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Ballpark Digest

It’s crunch time in the takeover of MiLB by MLB, with sweeping changes to Class A leagues, unresolved transitions for the Pioneer and NY-Penn Leagues, and plenty of new affiliations—but still no final list of the 120 teams comprising the future of Minor League Baseball.

It’s never been a secret that MLB’s takeover of Minor League Baseball would involve plenty of change. In some ways, there’s been less change than many pundits predicted, and most of the discussed league realignments are focused on the Class A leagues, driven by a variety of factors. After talking on background with several MiLB owners and MiLB/MLB C suite execs about what they’re expecting and been told, we can pass along many details about the upcoming 2021 season and beyond. Nothing is finalized, of course, and changes can be made in a final agreement.

There should be less change on the Triple-A and Double-A fronts. Three Triple-A teams—San Antonio, Fresno and Wichita—have been designated to move from Triple-A to Double-A’s Texas League or (in the case of Fresno) to what will be the Low-A Cal League. Taking their place: St. Paul, where the Minnesota Twins will take over the St. Paul Saints; Sugar Land and Jacksonville, which will become the Miami Marlins’ top affiliate. Miami is one of the winners in the realignment, with a Triple-A affiliate just up the coast and the addition of Pensacola as a Double-A affiliate. Texas and Houston are also winners, with league alignments designed to protect their investments in High-A and Low-A markets.

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