I will be providing a weekly column this season, recapping the week in the Yankees’ farm system. The column will include standings, schedules, a system “player of the week,” team recaps, roster movement, and scouting reports. I will be watching 2-3 games per week and, technology willing, provide highlights on my Twitter feed during those games and in this column. Who doesn’t want to see some Martian home runs? Speaking of The Martian:
Major changes to the minors
The year 2020 brought changes to virtually everyone, including the minor league baseball system (MiLB). The result is a lost season for nearly all prospects and communities lost teams to create a MiLB landscape far different than it was in 2019. What’s in store for May 2021 when the minor league seasons kick-off?
The “Astros’ Plan” obliterates the MiLB structure. As a result, legendary leagues such as the 80-year-old NY-Penn, where I saw Doc Gooden, Don Mattingly, John Elway, and Larry Walker are gone. When I was 18, I even came close to a fistfight with Oneonta Yankee Pat Kelly (a story for a different day) after a game! Leagues with memorable and quaint names (yes, that is sarcasm!) such as “Triple-A East” and “Double A South” take their spots. However, time marches on and does not stop for nostalgia and griping, as MLB is a business and they want to cut costs and have more control over their affiliates. The MLB “Professional Development League (PDL)” is now the governing entity.
Changes to the Yankees’ system
The plan reduced Yankees’ minor league affiliates from 9 to 6. Five US-based teams and the Dominican Summer League Yankees remain. They are:
AAA: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre remains, playing in the AAA East League, Midwest Division
AA: Somerset Patriots of the Northeast League will play in Bridgewater Township, NJ and replace the Trenton Thunder
A+: Hudson Falls Renegades of the High A East League, will play in Fishkill, NY, and replace the Staten Island Yankees and short-season A baseball
A: Tampa Tarpons go from High A to Low A in the Southeast League, and will play at George M. Steinbrenner Field
Rookie League: The changes chopped the Pulaski Yankees and the entire Rookie League
GCL: Remains the same, continuing to play at the Yankees Player Development Complex near George M. Steinbrenner Field