Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Minor Speculation Has Grizzlies Moving to Cal League. Will Attendance Take a Hit?
gvw_david_taub
By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 3 years ago on
November 10, 2020

Share

There will be Fresno Grizzlies baseball in 2021. If there is minor league baseball.

The latter may be conditional on the course coronavirus pandemic and the minors return next season after being wiped out in 2020.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

David Taub

Opinion

Nothing has been determined in about the structure Minor League Baseball and what type of team the Grizzlies will field.

Grizzlies president and partial owner Derek Franks says there is nothing to comment on as of yet, as he is still waiting to see what baseball’s final plan is.

The growing speculation from publication Ballpark Digest and others is that the Grizzlies will move from the Triple-A Pacific Coast League to the California League.

The Cal League will then shift from the High-A level to Low-A, all part of the dramatic restructuring of the minors and Major League Baseball.

Losing a Level

Through last season, MLB and Minor League Baseball were two distinct organizations, despite the strong bonds for decades that tied them together, known as the Professional Baseball Agreement.

The PBA expired at the end of last season. The normal “affiliation dance,” which the Grizzlies were working through, came to a halt. Fresno’s two-year Player Development Contract with the Washington Nationals expired at the end of the season, also.

No new deal has been made, and it is likely the Majors will take over the minors outright. That would also mean contracting the minor leagues by 40 teams, down to 120 overall.

The minors have operated at seven different levels across 17 leagues, generally based on experience and expectations of the baseball prospect. Triple-A is the highest level, followed by Double-A, High-A, Low-A, Short-season A and Rookie ball — at an advanced and beginner level.

There are also “independent” leagues, not affiliated officially with MLB but still a source of future players.

Ballpark Digest has reported that the advanced Rookie leagues — Appalachian and Pioneer — will be phased out, along with most of its teams. The short-season New York-Penn League is also likely out.

The Northwest League will lose two of its eight teams, but be promoted to High-A.

The shifting of Class-A leagues from High to Low and Low to High to make the number of affiliates match the number of MLB teams. Each MLB franchise would have one minor league team at the remaining four levels.

Two other Triple-A teams, San Antonio and Wichita — both teams that were set to debut at that level in 2020 — are said to move to the Double-A Texas League, according to Ballpark Digest.

Jacksonville, Florida, promoted from Double-A, and independent teams Sugar Land, Texas and Saint Paul would become new Triple-A level teams.

A New Cal League

Those changes would mean the demotion of the eight-team Cal League to Low-A. The Cal League’s Lancaster franchise is one of the reported 40 set to be contracted. Fresno would take its place.

“Amicable negotiations between Major and Minor League negotiating committees are continuing, and nothing definitive has been agreed upon or decided in these areas,” Cal League president Charlie Blaney said in an email.

Of the seven remaining Cal League teams, two are owned in part by the parent MLB club: San Jose (San Francisco Giants) and Modesto (Seattle Mariners).

There wouldn’t be much motivation for the remaining teams to change affiliation, based on geography or history. Since Lancaster was affiliated with the Colorado Rockies, it makes sense the big club would partner with Fresno in the new Cal League.

MLB had no official update when asked. The Rockies did not respond for a comment.

Moving from Triple-A to Low-A is more than a step down the ladder. Rarely does a Low A player jump directly to the Big Leagues. Also, players generally have just one year experience, having just been drafted that season or the prior year.

Triple-A had always been the weigh station for top prospects headed to the Majors, or veterans hanging on for one more shot.

If there is a benefit, it would be likely that injured Major League players would start their rehabilitation assignments in the Cal League, based on the teams’ proximity to Major League club.

Another sliver lining: no more airplane travel. The Cal League is a bus league, and Fresno would trade in early morning flights to Tacoma and Salt Lake for two-hour or less bus rides to Modesto, Stockton and Visalia.

Would Change Affect Attendance?

Even with a new league, new parent club and new level of play, the Grizzlies approach to drawing fans shouldn’t change.

The last per game year-to-year increase in attendance was from 2016 to 2017 (a bump of 19 fans per game on average). The team has slid from 6,781 fans per game in 2014, the last year it was a Giants affiliate, to 5,759 per game in 2019.

Not winning a Triple-A championship (2015) or being the top-level club for World Series winners Houston (2017) or Washington (2019) mattered when it came to more fans showing up at Chukchansi Park.

No matter who playing on the field or at what quality, Parker T. Bear will still be acting goofy entertaining fans. There will still be the promotions, between inning games, and, hopefully, the Taco Truck Throwdown.

Yankees First Domino to Fall

No one is talking officially, but the New York Yankees announced its affiliate lineup for 2021, the first domino to fall.

While it will keep its Triple-A team as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the International League, it is changing at the lower levels.

It is dumping Double-A Trenton (Eastern League) for Somerset, a member of the independent Atlantic League, moving to affiliated baseball.

For High-A, the Yankees picked Hudson Valley — most recently a New York-Penn short-season affiliate of Tampa Bay. The exact league Hudson Valley will play in is not determined, but likely the proposed Mid-Atlantic League.

Which means the Yankees relationship with current High-A team, Tampa in the Florida State League, will remain but at the Low-A level. Like the Cal League, the FSL is slated to move to Low-A as well.

A Partial Look at the Shuffle

A look at how the Minor League shuffle could affect Triple-A and the Cal League, based on information from Ballpark Digest:

Pacific Coast League 2020 2021
Albuquerque Isotopes Colorado Colorado
El Paso Chihuahuas San Diego San Diego
Fresno Grizzlies Washington To Low-A Cal League
Iowa Cubs Chicago Cubs Chicago Cubs
Las Vegas 51s Oakland Oakland
Memphis Redbirds St. Louis St. Louis
Nashville Sounds Texas Texas
Oklahoma City Dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers
Omaha Storm Chasers Kansas City Kansas City
Reno Aces Arizona Arizona
Round Rock Express Houston Houston or Milwaukee
Sacramento River Cats San Francisco San Francisco
Salt Lake Bees Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Angels
San Antonio Missions Milwaukee To AA Texas League
Tacoma Rainiers Seattle Seattle
Wichita Wind Surge Miami To AA Texas League
Jacksonville (FL) Jumbo Shrimp From AA Southern League Miami
Saint Paul Saints From independent American Association Minnesota
Sugar Land (TX) Skeeters From independent Atlantic League Houston or Milwaukee

 

International League 2020 2021
Buffalo Bisons Toronto Toronto
Charlotte Knights Chicago White Sox Chicago White Sox
Columbus Clippers Cleveland Cleveland
Durham Bulls Tampa Bay Tampa Bay
Gwinnett Stripers Atlanta Atlanta
Indianapolis Indians Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
Lehigh Valley IronPigs Philadelphia Philadelphia
Louisville Bats Cincinnati Cincinnati
Norfolk Tides Baltimore Baltimore
Rochester Red Wings Minnesota Washington
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders New York Yankees New York Yankees
Syracuse Mets New York Mets New York Mets
Toledo Mud Hens Detroit Detroit
Worcester Red Sox Boston Boston

Note: At least one team in each league would have to trade place to balance out geographically.

California League

From High-A to Low-A

2020 2021
Inland Empire 66s Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Angels
Lake Elsinore Storm San Diego San Diego
Lancaster JetHawks Colorado contracted
Modesto Nuts Seattle Seattle
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Los Angeles Dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers
San Jose Giants San Francisco San Francisco
Stockton Ports Oakland Oakland
Visalia Rawhide Arizona Arizona
Fresno Grizzlies From AAA Pacific Coast League Colorado

DON'T MISS

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

DON'T MISS

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

DON'T MISS

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

DON'T MISS

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

DON'T MISS

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

DON'T MISS

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

DON'T MISS

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

DON'T MISS

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

DON'T MISS

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

DON'T MISS

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

UP NEXT

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

UP NEXT

From Tragedy to Triumph: The Land Before Time Litter’s Journey

UP NEXT

Several Writers Decline Recognition From PEN America in Protest Over Its Israel-Hamas War Stance

UP NEXT

US Consumer Sentiment Falls Slightly as Outlook for Inflation Worsens

UP NEXT

Tennessee Lawmakers Send Bill to Ban First-Cousin Marriages to Governor

UP NEXT

Instagram Blurs Nude Messages to Protect Teens, Fight Sexual Extortion

UP NEXT

Ohtani’s Ex-Interpreter Charged With Stealing $16M in Betting Case

UP NEXT

Fresno Monopoly is Coming. You Have a Chance to Make It Your Own.

UP NEXT

Harvard Again Requiring Standardized Test Scores for Those Seeking Admission

UP NEXT

After Fong Ruling, a ‘Bitter Pill to Swallow’ for US Senate Losers Katie Porter & Barbara Lee?

David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

23 hours ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

23 hours ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

1 day ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

1 day ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

2 days ago

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

2 days ago

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

2 days ago

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

2 days ago

Israeli Settlers Rampage Through a West Bank Village, Killing 1 Palestinian and Wounding 25

2 days ago

US Intelligence Finding Shows China Surging Equipment Sales to Russia to Help War Effort in Ukraine

2 days ago

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and his national security team monitored Iran’s aerial attack against Israel on Saturday as U.S. forces joi...

8 hours ago

8 hours ago

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

21 hours ago

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

22 hours ago

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

23 hours ago

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

23 hours ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

1 day ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

1 day ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

2 days ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend