    Firstly, regarding the sticky substances, it’s hard to draw too many conclusions. Players were forced to adapt on the fly with no warning. This is on top of having a ball that was already being manipulated by the league itself. With more runway this offseason to work through things, we could expect to see a greater ability of adaptation. The hope would be consistency from the implement centered in the game, and we’ll have a greater opportunity for a base level of results.
    Secondly, regarding the injury issues, it’s fair to wonder what the impact of a shortened 2020 and competitive changes in 2021 had on his body. Baseball players are characters of habit and routine, throwing that off can have substantial ripple effects and I believe we saw that to a larger extent on the minor league side this season.
    But why isn’t Bundy just another cheap pickup you ask?
    Look at the upside here. Last season the Twins gave $8 million to a 38-year-old J.A. Happ who was very likely on the tail end of his career. He’d posted sub 4.00 ERA’s but had very little upside and plenty of room to go bottoms up. They gave $2 million to Matt Shoemaker who had been solid when healthy, but rarely was able to stay on the field. Again, that’s a decent amount of chance to count on in the rotation for Opening Day.
    With Bundy, he has both youth and ceiling on his side while not coming close to breaking the bank. Of course this signing on its own is not worthy of praise should the Twins do nothing else, but if they execute on acquiring two more arms above this ability level, it’s a threesome they can rely on. Last season the starting staff needed top three arms or better. Instead the front office acquired two guys to mop up innings as fourth and fifth placeholders.
    Should the Twins fail to execute in allocating the funds they could’ve dispersed to Jose Berrios as a rotation centerpiece, then they need to be held accountable for it. Right now though, Bundy represents a solid floor for what can be hoped to be the start of something more (once the lockout ceases, of course).
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  19. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Names and players - yes I am bored   
    I just went through the roster of everyone who ever played for the Senators/Twins franchise. Only with Coronavirus would I do that. Well it was kind of fun and I put together a 26 man roster of the best names - from my perspective. These were last names only and it was hard to ignore the nicknames. Vic Power led off at first for the Twins since Power is our calling card and Early Wynn (perfect names) is our starting pitcher. Some are a little more obscure - actually I never heard of many of them. But here it is. Have at it - add and subtract as you like.
     
    1B Vic Power
    2B Jimmy Bloodworth
    3B Rocky Bridges
    SS Sam Crane
    C Earl Battey
    OF Steve Braun
    OF Eric Bullock
    OF Goose Goslin
    P Early Wynn
    P Red Bird
    P Boof Bonser
    P John Butcher
    P Matt Capps
    P Jim Constable
    P Skipper Friday
    P Eric Hacker
    P Jim Hoey
    P Jim Kaat
    P Joe Klink
    P Spencer Pumpelly
     
    Bench
    B Brian Dinkelman – 2B
    B Jake Early – C
    B Butch Huskey – OF
    B Clyde Kluttz – C
    B Elmer Klumpp – C
    B Bob Unglaub - U
     
    I also played with individual letters. This meant letters with a lot of names like "S". The weakness in this is apparent right away - the players were not Senator/Twins for their entire career so their numbers are inflated. For my exercise it is as if they were potentially on our teams their entire career and if they were this is how they stacked up.
    1B George Sisler HOF 56.4
    2b Germany Schaefer 8.9
    3b Miquel Sano 7.8
    Ss Roy Smalley 27.9
    C Terry Steinbach 28
    Of Tris Speaker HOF 134.2
    Of Al Simmons HOF 68
    Of Roy Sievers 25.5
    P Jack Sandford 18.6
    P Johann Santana 51.7
    P Ervin Santana 26.6
    P Bill Singer 18.7
    p Lee Stange 9.2
    464.5 total WAR
     
    The R team does not have a total WAR because you will see that the list does not have enough potential to be beat the S team.
     
    1B Rich Rollins
    2b Luis Rivas
    3b Rich Reese
    Ss Pete Runnels
    C Phil Roof
    Of Ben Revere
    Of Sam Rice HOF
    Of Eddie Rosario
    P Brad Radtke
    P Pedro Ramos
    P Jeff Reardon
    P Kenny Rogers
    p Dutch Reuther
     
    The P team had 302.9 WAR but lacked the total star power.
    1B Vic Power 15.3
    2b Trevor Plouffe 7.2
    3b Mike Pagliarulo 10.6
    Ss Roger Peckinpaugh 44.9
    C A J Pierzynski 23.8
    Of Wally Post 18.2
    Of Kirby Puckett 51.1
    Of Albie Pearson 13.1
    P Jim Perry 41.6
    P Camilo Pascual 40.9
    P Carl Pavano 16.4
    P Mike Pineda 10.9
    p Glen Perkins 8.9
    302.9
     
    The M's make a big push with 378.8 WAR
    1B Justin Morneau 27
    2b Buddy Myer 47.8
    3b David McKay 0.1
    Ss Pat Meares 4.8
    C Joe Mauer 55.3
    Of Paul Molitor HOF 75.7
    Of Heinie Manush HOF 47.2
    Of Shane Mack 21.6
    P Firpo Marberry 30.3
    P Tippy Martinez 8.6
    P Joe Mays 9.4
    P Eric Milton 16.5
    p Jack Morris HOF 43.5
    378.8
     
    1B Ron Coomer 1.4
    2b Rod Carew HOF 81.3
    3b John Castino 15.2
    Ss Joe Cronin 64.1
    C Juan Castro -5.4
    Of Ben Chapman 41.9
    Of Marty Cordova 7.7
    Of Michael Cuddyer 17.8
    P Steve Carlton HOF 90.2
    P Stan Coveleski HOF 61.4
    P Dean Chance 29.9
    P Al Cicotte 0.3
    p Bartolo Colon 45.8
    451.6 comes in second thanks to the HOF players
     
     
    Those were the letters I chose. K has Killebrew and Kaat, but not enough supporting cast. B has a lot of players but only Blyleven is HOF. D has only Ed Delehanty. W does not have as many players, but Walter Johnson has 164 WAR by himself.
     
    I cannot continue - my boredom has been replaced by being tired.
  20. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to DannySD for a blog entry, Blueprint: Add Bauer, Gregorius, Betances   
    2020 Offseason Plan
     
    My basic theories/assumptions:
    A. Be realistic. If your plan assumes Cole, Strasburg, Ryu, Rendon, Chapman, or Bumgarner will sign here, I think you are doing this exercise wrong.
    B. Teams are likely to hang onto those solid #2/3 starters (Syndergaard, Minor, Ray, etc) in the offseason unless you overpay or they are trying to dump salary.
    C. Keep our young hitting core intact.
    D. Our top prospects are not quite ready.
    E. Supplement existing team with the best starter, reliever, and position player we can realistically get.
    F. Trade for an ace and a really good reliever at the deadline, unless 2020 is not our year or Berrios takes a big leap.
    G. The FO is willing to spend up to $160 Million in salary to field a really nice team
     
    NEW FACES:
    1. trade for Trevor Bauer (something like Balazovic + Javier + Rijo/Vallimont)
    - I see Bauer as the best gettable starter.
    - his trade value is hurt by a bunch of factors but it's hard to say by how much. this could obviously backfire.
    * backup plan: trade Rijo for Arrieta + salary relief
    2. sign Didi Gregorius (1 year, $18 + player option)
    - he'll have a strange market, and he'll want to be in the middle of a good lineup to build value so the Twins are a perfect fit for him. 2-3 years works also with Marwin gone after 2020, but I don't think he wants that.
    - I'm assuming the Yankees are saving money and won't offer a QO
    3. sign Dellin Betances (2 years/$22 + team option/buyout)
    - I'm OK with the slight overpay, hard to say how much he'll get coming off a bunch of injuries.
     
    COMING BACK:
    1. pick up Nelson Cruz' option ($12)
    - duh, done
    2. re-sign Sergio Romo (2 years, $8)
    - solid vet back there
    3. re-sign Michael Pineda (2 years/$30 + team option)
    - mike was our best pitcher the second half of 2019
    4. re-sign Jake Odorizzi (3 years/$51)
    - this will end up being a slight waste of money but needs to happen anyway
    5. re-sign Kyle Gibson (1 year/$8 + team option)
    - 3.62 ERA in 2018/career 4.29 FIP/nasty illness in 2019. why does everybody want to dump the Twins lifer? I think he will be a well-above-average #4/5 starter and a dominant reliever in the postseason.
    6. Sign/extend Mitch Garver. (5 years/$50)
    - yes I know he is about to turn 29
     
    POSITION SWITCHES:
    move Sano to 1B
    move Polanco to 3B
     
    OPENING DAY PAYROLL is around $158 million, I guessed on the arb numbers.
     
    LINEUP:
    1. RF Kepler ($7)
    2. 3B Polanco ($4)
    3. DH Cruz ($12)
    4. 1B Sano ($6)
    5. SS Gregorius ($18)
    6. LF Rosario ($7)
    7. C Garver ($2)
    8. CF Buxton ($3)
    9. 2B Arraez ($0.5)
    Gonzalez ($9)
    Astudillo ($0.5)
    Wade ($0.5)
    Adrianza ($3)
    Lineup recap: replace Cron in the lineup with Gregorius, while improving the defense a bit and making Astudillo just a catcher.
     
    STARTERS:
    Bauer ($16.5)
    Odorizzi ($17)
    Berrios ($6)
    Pineda ($15 adjusted to $12)
    Gibson ($8)
     
    BULLPEN:
    Rogers ($5)
    Betances ($11)
    Romo ($4)
    Duffey ($1.5)
    Graterol ($0.5)
    May ($3)
    Littell ($0.5)
    Smeltzer ($0.5)
     
    POSTSEASON STAFF (projected):
    1. Ace via midseason trade
    2. Bauer
    3. Pineda
    4. Odorizzi
    Berrios (until he gets past late-season faltering, he's in the pen in the postseason)
    Betances
    Reliever via midseason trade
    Rogers
    Duffey
    Gibson
    Romo
    Graterol
     
    THE DUMPED:
    1. decline CJ Cron
    - too much meh
    4. decline Sam Dyson
    - and send the Giants a nice gift basket full of sharp, dangerous objects
    3. decline Martin Perez
    - offer him a minor league deal
    4. other FA position players (Castro, Schoop)
    5. trade Jake Cave for a minor leaguer with options
     
    REMOVE(D) From 40-Man:
    Cave
    Castro
    Schoop
    Cron
    Torreyes
    Lamarre
    Miller
    Dyson (possible 2 year Pineda-esque rehab deal)
    Perez (offer minor-league deal)
    Harper (offer minor-league deal)
    Stewart (offer minor-league deal)
    Hildenberger (offer minor-league deal)
    Poppen (offer minor-league deal)
     
    PROTECT from Rule 5:
    Raley
    Duran
    Jax
    Blankenhorn
    Colina
    ** T. Wells
     
    also still on the 40:
    Thorpe, Shashak, Dobnak, Gordon, Alcala, Gonsalves, Romero
    ** Wells can be transferred to the 60-day DL after the season starts, which is why I protected him.
     
    PITFALLS:
    1. only 2 catchers to open the 40-man is not ideal, but should attract good minor league FAs.
    2. not a ton of room to add payroll at the deadline unless attendance kicks ass the first half.
    3. not many backup position players who are close to major league ready. Gordon, Raley, Blankenhorn, and a 3rd catcher (Rortvedt/Jeffers/Telis/other minor league FA) better be ready to play.
  21. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Closing Time for the Twins   
    As of this writing the Minnesota Twins have made just one move to solidify their bullpen for 2019. Snagging non-tendered reliever Blake Parker on a one-year deal, Rocco Baldelli’s relief corps hasn’t been overhauled by any means. Knowing the innings will need to be allocated across the group in the season ahead, there’s plenty of uncertainty when attempting to determine roles. From a traditional sense, that’s a fine determination. For those concerned with such things however, we’re left wondering who closes things out?
     
    On January 14 the Parker deal was made official. It is a $3.2 million pact, but the oddity is that only $1.8 million is guaranteed. The former Angel receives a $1.4 million sum if he is on Minnesota’s active roster for 160 days. It’s a weird stipulation that needed to be agreed to for a guy who’s put up solid numbers over the past two years. Being non-tendered is one thing, but this almost makes it look like Parker didn’t have great prospects elsewhere either. Regardless, I believe he can help Minnesota’s pen.
     
    Pitching for Los Angeles each of the past two years Parker earned 22 saves. Never tabbed the closer from the get-go, he’s filled in during times of need and done so admirably. A high strikeout and strong command pitcher, Parker has the makings of a guy able to succeed in the 9th or a setup role. From there, things get less certain.
     
    If there’s a “proven closer” among the current bunch it’s Addison Reed. Signed to a two-year last winter, Reed was expected to be a difference maker for the Twins. He flopped and battled injury in Minnesota but has always shown so much more. He was far too hittable last season but remained relatively strong in terms of limiting walks. With 125 saves to his credit, operating as a closer is something he’s familiar with. In talking with Reed last spring, he told me he could care less about the save aside from grabbing some prior to arbitration. Should Minnesota be able to right the 30-year-old on a path that he had previously been on, they’ll have a strong late inning reliever no matter where he’s used.
     
    From an internally developed standpoint Minnesota has only two options. Trevor May and Trevor Hildenberger look like the most logical fits. The former is a converted starter that seems to be able to amp it up in relief, why the latter is a crafty reliever who’s used deception and stuff to fuel a level of dominance out of the pen. I’d suggest May as profiling more towards your prototypical closer, but it’s clear that Hildenberger has found success in that arena as well.
     
    The Twins watched a further breakout from Taylor Rogers in 2018, and while his numbers are spectacular, I think he continues to slot in best during optimal high leverage. Being called upon situationally late in games allows for him to dictate matchups and utilize his best stuff for getting opponents out. Fernando Romero looks like he could be headed to the pen this year, and the blazing fastball would certainly play up in relief. Over time I’d be far from shocked if he doesn’t force himself into high leverage. Initially, Minnesota may be cautious to keep him stretched out, and even if not, asking him to immediately work the most important innings could be a tough ask.
     
    From here Baldelli won’t have much to turn to. J.T. Chargois is gone, John Curtiss was just DFA’d, Jake Reed has yet to be promoted, and Tyler Jay is still on the farm. If there’s someone outside of the previously mentioned big league names ready to reign in the closer role for this club, they aren’t currently on the roster. Cody Allen continues to be a name that makes so much sense, and I’ve heard rumblings that the interest is mutual. Until that deal comes to fruition however, it’s a wait and see sort of scenario.
     
    Even with an Allen marriage in Minnesota, this collection is setting up like a group that will rotate the hot hand rather often. Allen has recorded at least 24 saves in each of his five seasons operating as the Indians closer, but the Twins could see something like five different players record marks in that category. From both a developmental exercise to a best fit scenario, the Twins relievers possess a wide spectrum of potential outcomes for the 2019 season. The best-case scenario looks to be a collection that succeeds by being quality over the sum of its parts. There probably isn’t going to be a runaway fireman called on at every opportunity but being able to adequately operate together gives this group promise.
     
    Right now, today, it’s hard to envision the Twins front office feeling good about where the relief corps is at. The bulk of the work has been done, but another signing seems almost necessary. We’ll know more about who takes what role, when, as spring training gets underway. There’s going to be uncertainty for this group regardless, but I think it’s less damaging than immediately may be assumed.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  22. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Making the Most of Max   
    Expecting somewhat of a breakout campaign for Max Kepler in 2018 was a relatively accepted possibility going into last season. When the dust settled, his .727 OPS was the lowest of his career and there was no denying his performance left plenty to be desired. Rectifying the ability to hit left-handed pitchers, he fell off against righties and the offense tanked. 2019 represents new opportunity, and according to at least one project system, there’s some reason to get excited.
     
    Steamer projections have the Twins outfielder pegged for 2.6 fWAR in 2019, a mark that would replicate his 2018 season. Although the result is similar, the path to get there is a new one. A .779 OPS with a .336 OBP is suggested for the German native and those would both be massive boosts to career .730 and .313 marks respectively. So, in other words, the bat arrives.
     
    Last season Kepler’s value was heavily tied to his defensive presence. With Byron Buxton shelved due to ineffectiveness and injury, Max was called to take on a more demanding presence in the outfield. He tallied 390 innings in center after having played 90 total in the two years prior. His 10 DRS and 10.8 UZR both blew previous tallies out of the water, and even the eye test suggested that the mainstay in the Minnesota outfield was a great glove.
     
    I’ve previously discussed some of the reasons that Kepler appeared to be hampered in 2018. He has consistently vocalized a desire to put the ball on the ground, and while his hit profile suggested he was accomplishing lifting the ball more last season, it wasn’t at an optimal level. His launch angle increased, and the hard-hit rate was a career high, but a lack of line drives held him back given the ground ball outputs and failed HR/FB ratio.
     
    On top of how he was putting the ball in play, Kepler shifted his platoon splits drastically year over year. After struggling mightily with lefties in 2017, his .745 OPS was a drastic improvement. Posting an .828 OPS against righties in 2017 kept his head above water, but that mark dipped all the way down to .720 last season. Settling in more of a middle ground would give Rocco Baldelli a greater assurance that Kepler is capable of being deployed daily and expecting a high level of value no matter who is on the bump.
     
    Looking ahead to what Steamer sees of Kepler in the season ahead, it’s hard not to draw loose comparisons to some of the realities Byron Buxton faces. Kepler has elevated his defensive profile to be a real asset on its own and pushing his OPS anywhere near the .800 mark would genuinely elevate him to a star player level. I’ve found myself bullish on Max believing him to be better than the likes of Eddie Rosario going forward, and it’s this all-encompassing ability that would drive that notion. Max doesn’t have to be a world beater at the plate to take the next step, but if a couple of tweaks are made, this is a guy we’re talking about for years to come.
     
    There’s long been a notion that defense doesn’t slump, so maybe the Steamer projections shouldn’t come as a surprise. If Kepler is in fact the second-most valuable Twins player in 2019, I’m not sure that’s anything but positive. Needing a handful of former top prospects to hit on all cylinders this season, Minnesota will be successful as a sum of its greater parts. With the calendar now turned over, Kepler has an opportunity to be the guy everything indicates he’s capable of. Now we wait and see what happens.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  23. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Bryce Harper a bad bargain   
    Okay, we know we are not in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. Be glad. Only Boras can sell him as the $400 million dollar man. If we look closely we know better. What were his stats this year? 1.3 WAR. 248, 34, 100. Yes he had a +133 OPS. Is that worth $40 million a year? He has had 7 years and an accumulated 27.4 WAR - 3.9 per year. What is that worth? Lets me realistic here. The following article says that in this inflated era a player gets $3.8 million per war - that means that for 2018 Harper was worth about $5 Million. If we take his average over his career it means just under $15million. Will he sign for that? Of course not. Boras has the league buffaloed so he will get twice or more for that.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/baseball/comments/7vwjmy/realistic_war_how_much_should_players_actually/
     
    He will argue that these are his prime years coming up and that is true. However, how long is his prime? Most estimates make 32 the maximum. https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/9933/how-do-baseball-players-age-investigating-the-age-27-theory/ Then what? Look at Pujols. He might be DFA'd now that the Angels have gotten a first baseman and DH. Or Tulowitzki who has been DFA'd with two big years left on his contract.
     
    Of course we can always look at the impact that the player has on winning. Harper has been with the Nationals seven years. They have been first 4 times and second 3 times. Of course they also have Scherzer the best pitcher in the NL (I know some like Kershaw) and Strasburg and Rodon and Werth and Turner... Yet they have never made the WS. They lost in the LDS four times 3 - 2. Mr Harper never took them over the top.
     
    A team is a team, not a star and bit players. Those who chase Harper or the guy who does not want to play all out, but will play dirty can expend the big bucks, but the Twins have much more affordable options in the next tier. Of course that assumes the Twins want to win and want to spend.
  24. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Thrylos for a blog entry, Willians Astrudillo might be the second coming of an equally unheralded catcher that won the Twins a championship   
    Originally published at The Tenth Inning Stretch
    ---------
     
    12/13/1988: The MLB transactions for the Minnesota Twins had one line: The Twins signed free agent catcher Brian Harper to an one year contract worth $90,000. The Twins were the sixth franchise for Harper who was drafted by the California Angels in the 4th round of the 1977 MLB June Amateur Draft, traded to the Pirates and then the Cardinals who released him on April Fool's 1986, and then signed and released by the Tigers and A's in single year assignments.
     
    Harper was an intriguing guy. He hit .353/.403/.653 as a 28 year old in AAA Portland before the Twins brought him up to finish the season with the big club, hitting .295/.344/.428 with 10 walks and 12 strikeouts in 184 plate appearances. Harper became the Twins starting catcher in 1989 and held that post until 1993. His tenure with the Twins included an otherworldly .381/.435/.476 slash line in 26 World Series plate appearances in 1991, the best World Series ever.
     
    Fast forward about 30 years: November 25, 2017: The Twins sign 26 year old Willians Astrudillo as a minor league free agent. After a stint in AAA, like Harper, Astrudillo made it to the bigs, where there were a lot of accolades, regarding his low walking and strikeout percentage, and about his lack of being a "three outcome guy". Astudillo's line last season ended up being .355/.371/.516 with a 2.1 BB% and a 3.1 K%. In 1991 Brian Harper ended the season with a 3.0 BB % and a 4.7 K%. Both were about his career average for the Twins.
     
    After 1993 strike Harper moved on and ended up his career with a .295/.329/.419 major league line with a 3.9 BB% and a 5.6 K%. Both Harper and Astudillo have had questions about their defensive ability, and like Astudillo Harper had to play other positions (OF, 1B and 3B) before he was established.
     
    Harper was an integral part of the Twins 1991 team. Might be the time to let Astudillo be the "Harp" for these Twins...
  25. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to ashbury for a blog entry, Arizona Fall League 2018 - Nov 1 & 2   
    I feel like posting a little bit on my trip to Phoenix for the Arizona Fall League.
     
    I arrived Thursday and was picked up at the airport by ashburydavid. Nice that he could take a day off from work to join his dad for a long weekend of baseball watching. Salt River, the team all the Twins prospects are on, had played earlier in the day, so we contented ourselves watching the evening game in Scottsdale. You can get good seats at the AFL:
     

     
    The game itself between Scottsdale and Peoria was very crisply played. It was a 1-0 pitchers duel through 7 innings, before Peoria scored 3 more, and although the home team notched a couple on a ninth inning homer by first baseman Hall, this 4-2 outcome was completed in slightly more than two hours. Scorpions left fielder Trammell made a pair of very fine catches that might have kept the final score from being more lopsided. We had good luck in being seated near a few very talkative fans who kept us company during the game.
     
    Friday we made our way over to Surprise Stadium for a Salt River Rafters game against the host Saguaros. By the luck of the draw I've been there for several AFL games over the years, and I think it's a nice one:
     

     
    Travis Blankenhorn was the only Twins prospect who played today. He went 1 for 4 plus a walk, scoring two runs. Here he is, on deck - he sees his shadow, so six more weeks of AFL?
     

     
    Blankenhorn made a nice defensive play in the sixth inning with an unassisted putout on a grounder before throwing to first to complete a DP. And here is his home run trot - coming around to score after his third-inning walk, when Sam Hilliard hit a homer, but it's still a trot. He also scored in the top of the sixth on a sac fly, after singling and then moving up a base at a time. He caught the pop fly that ended the 8-3 victory in 7 innings (scheduled as such, to avoid tiring the pitching staffs in advance of the Fall Stars Game coming up on Saturday.)
     

     
    This is Salt River manager Tommy Watkins after making a pitching change.
     

     
    After the game, Tommy caught us unawares, by noticing my son and me with Twins or Twins Cities related gear (me with my St Paul Saints shirt, ashburydavid with his Rochester Red Wings shirt and his TC Twins hat), seated down low as we were. He made a point of asking where we were from. Just a 30 second interaction, but it's clear why Tommy gets such favorable reviews from all who meet him - he is an outgoing guy, plain and simple.
     
    Tomorrow we go back to Surprise for the aforementioned Fall Stars Game.
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