Northwest Arkansas Naturals extend PDC with Royals to 2022

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals have extended their player development contract with the Royals to 2022.  The Naturals have been a Royals affiliate since their inception in 2008 after moving from Wichita.

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Connecticut Tigers Change Name to Norwich Sea Unicorns

The Connecticut Tigers have changed their name to the Norwich Sea Unicorns.  In this case, I’m glad that they went away from their old name.  I didn’t think that it made much sense for the team to represent the entire state of Connecticut and I thought that they would have wanted an identity separate from the Tigers.  They have had that name since they relocated from Oneonta in 2010.  Although you start to wonder if they are thinking about leaving the Tigers after 2020, assuming the team doesn’t get contracted after the season.

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Fort Myers Miracle Change Name to Mighty Mussels

The Fort Myers Miracle have changed their name to the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels.  This seems to follow the recent trend of names where they need to be two words.  And while they did inherit the name from the Miami team that relocated in 1992, it is a little disappointing to see the team change their name after almost 30 years.

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2021 Worcester team to be called Red Sox

When Pawtucket moves to Worcester for the 2021 season, the team will be known as the Worcester Red Sox.  They decided to maintain the Red Sox name that Pawtucket used and plan to use the nickname Woo Sox.  Doesn’t have the same ring to it as Paw Sox, but it keeps the current theme.

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List of 42 Minor League Teams that could be eliminated

Ballpark Digest posted an article that provides a list of minor league teams that could be eliminated under Major League Baseball’s proposal to contract Minor League Baseball to 120 teams.  There is also talk about the potential political ramifications if this were to occur because many communities aren’t happy about potentially losing an affiliated minor league team from their stadium that was built with some public funding.

So according to this Minor League Baseball would look something like this:

International League (AAA)
Buffalo Bisons
Charlotte Knights
Columbus Clippers
Durham Bulls
Gwinnett Stripers
Indianapolis Indians
Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Louisville Bats
Norfolk Tides
Worcester (as Pawtucket is moving in 2020)
Rochester Red Wings
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Syracuse Mets
Toledo Mud Hens

Pacific Coast League (AAA)
Albuquerque Isotopes
El Paso Chihuahuas
Fresno Grizzlies – replaced by St. Paul
Iowa Cubs
Las Vegas Aviators
Memphis Redbirds
Nashville Sounds
Oklahoma City Dodgers
Omaha Storm Chasers
Reno Aces
Round Rock Express
Sacramento River Cats
Salt Lake Bees
San Antonio Missions
Tacoma Rainiers
Wichita Wind Surge (2019 New Orleans Baby Cakes)

Eastern League (AA)
Akron RubberDucks
Altoona Curve
Binghamton Rumble Ponies
Bowie Baysox
Erie SeaWolves
Harrisburg Senators
Hartford Yard Goats
New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Portland Sea Dogs
Reading Fightin Phils
Richmond Flying Squirrels
Trenton Thunder
Brooklyn Cyclones

Southern League (AA)
Biloxi Shuckers
Birmingham Barons
Chattanooga Lookouts
Jackson Generals
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
Mississippi Braves
Montgomery Biscuits
Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Rocket City Trash Pandas (2019 Mobile BayBears)
Tennessee Smokies

Texas League (AA)
Amarillo Sod Poodles
Arkansas Travelers
Corpus Christi Hooks
Frisco RoughRiders
Midland RockHounds
Northwest Arkansas Naturals
Springfield Cardinals
Tulsa Drillers

California League (A – Advanced)
Lake Elsinore Storm
Lancaster JetHawks – replaced by Fresno Grizzlies
Modesto Nuts
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
San Bernardino Inland Empire 66ers
San Jose Giants
Stockton Ports
Visalia Rawhide

Carolina League (A – Advanced)
Carolina Mudcats
Down East Wood Ducks
Fayetteville Woodpeckers
Frederick Keys
Fredericksburg Nationals (2019 Potomac Nationals)
Lynchburg Hillcats
Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Salem Red Sox
Wilmington Blue Rocks
Winston-Salem Dash

Florida State League (A – Advanced)
Bradenton Marauders
Charlotte Stone Crabs
Clearwater Threshers
Daytona Tortugas
Dunedin Blue Jays
TBD (2019 Florida Fire Frogs)
Fort Myers Miracle
Jupiter Hammerheads
Lakeland Flying Tigers
Palm Beach Cardinals
St. Lucie Mets
Tampa Tarpons

Midwest League (A)
Beloit Snappers
Bowling Green Hot Rods – Move to another league
Burlington Bees
Cedar Rapids Kernels
Clinton Lumber Kings
Dayton Dragons
Fort Wayne TinCaps
Great Lakes Loons
Kane County Cougars
Lake County Captains
Lansing Lugnuts
Peoria Chiefs
Quad Cities River Bandits
South Bend Cubs
West Michigan Whitecaps
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

South Atlantic League (A)
Asheville Tourists
Augusta GreenJackets
Charleston Riverdogs
Columbia Fireflies
Delmarva Shorebirds
Greensboro Grasshoppers
Greenville Drive
Hagerstown Suns
Hickory Crawdads
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Lakewood BlueClaws
Lexington Legends
Rome Braves
West Virginia Power

NY-Penn League (A – Short Season)
Aberdeen IronBirds – Move to Class A
Auburn Doubledays
Batavia Muckdogs
Brooklyn Cyclones – Move to Eastern League (AA)
Connecticut Tigers
Hudson Valley Renegades – Move to Class A
Lowell Spinners
Mahoning Valley Scrappers
State College Spikes
Staten Island Yankees
Tri-City ValleyCats – Move to Class A
Vermont Lake Monsters
West Virginia Black Bears – Move to Class A
Williamsport Crosscutters

Northwest League (A – Short Season) Now full season league
Boise Hawks
Eugene Emeralds
Everett AquaSox
Hillsboro Hops
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes
Spokane Indians
Tri-City Dust Devils
Vancouver Canadians

Appalachian League (Rookie – Short Season)
Bluefield Blue Jays
Bristol Pirates
Burlington Royals
Danville Braves
Elizabethton Twins
Greeneville Reds
Johnson City Cardinals
Kingsport Mets
Princeton Rays
Pulaski Yankees – Move to Class A

Pioneer League (Rookie – Short Season)
Billings Mustangs
Grand Junction Rockies
Great Falls Voyagers
Idaho Falls Chukars
Missoula PaddleHeads
Ogden Raptors
Orem Owlz
Rocky Mountain Vibes

And somewhere the Sugar Land team gets added in here.

So you can see that there is some additional shuffling that goes on here, but these are the details so far.

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Wichita team to be called Wind Surge

The new AAA team in Wichita will be called the Wichita Wind Surge.  I think it’s interesting that they decided to stray from a tangible item, similar to the Lake Elsinore Storm.  And in doing some quick internet searches on the term, since I didn’t think that wind surge was all that common, I think I may be correct.  So I’ll keep thinking about the names Storm Surge or Wind Gust instead.

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Missoula Osprey change name to PaddleHeads

The Missoula Osprey have changed their name to the Missoula PaddleHeads.  So it looks like they have moved on from a traditional animal nickname for a bird that is native to the area to a less traditional one for a moose.  This does seem to follow the trend that minor league names are taking with a longer two word (although smashed together) name.

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Kannapolis Intimidators change name to Cannon Ballers

The Kannapolis Intimidators are changing their name to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers.  This goes along with their new stadium opening in 2020.  It does seem to me that we are seeing more team names with two words, which seems unnecessarily long.  But then again, they are always shortened, in this case Ballers, which isn’t so bad of a name.

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Durham Bulls extend PDC with Rays to 2022

The Durham Bulls have extended their player development contract with the Rays to 2022.  The Bulls have been the Rays AAA affiliate since they began in 1998.  This is the first renewal announced after the proposal to eliminate some teams and while I don’t think the Bulls would be significantly impacted, if the PDC structure changes, this extension may become somewhat irrelevant.

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MLB Proposes Eliminating 40 Minor League Teams after 2020 Season

This is the start of negotiations of the Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, but MLB has proposed going to a 120 team minor league system from the current 160 teams.

Some key points worth noting:

The PBA currently expires after the 2020 season and this is the beginning of negotiations, so nothing is definite.  I would be surprised if this ended up being the end result, but I could see some compromise where they end up with 150 teams, as an example.  The 1990 PBA resulted in stricter standards for minor league stadiums, which resulted in some franchises relocating.  MLB is saying now that they are looking to increase facility standards and player salaries, and this would eliminate many players in each organization.

The remaining leagues would be dramatically restructured with teams changing classification levels and leagues changing the number of teams.  This is very interesting because fans are used to seeing play at a certain level in their hometown stadiums and now that team could be playing at a different level with a number of new league members.

The Player Development Contract process will be dramatically reworked to eliminate the two year deals and have longer franchise agreements between the MLB and MiLB teams.

The proposal actually eliminates 42 teams (don’t have any specifics), but they want to add the St. Paul Saints and Sugar Land Skeeters, which are currently in independent leagues, to MiLB.  Some of the short-season teams would become full-season and some full-season teams would be eliminated.

The teams that are eliminated could become part of the Dream League, which would contain non-drafted players and essentially act as an independent league that operates under MLB and MiLB.  But some of the teams may not be able to afford to play in this league.

This would be a radical shift in the structure of minor league baseball and it will be interesting to see how the fans react.  Some municipalities are spending money on their ballparks only to have them lose their affiliation with Major League Baseball.

So this will surely be interesting to see how it plays out.

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