• Steve Potter

12/26/2020 : Minor League Update


The 2021 minor league official league groupings and schedules won’t likely be out till mid to late January however all teams have announced their full season affiliations. There’s a cap of 180 minor league stateside players per organization once the season starts ... that includes the 14 players who earn spots on the 40 man roster but actually are optioned out to play in the minor leagues.


There is a roster limit of 190 minor league players during the off season which includes spring training although I don’t know when the exact date is that rule goes into effect ... it’s likely to be shortly after the first of the year. That roster cap includes free agent players who’ve been extended non-roster invitations to big league Spring Camp after signing minor league contracts ... technically they are added to a minor league roster when they sign. Many have opt out clauses if they don’t make the major league club but there is no exception to only count those players on the roster pending such decision.


The Phillies will need to make at least a few minor league roster adjustments to get to the 190 off season total ... they currently have 194 players ( source : Phuture Phillies web site ) on minor league deals ... that’s excluding the 14 slots on the 40 man roster that will go against the minor league active roster total once the season starts.


After spring training concludes the Phillies will need to adjust the minor league totals even further to get at or below the maximum allowance of 180 player in season limit which includes the 14 slots on the 40 man roster that are optioned to the minor leagues. In effect that means reducing the current minor league state side roster by at least 28 players before the 2021 season starts.


Note that the Dominican Summer League rosters do not count towards the totals ... there are no restrictions imposed in that regard.


I’ve been at the Complex on cutdown days ... it’s a sad time when many young fellas are told their dream of being a big leaguer has taken an unwanted turn.


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The Phillies will field four full season minor league clubs ...


AAA - Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs - Allentown, PA

AA - Reading Fightin’s - Reading, PA

Advanced A - Jersey Shore Blue Claws - Lakewood, NJ

A - Clearwater Threshers - Clearwater, FL


With four full season affiliates an 180 player total would allow for an maximum overflow of approximately 60 players that could be used to field two GCL (Gulf Coast League ) teams but it’s not certain that a formal GCL league will even exist in the 2021 structure. Partner leagues may instead field various team’s affiliated players on their rosters else informal workouts and scrimmages akin to the Dominican “Tricky Leagues” at the complexes may become the norm. TBD


“Some players will have the option to play in a professional partner league, which were formerly deemed independent leagues. Players in those leagues will not get the pay raises affiliated players will receive in 2021.” - Baseball America


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It used to be the norm for top international prospects to come stateside in their first year of play ... that could strategically change with the new structure. Instead of taking a roster spot that counts towards the stateside player limit those players may spend their initial years at the Dominican Academies and play in the DSL where they are exempt from the roster limitations instead ... perhaps for even more than one season.


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General News and Notes regarding the new agreement :


“Minor League player pay will increase. They will play in ballparks with improved lighting, better weight rooms and batting and pitching tunnels. They will be eating nutritious food provided free of charge by their MLB teams. They will be getting dressed in upgraded clubhouses.” - Baseball America


The intent is to improve the quality of life for minor leaguers :


Rookie ball players will see pay increased from $290 to $400 a week.

First-year Class A players will go from $290 a week to $500.

Double-A pay will jump from $350 a week to $600

Triple-A pay will increase to $700 per week instead of $500.


In addition clubhouse dues have been eliminated. Major league teams will be responsible for providing game day meals. Minor league teams will be responsible for providing snacks. Many teams, including the Phillies had already adopted this meal policy before it became mandated by MLB.


“Teams are also expected to secure reasonably-priced housing for 33 players and staff at a hotel or apartment complex within 15 miles of their stadium. While minor league clubs will not be responsible for paying for the in-season housing, they will be responsible for acquiring it and MLB will have the right of approval before the season begins.” - Baseball America. I’m not sure if MLB will pick up the tab for the housing costs.


Lighting at stadiums will be upgraded, all teams will be required to have a minimum 100 foot candles of lighting in the infield and 70 foot candles in the outfield. Those minimums used to only apply to AAA/AA teams. Most stadiums will switch to LED lighting. By comparison the major league standards are minimum 300 foot candles in the infield and 200 foot candles in the outfield.


“Players’ travel should also improve. Teams will be required to use two buses instead of one on road trips. On longer trips, teams will have to use sleeper or luxury buses. And for trips longer than 350 miles, teams will be required to travel by plane unless the travel day is followed by a day off.” - Baseball America


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Editorial Comment :


In my opinion the pay increases, meal allowances and housing considerations are long overdue however the mandate of capping how many players each team can employ seems extraordinary and over the top.


It will eliminate opportunities for players “on the fringe” so to speak as well as coaching and support positions. To limit clubs who are capable and willing to employ more folks just doesn’t seem right ... it’s seemingly a “nickel and dime” approach to offset the added costs of what I’d consider to be nominal pay increases and the other added investments ... just sayin 🤷‍♂️🤦‍♂️.


Also I would think it’s better to train your own players than farm them out to partner leagues and staffs ... that doesn’t make a ton of sense to me.


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Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️ ... I think 😳





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