There are new changes coming to minor league baseball. But with those changes come new questions. With the season canceled, what are the players up to? What will the landscape of minor league baseball look like in 2021?
David Cross, general manager of the Rome Braves, addressed these concerns during a Zoom conference call with the Rome-Seven Hills Rotary Club during its Thursday afternoon meeting.
Cross said most of the players are at home and working out on their own accord.
“They’re not down at our spring training facility working out,” Cross said. “The only players down at our spring training facility I think are any player that’s doing a long-term physical rehab.”
Cross said Rome’s players are keeping in touch with their strength and conditioning coaches to ensure they stay in shape. Cross continued these conversations occur “at least once a week.”
When asked about the idea some ball clubs may move to consolidate their minor-league systems, Cross said he is disappointed about the prospect, he added it is likely coming in some form.
“It does appear that there is going to be some sort of contraction,” Cross said. “Am I happy about it? No because there’s going to be some good people out there working with those teams that are going to be out of a job probably. The answers haven’t come out yet as to what it’s going to look like. We don’t know what our schedule’s going to be able to look like next year because we don’t know how many teams will be here and how many won’t.”
Late last year, Major League Baseball submitted a proposal to reduce the amount of minor-league teams by about 25%. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing and a nixed season resulting in lost jobs and revenue, Cross said one idea being discussed is the elimination of the short season. Cross explained that would mean the end of rookie, advanced rookie and short-season Single-A. The current proposal calls for low Single-A, high Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A.
“I have a feeling if that comes to fruition, then that’s probably going to look like that,” Cross said. “You may have some teams that were Single-A that go away and you may have some short season teams that are really strong that bump up a level to Single-A.”
Cross said he is confident the Rome Braves will continue to be a part of the sports landscape in Floyd County.
“I think we’re fine in Rome, but I just don’t know what the rest of the landscape’s going to look like and where everybody will be,” Cross said. “We’re owned by the Braves. We’re not going to change from the Braves. We’re going to be the Braves, but you’ll probably see some affiliates potentially change as well.”
Cross said like the option season ticket holders are being presented, sponsors have the option to carry over into 2021.
While MLB moves toward restarting with a 60-game season beginning July 23, many questions still remain on the state of minor league baseball. How much influence will the COVID-19 pandemic have on the minors? Changes seem to be in the air and we’ll likely find out more as we approach 2021.