Mike McCann / Minor Leagues
POSSIBLE CHANGES TO MINOR LEAGUES
By Mike McCann
There is a chance there there will be some significant changes in the minor leagues sometime soon. It doesn't look like this will happen for 2006, as originally speculated, but it will probably occur sometime in the future. The changes include moving the date of the draft, eliminating the Arizona and Gulf Coast Leagues and reorganizing the short season leagues. Negotiations for the Collective Bargaining Agreement will occur in 2007, and these items will probably be discussed although the outcome may be different.
Currently, the entry draft occurs on the first Tuesday in June, but this may be moved to a date later in the month. This would mean that players would probably begin play in instructional leagues rather than being assigned to the short season leagues. With this date shift, the starting dates of the short season leagues would probably be moved from the end of June to the beginning of June. Since leagues have already set their 2006 schedules, it would be tough to make a change for next year.
In order to save money, the Arizona and Gulf Coast Leagues could be eliminated. These leagues were created to allow the players to be developed during the daytime hours without the distraction of fans or travel. The instructional leagues would probably be modified if this were to occur.
This may also mean that the Appalachian League would become a co-op league where three major league affiliates would send players to one team. I think that this would likely lead to the demise of the Appalachian League since teams wouldn't be very interested to send 8-10 players to play in this league.
The Pioneer League would probably be elevated to a Short Season A league like the NY-Penn and Northwest Leagues. This wouldn't be too difficult to do for 2006, although things wouldn't fit together perfectly. Arizona and Colorado would have two affiliates and Atlanta and Minnesota wouldn't have any, so they would need to switch two affiliations. Since many Player Development Contracts expire after the 2006 season anyway, this would only be a problem for 2006.
Below is a list of how things would line up right now.
Anaheim - Orem (Pio)
Arizona - Yakima (NW), Missoula (Pio)
Atlanta - None
Baltimore - Aberdeen (NYP)
Boston - Lowell (NYP)
Chicago Cubs - Boise (NW)
Chicago White Sox - Great Falls (Pio)
Cincinnati - Billings (Pio)
Cleveland - Mahoning Valley (NYP)
Colorado - Tri-City (NW), Casper (Pio)
Detroit - Oneonta (NYP)
Florida - Jamestown (NYP)
Houston - Tri-City (NYP)
Kansas City - Idaho Falls (Pio)
Los Angeles - Ogden (Pio)
Milwaukee - Helena (Pio)
Minnesota - None
NY Mets - Brooklyn (NYP)
NY Yankees - Staten Island (NYP)
Oakland - Vancouver (NW)
Philadelphia - Batavia (NYP)
Pittsburgh - Williamsport (NYP)
St. Louis - State College (NYP)
San Diego - Eugene (NW)
San Francisco - Salem-Keizer (NW)
Seattle - Everett (NW)
Tampa Bay - Hudson Valley (NYP)
Texas - Spokane (NW)
Toronto - Auburn (NYP)
Washington - Vermont ((NYP)
Overall, I think that it is unfortunate that teams would be eliminated, but
at the same time, I can't say I'm surprised. I have been thinking for
a while that the minor leagues would adjust themselves to have the exact
same number of teams affiliated with a major league team. Even though
this probably won't happen next year, expect something similar some time
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