Major League Baseball has standardized its affiliated minor league system. Teams will continue to each have a AAA and a AA affiliate, but now they will each have exactly one A+, A, and domestic Rookie affiliate. In addition, Teams may have one or more foreign Rookie affiliates. In the case of the New York Yankees, the affiliates are:
AA Somerset (NJ) (used to be Trenton)
A+ Hudson Valley (used to be Tampa)
A Tampa (used to be Charleston)
Short-season A GONE (used to be Staten Island)
Domestic Rookie (also a short-season league) also Tampa (used to include this and two other teams)
Foreign Rookie Dominican Summer League Yankees
The scrunching-down of minor leagues includes compactness of regions and turnover of affiliates, in addition to the elimination of the short-season A league and restricting teams to one Domestic Rookie League affiliate.
Major League baseball this year gets underway on April 1. The AAA minors on April 6. The AA and A minors a month later. And, the Rookie league yet later.
Another new wrinkle this year is Independent Minor Leagues that are affiliated with Major League Baseball. This is a developing relationship and nobody quite knows that it means. Three independent minor leagues are formally partnered with Major League Baseball. These are the American Association, Frontier League and Atlantic League.
The business model for these independent leagues is quite different from that of the MLB-affiliated minor leagues. With the affiliated minor leagues, the major league teams pay the salaries. All the minor league team has to do is cover its overhead, travel expenses and such. Not that all of them are able to do that.
With the independent league, salaries and all other expenses have to be covered by the team. In the American Association, salaries are a minimum of $800 per month, and a maximum of $100,000 per year for the entire club. With an average attendance of about 3,000, this can work out if teams are careful.
The Atlantic League is generally considered the best of the independent leagues. Several dozen players have jumped from this league to the MLB at some level, usually AA or AAA. Plus, MLB has pouched two of the teams of the league in its turnover of affiliates.
With spring training games being played, with NCAA baseball under way, with longer and warmer days ahead, it’s time to get out of the house and play ball.