Minor League Baseball is about to undergo a big structural change, from top to bottom. What does this mean for the Pittsburgh Pirates?
If you have listened to our Podcast in the past, then you may have heard us discussing that Minor League Baseball will be undergoing some serious changes to their structure. First and foremost, it appears that Major League Baseball will be taking complete control of the MiLB. Apparently, Commissioner Rob Manfred wants to leave an imprint on the game by unifying baseball, something he is calling “One Baseball”. What could this mean for the Pittsburgh Pirates and other teams?
One of the major steps in this process has been to eliminate some minor league levels. The goal is to streamline the Minor League process, which will help get the younger and sometimes more talented players to the big leagues. Also, this will allow teams to focus more on their players.
Over the last decade, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had anywhere from seven-to-nine minor league teams, including three-to-five Short-Season A teams. Most recently, this has included the West Virginia Black Bears, Bristol Pirates, and two Summer League teams (normally for the youngest prospects). Most of the Short-Season teams are being eliminated or will see their teams be converted to highly competitive college summer leagues.
This will not be the case for all the teams, however, as some teams may see their affiliates in the upper minors change as well. The League is pushing to get more consistency in terms of location with team’s upper minors. Some leaks have already come out about team’s affiliates. Apparently, at least two of the Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate will go on unchanged. Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic tweeted:
The Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League Affiliates Dates
Triple-A Indianapolis(2005) Double-A Altoona (1999)
High-A Bradenton (2010) Low-A Greensboro 2018
When dealing with so many affiliates, it is hard for teams to not have their resources spread out too much. Teams are not able to focus their best resources on their primary affiliates per se. Even a Front Office guy like Ben Cherington would have a difficult time being able to keep track of all of those affiliates. Now that is why there are other positions, but the change will allow more prominent people to be more hands on.
The good news is that the Bucs will keep Bradenton the same. It was very unlikely that would have changed being it is basically the Bucs second home. The key here is that it will remain the High-A affiliate and not switch. The same can be said for Greensboro. The interesting part is that Cherington omitted Indianapolis and Altoona. If I had to guess, Indianapolis will not be the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates going forward. It could be that Altoona will become the Triple-A site (proximity) and a new Double-A affiliate will be announced.