Minor League Baseball

Minor League Baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball (MLB) and provide opportunities for player development and a way to prepare for the major leagues. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses. Most are members of the umbrella organization known as Minor League Baseball (MiLB), which operates under the Commissioner of Baseball within the scope of organized baseball. Several leagues, known as independent baseball leagues, do not have any official links to Major League Baseball.

Except for the Mexican League, teams in the organized minor leagues are generally independently owned and operated but are directly affiliated with one major league team through a standardized Player Development Contract (PDC). These leagues also go by the nicknames the "farm system", "farm club", or "farm team(s)" because of a joke passed around by major league players in the 1930s when St. Louis Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey formalized the system, and teams in small towns were "growing players down on the farm like corn".

Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball teams may enter into a PDC for a two- or four-year term. At the expiration of a PDC term, teams may renew their affiliation, or sign new PDCs with different clubs, though many relationships are 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 changed affiliations, after being associated with the New York Yankees from 1979, to the Washington Nationals in 2007, and have been affiliated with the Cleveland Indians since 2009.

A few 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 Atlanta Braves' affiliates except the Florida Fire Frogs. Minor League teams that are owned directly by the major league club do not have PDCs with the parent club and are typically not part of the reaffiliation shuffles that occur each year.

Today, there are 14 MLB-affiliated minor leagues with a total of 160 revenue-generating teams, located in large, medium, and small cities and suburbs across the United States and Canada, and there are three MLB-affiliated rookie leagues with a total of 80 teams, located in Arizona, Florida, and the Dominican Republic, though these teams do not generate revenue. The Mexican League, with 16 teams, is independent but closely tied with MLB.[1] Several more independent leagues operate in the United States and Canada.

Minor League Baseball
MiLB logo
Minor League Baseball logo
SportBaseball
FoundedSeptember 5, 1901
No. of teams256
CountriesUnited States
Canada
Mexico
Dominican Republic
HeadquartersSt. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
TV partner(s)CBS Sports Network
MiLB.tv, local tv stations
Official websiteMiLB.com

History

Minor league
Class A-Advanced California League game in San Jose, California, 1994

The earliest professional baseball league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players of 1871 to 1875, 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.

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 $1000. Northwest League teams could reserve players paid merely $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 together 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 nasty 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[2]. In response to the NL–AL battle, they agreed to form the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, called the NAPBL, or NA for short. (The NA uses the trade name Minor League Baseball today.) 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.[3] 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 sports writers. 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.

Current system

Ballgame
The third base stands of the Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express

With rare exception, minor league teams are not owned by major league clubs, but have affiliation contracts with them. Major League Rule 56 governs the standard terms of a Player Development Contract (PDC), which is the standard agreement of association between a minor league team and its major league affiliate. 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.[4] In even-numbered years, any major or minor league club with an expiring PDC may notify Major League Baseball or Minor League Baseball, respectively, of its desire to explore a re-affiliation with a different PDC partner. The Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball offices then send a list of the corresponding major and minor league clubs seeking new affiliations, and there is a limited period of time in September within which clubs may agree upon new PDCs. If any are left over after this process, the Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball offices are empowered to assign major and minor league clubs to each other.

At the start of the 2018 season, the longest continuous affiliations were two 53-year links: between the Philadelphia Phillies and their Double-A Eastern League affiliate, the Reading Fightin Phils; and the one between the Detroit Tigers and their Class A-Advanced Florida State League affiliate, the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Both Reading and Lakeland are now owned outright by their parent major league clubs.

There are several baseball clubs that operate teams at multiple levels of the minor leagues; they are not required to affiliate all of their clubs to the same major league franchise. Bob Rich, Jr., for example, owns the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons and the short-season Class A West Virginia Black Bears, the latter of which had been the Jamestown Jammers before the 2015 season. Even though the teams were located slightly more than 70 miles (110 km) apart before the Jammers' relocation, Rich has never affiliated the two teams with the same parent club.

The current minor league classification system divides leagues into one of six classes, those being 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 is further informally subdivided into Rookie Advanced, complex-based Rookie and international summer baseball. Under the rules governing the affiliated minor leagues (specifically Major League Baseball Rule 51), Class A-Advanced, Class A, and Class A Short Season are separate classifications despite the similarity in name.

Most leagues at Double-A and below play a split season, where the standings are reset at the halfway mark, and the winners of both halves qualify for post-season play. This allows teams to remain in contention longer into the season, as rosters feature heavy turnover during the course of the season.

Triple-A

This classification currently includes two affiliated leagues: the International League and the Pacific Coast League, which feature teams from Eastern and Western United States respectively.[5] For most of the 20th century, it also contained the American Association, based in the Midwest, but that league disbanded, its clubs absorbed by the other two leagues, as part of a reorganization of the Triple-A level in 1997. The Mexican League is also classified as a Triple-A league, though its clubs do not have PDCs with major league clubs.

Both young players and veterans play for Triple-A teams. Teams usually hold many of the remaining 15 players of the 40-man major league roster whom the major league club has chosen not to play at the major league level. Players at Triple-A on the 40-man roster can be invited to come up to the major league club once the major league roster expands on September 1, although teams usually wait until their affiliates' playoff runs are over, should they qualify. For teams in contention for a pennant, it gives them fresh players. For those not in contention, it gives them an opportunity to evaluate their second-tier players against major league competition.[6] Some Triple-A players are "career minor leaguers", former prospects whose skill growth has halted and are not likely to advance to MLB, unless as a temporary replacement.[7]

Unlike at other levels of competition, the two affiliated Triple-A leagues meet each summer in the Triple-A All-Star Game, first played in 1988. Each league fields a team composed of the top players in their respective leagues as voted on by fans, the media, and each club's field manager and general manager.[8] In another instance of interleague play, the annual Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game has been held since 2006 to serve as a single championship game between the champions of the International League and Pacific Coast League to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball.[9] There have previously been multi-game championship series, sometimes styled as the Junior World Series, for this purpose.

Double-A

There are currently three leagues in this classification: Eastern League, Southern League, and the Texas League.[5] Some players jump to the majors from this level, as many of the top prospects are put here to play against each other rather than against minor and major league veterans in Triple-A.[7] A small handful of players might be placed here to start, usually veterans from foreign leagues with more experience in professional baseball. The expectation is usually that these players will be in the majors by the end of the season, as their salaries tend to be higher than those of most prospects.

Class A-Advanced

One level below Double-A, the California League, Carolina League, and the Florida State League play at the Class A-Advanced level, also known as "Class A+" or "High A".[5] This is often a second or third promotion for a minor league player, although a few high first-round draftees, particularly those with college experience, begin at this level. These leagues play a complete season like Triple-A and Double-A, from April through early September. Many of the teams in the Florida State League are owned by major league parent clubs and use their spring training complexes. The class consists of 30 teams from around the United States, from San Jose to Tampa.

Class A

Slightly below Class A-Advanced are the full-season Class A leagues, the South Atlantic League and Midwest League.[5] These leagues are a mix of players moving up from the Short Season and Rookie leagues, as well as the occasional experienced first-year player. These leagues play a full 140-game schedule, which runs from the first week of April through the first week of September.

Short-season leagues

Short-season leagues, as the name implies, play a shortened season of 76 games, starting in mid-June and ending in early September, with only a few off-days during the season. The late start of the season is designed to allow college players to complete their college seasons in the spring, then be drafted, signed, and immediately placed in a competitive league (the MLB First Year Player Draft begins on the first Monday in June).

Players in short season leagues are a mixture of newly signed draftees who are considered more advanced than other draftees, and second-year pros who were not ready or for whom there was not space at a higher level to move up. Second-year pros are assigned to "extended spring training" in Florida or Arizona during April and May before reporting to their short season leagues.

Of the 30 major league clubs, 14 field teams in Class A Short Season only, 8 clubs field their top short-season teams in the Rookie Advanced leagues, and 8 clubs have affiliates at both levels.

Class A Short Season

Class A Short Season, despite the name, is a separate classification from Class A. Class A Short Season teams are slightly more limited than Class A teams with respect to player age and years of experience in professional baseball. There are two Class A Short Season leagues, the New York–Penn League and Northwest League.

Rookie Advanced

The Appalachian League and Pioneer League are known as "Rookie Advanced" leagues. The players in these leagues are thought to be further along in their development than players in the pure Rookie leagues, and hence games are more competitive. Teams in these leagues sell concessions and charge admission.

Rookie

MiLB leagues with the Rookie classification play a shortened season, similar to, but slightly shorter than, the short season leagues, starting in mid-June and ending in late August or early September. This lowest level of minor league baseball consists of two domestic leagues, the Arizona League and Gulf Coast League, and one foreign-based league, the Dominican Summer League.[5]

The domestic Rookie leagues play a 60-game schedule, and are usually called "complex leagues" because games are played at their parent clubs' spring training complexes. Rosters comprise newly drafted players who are not ready for a higher level of play. These leagues are intended almost exclusively to allow players to hone their skills; no admission is charged and no concessions are sold.

Rehabilitation assignments

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.

Curt Schilling's recovery from an ankle injury in 2005 included a rehabilitation stint in Pawtucket, Rhode Island at the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, very close to the home club in Boston. The Cincinnati Reds often send players to their Class A affiliate, the Dayton Dragons, for rehab assignments. Despite Dayton's status as Class A, Dayton is a short, 50-mile drive away from the Reds' Great American Ball Park.

Former Minnesota Twins superstar 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 well-equipped spring training facility in Fort Myers. In addition, the Miracle manager at the time was Mauer's older brother Jake. The Twins later sent Joe Mauer and pitcher Ricky Nolasco to rehab with the club's Low-A affiliate located across the Minnesota-Iowa border in Cedar Rapids.[10]

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.[11]

Reorganization of 1963

The current minor league structure is largely based on a significant reorganization that occurred before the 1963 season, which was caused by the club and league contraction of the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1949, the peak of the post-World War II minor league baseball boom, 438 teams in 59 leagues were members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. By the end of 1963, only 15 leagues survived in the United States and Canada.[12]

Previous structure (1946–1962)

Before 1946, the minors' highest level was labeled Double-A. In 1946, the Triple-A classification was created and the three Double-A circuits (the Pacific Coast and International leagues, and the American Association) were automatically reclassified Triple-A. The Class A1 level, two rungs below the Majors and comprising the Texas League and the Southern Association, was then renamed Double-A.

Prior to 1963, the Class A level was a higher-rung classification. In 1946, Class A consisted of the Eastern League and the original South Atlantic or "Sally" League, and it would soon include the Western League (1947–1958), Central League (1948–1951) and Western International League (1952–1954). The WIL became the Class B Northwest League in 1955, and the Western and Central loops folded. But postwar Class A cities included communities such as Denver, in Major League Baseball since 1993, as well as Vancouver, Omaha, Colorado Springs, Charlotte, Scranton and Allentown, which would establish themselves as Triple-A venues.

The lower levels of the minors were ranked Classes B through D in descending order. With the exception of the 1952–1957 Open Classification experiment for the Pacific Coast League, this structure would remain intact through 1962. (See Defunct levels, below)

The 1963 classification realignment

After the 1962 season, the Triple-A American Association (which had lost key markets such as Milwaukee, Kansas City, Minneapolis, St. 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:

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.[12]

Further changes after 1963

  • 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 its current identity, the Southern League. Because of continued contraction (and Major League expansion) that left each circuit with only seven teams, the Texas and Southern leagues merged into the 14-team Dixie Association in 1971. The arrangement lasted only for that season and the records and history of the Texas and Southern loops were kept distinct. In 1972, each league added an eighth team, rebalancing their schedules. They resumed their former, separate identities, and returned to prosperity with the revival of minor league baseball that began in the 1980s.
  • Class A: In 1965, the Class A Short Season designation was created, and the Northern and Northwest loops moved from "full season" Class A into the new classification (with the New York–Penn League following in 1967). Over time, the California, Carolina and Florida State leagues became known within baseball as Class A-Advanced leagues, one rung below Double-A, splitting the Class A level even further. The Georgia–Florida League disbanded after the 1963 season, while the Northern League played its last year in official minor league baseball in 1971. In 1980, the Western Carolinas League changed its identity to become the modern incarnation of the South Atlantic League.
  • 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 modern 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.
  • Failed start-up leagues: During the 1970s, three "official" minor leagues attempted unsuccessfully to revive unaffiliated baseball 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.

Defunct levels

Open

The Pacific Coast League, which operated from 1952 to 1957, was the only minor league to obtain open classification. At this time, the major leagues only extended as far west as St. Louis 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 classification 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. The open classification no longer exists in the major league rules.

Class A1

The forerunner to the modern Double-A classification, the A1 level existed from 1936 through 1945. In 1936, two Class A circuits, the Texas League and the Southern Association, were upgraded to Class A1 to signify their continued status as one step below the highest classification, then Double-A, yet a notch above their former Class A peers, the New York–Pennsylvania League and Western League. Ten years later, after World War II, with the minor leagues poised for unprecedented growth, classification terminology was changed. Beginning in 1946, the three Double-A leagues of 1912–1945, the American Association and International and Pacific Coast leagues, joined a new classification, Triple-A, and the Class A1 level became known as Double-A.

Class B, C and D

Until 1963, there were also Class B, C, and D leagues (and, for half a season, one E league). The Class D of that period would be equivalent to the Rookie level today. The other class designations disappeared because leagues of that level could not sustain operation during a large downturn in the financial fortunes of minor league baseball in the 1950s and 1960s caused by the rise of television broadcasts of major league sports across broad regions of the country. The impact of the Korean War in 1950 caused a player shortage in most cities in class D and C. The Class E level existed briefly in 1943 in the form of the Twin Ports League. It folded July 13 after six weeks of operation.

Players

Only 25 of the players on a Major League Baseball team's 40-man major league reserve list may be active for the major league club, with two exceptions. One minor exception is that when a team is scheduled to play a doubleheader, it is allowed to carry 26 players on the active roster for that day only.[13] The more significant exception is that from September 1 to the end of the regular season, teams are allowed to expand their game-day rosters to 40 players. (As of the 2019 sesson, the September 1 roster limit will be 28 players.[14]) The remaining 15 players are generally either on the injured list or play 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. The 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.[15] 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 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 turn their career around in the independent leagues.

Even though minor league players are paid considerably less than their major league counterparts, they are nevertheless paid for their services and are thus considered professional athletes. Minor league salaries vary based on class level and length of season; however, the majority of players make less than $10,000 per season.[16] Baseball cards refer to "pro record" and "pro seasons" as including both major and minor leagues. For this reason, minor league players generally consider it an insult when someone asks when they're going to "get to the pros". More accurately, a player's aim is to reach "The Show" or the "big leagues."

Umpires

Umpires at the minor league level are overseen by Minor League Baseball Umpire Development, which is responsible for the training, evaluation, and recommendation for promotion and retention or release of the umpires.[17]

The umpires are evaluated eight times a season by the staff of the MiLB Umpire Development, 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. Umpire Development holds an annual 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 the Rookie and short season leagues.[18]

Any student who wants to work as an umpire must attend a professional umpire training school. The MiLB 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 Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy is owned and operated by Minor League Baseball Umpire Development (MiLBUD), while Wendelstedt 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 also be recommended either to the evaluation course or to the openings in the Rookie or short season leagues. Generally, less than 20% of umpire school students move on to the Rookie Evaluation Course.[19]

Before the umpire development program was created, the Minor League presidents would recruit umpires directly from the schools. Umpires were then "sold" from league to league by word of mouth through the various league presidents.[20]

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 Umpire Development 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 each year. The first "Umpire Specialization Course" was held in St. Petersburg, Florida the following year.[21]

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, though they are permitted to wear glasses or contact lenses.[22] They must also have good communication skills, good reflexes and coordination, and must have trained at one of the two professional umpire schools.

On June 21, 2016, the Gulf Coast League hired Jen Pawol, the first female umpire in Minor League Baseball since 2007.[23]

Presidents of Minor League Baseball

Minor League Baseball Front Office
Minor League Baseball Headquarters, St. Petersburg, Florida

Television and radio

Minor League Baseball has a national television contract with CBS Sports Network, which airs 10–15 games on Thursday nights. The arrangement began in 2014 and will continue through the 2015 season.[24] For the 2015 season, select MiLB games will be featured on the American Sports Network.[25] Also, many individual teams have contracts with local over-the-air channels. Games are also occasionally simulcast on MLB Network.

MiLB.TV

MiLB.TV is the minor leagues' official online video streaming service, in the vein of Major League Baseball's MLB.tv. The service currently offers every Triple-A game and select games from the other classifications.

Radio

Nearly every minor-league team has its own local radio contract, though unlike their major-league counterparts, these generally consist of only one or two individual stations. Minor League Baseball currently has an arrangement with TuneIn to provide free audio streams of virtually every game.[26]

Independent baseball

Haymarket park
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.[27]

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.[28] 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.[29] 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.[28][30]

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.[31] Over the next eight years, at least 16 independent leagues formed, of which six existed in 2002.[28] As of 2016, seven independent leagues are in operation in the United States and Canada, compared to 19 in organized Minor League Baseball.

List of leagues

Triple-A
Double-A
Class A-Advanced
Class A (Full Season)
Class A Short Season
Rookie Advanced
Rookie
Off-season leagues
Independent leagues

Awards

MiLBY Awards

The Minor League Baseball Yearly (MiLBY) Awards (formerly "This Year in Minor League Baseball Awards") are given in nine categories. In five categories (Best Starter, Best Hitter, Best Reliever, Best Game, and Best Team), winners are selected in each of the five levels of minor-league baseball (Triple-A, Double-A, Class A-Advanced, Class A, and Class A Short Season). In three categories (Play of the Year, Moment of the Year, and Homer of the Year), one overall winner is chosen for all of minor-league baseball. In the remaining category (Promo of the Year), there are overall winners in each of five subcategories: Best Promotion (of all types), Best Theme Night, Best Giveaway, Best Celebrity Appearance, and Best Miscellaneous Promotion.

Other player awards

Major awards

  • John H. Johnson President's Award (1974) – given each year, MiLB's top award recognizes "the complete baseball franchise—based on franchise stability, contributions to league stability, contributions to baseball in the community, and promotion of the baseball industry."[36][37]
  • Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year (1976) – given each year to a woman in MiLB for exceptional contributions to her club, her league, or baseball.[36][38]
  • Warren Giles Award (1984) – given each year to a league president for outstanding service.[36][38][39]
  • King of Baseball (1951) – given annually in recognition of longtime dedication and service to professional baseball.[36]
  • Larry MacPhail Award (1966) – given annually in recognition of team promotions.[36][40]
  • Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award (2008) – given to a person with distinguished service who has been instrumental in player development.[36]
  • Mike Coolbaugh Award (2008) – given to someone who has shown an outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game, and skill in mentoring young players on the field.[36]

Top 100 teams

During its centennial celebration in 2001, Minor League Baseball compiled a list of the 100 best minor-league baseball teams of the century.[41]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Teams by Name". MiLB.com. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  2. ^ "General History | MiLB.com History | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". MiLB.com. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  3. ^ National Agreement of 1903
  4. ^ "Minor league teams, but mighty big numbers as franchise values soar". sportsbusinessdaily.com. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Standings". Minor League Baseball Official Website. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
  6. ^ Shelburne, Ramona (September 1, 2010). "John Lindsey waits for his chance". ESPN. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Moore, Jeff (July 2, 2013). "Understanding minor league levels". The Hardball Times. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  8. ^ Wild, Danny (May 30, 2014). "Voting begins for Triple-A All-Star Game". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  9. ^ Hill, Benjamin (February 8, 2011). "Isotopes to Host Triple-A Championship". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  10. ^ "Twins Tuesday: Joe Mauer toiling for family in Cedar Rapids". FoxSports.com. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  11. ^ "Angels' Trout to make rehab start Wednesday". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, eds., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 2nd edition. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 1997
  13. ^ "25-Man Roster". Major League Baseball. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  14. ^ https://973espn.com/major-changes-coming-to-mlb-for-trade-deadline-rosters/
  15. ^ "Most minor league ballplayers earn less than half as much money as fast-food workers". For The Win. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  16. ^ Babb, Kent. "Baseball's minor leaguers pursue their dreams below the poverty line". WashingtonPost.com. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  17. ^ "Umpires". MiLB.com. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  18. ^ Wendelstedt course overview Wendelstedt umpire school. February 19, 2010
  19. ^ Minor league baseball umpires February 19, 2010
  20. ^ Umpire development history Minor League Baseball portal. February 19, 2010
  21. ^ Minor league umpires Retrieved on February 19, 2010
  22. ^ How to become an umpire Retrieved on February 19, 2010
  23. ^ Rivera, Joe. "Minor League Baseball hires first female umpire since 2007". Sporting News. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  24. ^ "Minor League Baseball returns to CBS Sports – MiLB.com News – The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". MiLB.com. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  25. ^ "Sinclair to televise Minors games on ASN – MiLB.com News – The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". MiLB.com. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  26. ^ "Listen Live on TuneIn Radio – MiLB.com Multimedia – The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". MiLB.com. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  27. ^ Kraus, Rebecca S. (2012). Minor League Baseball: Community Building Through Hometown Sports. Routledge. p. 43. ISBN 0789017563. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  28. ^ a b c Kraus, Rebecca S. (2012). Minor League Baseball: Community Building Through Hometown Sports. Routledge. p. 44. ISBN 0789017563. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  29. ^ R.G. (Hank) Utley, Scott Verner (1999). The Independent Carolina Baseball League, 1936–1938: Baseball Outlaws. ISBN 0786423188.
  30. ^ Bjarkman, Peter C. (2005). Diamonds Around the Globe: The Encyclopedia of International Baseball. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 78–79. ISBN 0313322686. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  31. ^ Kraus, Rebecca S. (2012). Minor League Baseball: Community Building Through Hometown Sports. Routledge. p. 47. ISBN 0789017563. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  32. ^ In October 2009, Buster Posey received the 50th annual J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the Topps/Minor League Player of the Year. Wild, Danny (October 28, 2009). "Giants' Posey wins '09 Spink Award: Catcher skipped Double-A, dominated at San Jose, Fresno". Minor League Baseball (MiLB.com). Retrieved June 9, 2010. See also MLB 2009 Awards (MLB.com/News/Awards/2009 Awards). MLB Advanced Media, L.P. (MLB.com). Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  33. ^ The MiLB J.G. Taylor Spink Award should not be confused with the identically named J. G. Taylor Spink Award that is the highest award given by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) to its members.
  34. ^ "Topps, MiLB name Players of the Year: Trautman Award winners announced for each league". Minor League Baseball (MiLB.com). November 5, 2009. Retrieved June 9, 2010.
  35. ^ Hill, Benjamin, "Jones slugs way to Bauman Award: Home run crown, first big league action mark milestone season", MLB.com, September 15, 2009. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved September 22, 2009.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g "History: MiLB Major Award Winners". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
  37. ^ Avallone, Michael (November 19, 2007). "Minor League Baseball announces top honorees: Annual awards salute outstanding organizations and executives". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 22, 2009. [Presented] annually to the franchise that best exemplifies the complete Minor League Baseball organization. Categories under consideration include long-term financial stability, contributions to the industry and the community, financial success and overall promotion of the industry.
  38. ^ a b Avallone, Michael (November 19, 2007). "Minor League Baseball announces top honorees: Annual awards salute outstanding organizations and executives". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  39. ^ Czerwinski, Kevin T. (December 14, 2006). "McEacharn claims 2006 Warren Giles Award". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
  40. ^ Avallone, Michael (November 19, 2007). "Minor League Baseball announces top honorees: Annual awards salute outstanding organizations and executives". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 22, 2009. The award recognize[s] the team's special tie with its community through unique promotions, a commitment to area events and support for charitable endeavors.
  41. ^ Top 100 Teams (1901–2001). Minor League Baseball. Retrieved August 19, 2010.

External links

All-Star Futures Game

The All-Star Futures Game is an annual baseball exhibition game hosted by Major League Baseball (MLB). Started in 1999, a team of Minor League Baseball prospects from the United States and a team of prospects from other countries in the world compete against each other. It is played as part of the festivities of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

AutoZone Park

AutoZone Park is a Minor League Baseball stadium located in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, and is home to the Memphis Redbirds of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Memphis 901 FC of the United Soccer League (USL). The Redbirds are the Triple-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's (MLB) St. Louis Cardinals. In 2009, the stadium was named Minor League Ballpark of the Year by Baseball America.

Bob Caruthers

Robert Lee Caruthers (January 5, 1864 – August 5, 1911), nicknamed "Parisian Bob", was an American right-handed pitcher and right fielder in Major League Baseball who played primarily for the St. Louis Browns and Brooklyn Bridegrooms. The star pitcher on five league champions in a ten-year career, he was the top pitcher in the American Association, leading that league in wins and shutouts twice each, winning percentage three times, and earned run average once. His 175 wins in the Association were the second most of any pitcher, and his league ERA of 2.62 was the lowest of any pitcher with at least 2,000 innings in the league; he was also the only pitcher to have 40-win seasons for two different Association teams. His career winning percentage was the highest of any pitcher prior to 1950 with at least 250 decisions; some sources recognize him as having compiled the highest winning percentage of any pitcher with at least 200 decisions (and retired as of 2006) in major league history.

Candy Cummings

William Arthur "Candy" Cummings (October 18, 1848 – May 16, 1924) was an American professional baseball player. He played as a pitcher in the National Association and National League. Cummings is widely credited with inventing the curveball. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.

Dominican Summer League

The Dominican Summer League is a branch of affiliated Minor League Baseball which is played in the Dominican Republic. The league was founded in 1985. After the demise of the Venezuelan Summer League after the 2015 season, it is the only Latin American based rookie league.The 2019 72-game season (64 games for the Boca Chica South) starts June 1 and ends August 24 with the playoffs starting on August 26.

The league will be played with forty-five teams in six divisions. With the exception of the cooperative team formed by the Brewers and Indians, each team is affiliated with a different major league franchise with fourteen organizations fielding two teams: the Cardinals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Mets, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Rockies, Royals and Tigers.

The six division winners advance to the playoffs. The two division champions with the best winning percentages receive byes to the semifinals.

Double-A (baseball)

Double-A (or Class AA) is the second highest level of play in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) in the United States after Triple-A. There are thirty Double-A teams in three leagues at this classification: Eastern League, Southern League, and the Texas League. The modern Double-A classification was created in 1946 with the renaming of Class A1, which then contained the Texas League and the Southern Association. After the Southern Association disbanded in 1961, the Eastern League and the original South Atlantic "Sally" League were bumped up to Double-A in the 1963 minor league reorganization. The SAL changed its name to the Southern League in 1964.

Eastern League (baseball)

The Eastern League is a Minor League Baseball league, which operates primarily in the northeastern United States, although it has had a team in Ohio since 1989. The Eastern League has played at the Double-A level since 1963. The league was founded in 1923, as the New York–Pennsylvania League. In 1936, the first team outside the two original states was created, when the York White Roses of York, Pennsylvania, moved to Trenton, New Jersey, and was renamed the Trenton Senators. In 1938, when the Scranton Miners of Scranton, Pennsylvania, moved to Hartford, Connecticut, and became the Hartford Bees, the league was renamed the Eastern League.

Since 1923, there have been Eastern League teams in 51 different cities, located in 12 different states and two Canadian provinces. The league consisted of six to eight teams from 1923 until 1993. In 1994, the league expanded to 10 teams, with the addition of the Portland Sea Dogs and the New Haven Ravens, and split into two divisions, the Northern Division and the Southern Division. In 1999, the league expanded to 12 teams, with the addition of the Altoona Curve and the Erie SeaWolves. The two divisions were restructured and renamed for the 2010 season, as the Eastern Division and the Western Division, because the Connecticut Defenders moved to Richmond, Virginia, after the 2009 season, where they are now known as the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

George Bradley

George Washington Bradley (July 13, 1852 – October 2, 1931), nicknamed "Grin", was an American Major League Baseball player who was a pitcher and infielder. He was 5'10.5" and weighed 175 lbs.

Louisville Colonels (minor league baseball)

The Louisville Colonels was the name of several minor league baseball teams that played in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 20th century. The name is derived from the historic Kentucky colonels.

Midland RockHounds

The Midland RockHounds are a minor league baseball team based in Midland, Texas. The team, which plays in the Texas League, is the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics major league club. The RockHounds play in Security Bank Ballpark, which opened in 2002 and seats 6,669 fans. The RockHounds have won seven Texas League championships: in 1975 (co-champions with the Lafayette Drillers), 2005, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Minor League Baseball rosters

As with nearly all North American professional team sports, the size of Minor League Baseball teams is limited by rosters. These size limits vary by each classification. All Major League Baseball-affiliated Triple-A and Double-A teams are limited to 25-man active rosters. Unaffiliated Mexican League teams have 35-man rosters, but are limited to 30 active players per game. Class A-Advanced and Class A teams are limited to 25 active players with a total of 35 players under control with additional limitations in regard to prior minor league experience. Teams at lower levels have 35-man active rosters with limitations on minor league service time. A team's reserve roster consists of players on the injured list, those who are restricted or suspended, or who are otherwise temporarily inactive. Major league players on rehabilitation assignments do not count against active roster limits.

Nashville Sounds

The Nashville Sounds are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. They are located in Nashville, Tennessee, and are named for the city's association with the music industry. The team plays its home games at First Tennessee Park which opened in 2015 and is located on the site of the historic Sulphur Dell ballpark. The Sounds previously played at Herschel Greer Stadium from its opening in 1978 until the end of the 2014 season.

Established as an expansion team of the Double-A Southern League in 1978, the Sounds were replaced by a Triple-A American Association team in 1985. The Triple-A Sounds carried on the history of the Double-A team that preceded it. Nashville later joined the PCL in 1998. The team has served as a farm club for eight major league franchises. A total of 28 managers have led the club and its over 1,200 players. Through the 2018 season, the team has played in 5,866 regular season games and compiled a win–loss record of 3,017–2,849.The Sounds have reached the postseason on 14 occasions. They have won ten division titles, two conference titles, and three league championships. Most recently, they won the PCL championship in 2005 as the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Previous league titles won by the team are the Southern League championship in 1979 as the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, and again in 1982 as the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The team has an overall postseason record of 42–41.

Nashville led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance in their inaugural season and continued to draw the Southern League's largest crowds in each of their seven years as members of the league. The 1980 Sounds were recognized as one of the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time. Of the three nine-inning perfect games in the history of the PCL, two have been pitched by members of the Sounds. In 2016, Forbes listed the Sounds as the 19th-most valuable Minor League Baseball team with a value of US$30.5 million. The Sounds are the oldest active professional sports franchise in Nashville.

Patsy Donovan

Patrick Joseph "Patsy" Donovan (March 16, 1865 – December 25, 1953) was an Irish-American right fielder and manager in Major League Baseball who played for several teams from 1890 to 1907, most notably the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He batted .300 lifetime and set a major league record for career games in right field, as well as retiring among the career leaders in total games (5th, 1813), assists (9th, 264) and double plays (5th, 69) as an outfielder. Donovan batted and threw left-handed.

Roger Connor

Roger Connor (July 1, 1857 – January 4, 1931) was a 19th-century Major League Baseball (MLB) player. He played for several teams, but his longest tenure was in New York, where he was responsible for the New York Gothams becoming known as the Giants. He was the player whom Babe Ruth succeeded as the all-time home run champion. Connor hit 138 home runs during his 18-year career, and his career home run record stood for 23 years after his retirement in 1897.

Connor owned and managed minor league baseball teams after his playing days. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by its Veterans Committee in 1976. Largely forgotten after his retirement, Connor was buried in an unmarked grave until a group of citizens raised money for a grave marker in 2001.

Tech Field (San Antonio)

Tech Field was a baseball stadium, located in San Antonio, Texas, from 1921 until 1946. It served as the home of the San Antonio Missions of the Texas League. It also served as the spring training site of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1936 and the St. Louis Browns from 1937–1941. The field belonged to the city high school today known as Fox Tech.

The Missions team moved to Tech Field after a June 18, 1932, fire destroyed the club's former home at League Park. The Missions then were affiliated with the St. Louis Browns, which had made some moves in the late 1930s toward buying the property. The Browns front office passed when offered the opportunity again, months before the city school district decided to sell it to the San Antonio Transit Company, forerunner of VIA Metropolitan Transit, for $160,000. Alamo Stadium, then opened in 1940 and become the chief venue for high school football. Tech Field was deem non-essential to the school district. The Missions were allowed to play there for a final season in 1946, before the field was demolished.

Tinker Field

Tinker Field was an outdoor baseball stadium in Orlando, Florida, United States. Named after Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Tinker, it was located in the West Lakes neighborhoods of Downtown Orlando, adjacent to the Camping World Stadium and one mile west of the Amway Center. In April, 2015 the City of Orlando tore down the grandstands and removed all other extant buildings.

Constructed in 1914, Tinker Field was the spring training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Senators, and Minnesota Twins. It was also the home park of the Orlando Rays minor league baseball team before they moved to Cracker Jack Stadium in 2000. It is located directly adjacent to the western side of the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium and boasted a capacity of 5,100 before the grandstands were removed in 2015.

Tommy McCarthy

Thomas Francis Michael McCarthy (July 24, 1863 – August 5, 1922) was an American Major League Baseball player. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.

Triple-A (baseball)

Triple-A or Class AAA is the highest level of play in Minor League Baseball in the United States and Mexico. Before 2008, Triple-A leagues also fielded teams in Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the Triple-A International League (IL) and Pacific Coast League (PCL), with 14 teams in the IL and 16 in the PCL. The MLB-independent Mexican League fields 16 teams. Triple-A teams are typically located in large metropolitan areas that do not have Major League Baseball teams, such as San Antonio; Austin; Columbus; and Indianapolis.

Interleague play between the International League and Pacific Coast League occurs twice each season. In July, each league's All-Star team competes in the Triple-A All-Star Game. In September each league's regular season champions play each other in the Triple-A National Championship Game to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball.

The Triple-A classification was created before the 1946 season. Prior to then, the top level of the minors had been designated as Double-A since 1912. The modern Double-A classification also dates to 1946, when the former Class A1 level was renamed.

Wilbert Robinson

Wilbert Robinson (June 29, 1863 – August 8, 1934), nicknamed "Uncle Robbie", was an American catcher, coach and manager in Major League Baseball. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.

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