Some details of Major League Baseball's takeover of Minor League Baseball are beginning to emerge.

sweeping changes to Class A leagues, unresolved transitions for the Pioneer and NY-Penn Leagues, and plenty of new affiliations—but still no final list of the 120 teams comprising the future of Minor League Baseball.

In some ways, there’s been less change than many pundits predicted, and most of the discussed league realignments are focused on the Class A leagues, driven by a variety of factors.

Here’s what we’re looking at today in terms of Class A alignments:

California League (8 teams)
Florida State League (10 teams)
Sally League (12 teams)

Midwest League
Northwest League
Carolina League
New Mid-Atlantic League

The California League would remain at eight teams, while the Florida State League would cut back to 10 teams and the Sally League to 12 teams. It’s less clear how the new High-A circuits would be arranged, save a cutback to the Northwest League to six teams, and there may be teams moving between the Low-A Sally League and the High-A Carolina League and a new Mid-Atlantic League. In particular, the Carolina League may end up being a real Carolina League.

Why move the Cal League to Low A from High A? Purely to make the numbers across all of Minor League Baseball. There’s only room for six teams when all the other High-A slots are filled, so the decision was made to shift the Northwest League—which will be filled by affiliates of West Coast MLB teams—to High A. This is also the rationale for moving the Midwest League to High A and the Florida State League to Low A.

We will also see some gymnastics in the High-A level, partly to address travel and partly to address existing ownership situations and affiliations. Some teams, like the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles, want to maintain their existing affiliation structures; the White Sox, in fact, will likely see no changes to its full-season affiliates.

There should be less change on the Triple-A and Double-A fronts. Three Triple-A teams—San Antonio, Fresno and Wichita—have been designated to move from Triple-A to Double-A’s Texas League or (in the case of Fresno) to what will be the Low-A Cal League. Taking their place: St. Paul, where the Minnesota Twins could affiliate with the St. Paul Saints; Sugar Land and Jacksonville, which will become the Miami Marlins’ top affiliate. Miami is one of the winners in the realignment, with a Triple-A affiliate just up the coast and the addition of Pensacola as a Double-A affiliate. Texas and Houston are also winners, with league alignments designed to protect their investments in High-A and Low-A markets.

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