On Friday, Major League Baseball announced that all 120 minor league clubs that had been invited to be affiliates in the new minor league baseball had signed their Professional Development League contracts, and announced the new structure for minor league baseball starting in 2021.

Every MLB team will have four full-season affiliates, with teams in the two complex league levels (The Arizona League and Gulf Coast League in the U.S., and in the Dominican Summer League).

Because MLB has broken away from the previous independent organization known as Minor League Baseball, the league names that teams had been in, many of which date back to before minor league systems were formalized, are not being used.  Those trademarks were not given to MLB.  Instead, the leagues have very dry names, despite many of the leagues corresponding to those that existed before 2021.

For instance, Triple-A used to be comprised of two leagues, the Pacific Coast League and the International League.  They will now be known as Triple-A West and Triple-A East.  

It’s unknown if MLB will try to claim the trademarks of the older leagues in the future.  The names are considered placeholders for at least this year.  In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations Morgan Sword said “We haven’t yet made any decisions on what to do with the league names.”  They plan to work with minor league owners about the best course of action.

The San Francisco Giants affiliates remain mostly the same.  The Sacramento River Cats will continue to be their Triple-A affiliate, playing in the West Division of Triple-A West.  The Richmond Flying Squirrels, who represent the farthest affiliate from a parent club in all the minors (2865 miles away), will play in the Southwest Division of Double-A Northeast.  The new affiliate is the Eugene Emeralds, who will play in High-A West, a league with only six teams, so there will be no divisions.  The San Jose Giants shift levels (along with the rest of the former California League) and will be in the North Division of Low-A West. 

The Giants will also have two teams in the Arizona League and, for the first time, two teams in the Dominican Summer League.  The Giants had planned to have two leagues there in 2020 before that season was cancelled.

There are some quirks in the new leagues and realignments.  Triple-A used to have teams split fairly evenly between the two leagues.  Now 10 teams will be in Triple-A West, and 20 teams in Triple-A East.  The latter league will have three divisions, two of seven teams and one with six.  The Low-A East will have 12 teams, also divided into three divisions.

In High-A, the new High-A East league, which does not have an direct predecessor league, have five teams in North Division, in the Maryland, New Jersey, and New York area, and seven teams in the South Division, playing across the Carolinas to Kentucky and north Georgia.  It’s not yet clear how the imbalance of teams will play out in the schedule.

As part of the new PDL, MLB announced that there will be higher standards for facilities and working conditions across the minors, which will be upgraded, although Baseball America has indicated the onus of those costs will be on minor league teams.  MLB also touted less in-season travel, and the relocation of Triple-A clubs to have affiliates closers to their parents.  MLB says that on average, those affiliates will be over 200 miles closer to their parent clubs.  MLB brought in two former independent clubs, the St. Paul Saints (for Minnesota) and the Sugar Land Skeeters (for Houston) to help facilitate that, and the number is likely helped a lot by the Nationals going from being affiliated with the Fresno Grizzlies to the Rochester (N.Y.) Red Wings.

MLB also touted the salary increases for minor leaguers that they will receive in 2021, as had been previously announced.

There will be no playoffs in 2021, as the leagues will continue to be impacted in unknown ways by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  By devoting the time usually spent in the playoffs to regular season play later in the year than normal, it will give all minor league teams more games to make money on.

The league structures are listed below.


Triple-A East

Midwest Division
Columbus Clippers (Indians)
Indianapolis Indians (Pirates)
Iowa Cubs (Cubs)
Louisville Bats (Reds)
Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals)
St. Paul Saints (Twins)
Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers)

Northeast Division
Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays)
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies)
Rochester Red Wings (Nationals)
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Yankees)
Syracuse Mets (Mets)
Worcester Red Sox (Red Sox)

Southeast Division
Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
Durham Bulls (Rays)
Gwinnett Stripers (Braves)
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Marlins)
Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals)
Nashville Sounds (Brewers)
Norfolk Tides (Orioles)

Triple-A West

East Division
Albuquerque Isotopes (Rockies)
El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres)
Oklahoma City Dodgers (Dodgers)
Round Rock Express (Rangers)
Sugar Land Skeeters (Astros)

West Division
Las Vegas Aviators (A’s)
Reno Aces (D-backs)
Sacramento River (Giants)
Salt Lake Bees (Angels)
Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners)


Double-A Central

North Division
Arkansas Travelers (Mariners)
Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals)
Springfield Cardinals (Cardinals)
Tulsa Drillers (Dodgers)
Wichita Wind Surge (Twins)

South Division
Amarillo Sod Poodles (D-backs)
Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros)
Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers)
Midland RockHounds (A’s)
San Antonio Missions (Padres)

Double-A Northeast

Northeast Division
Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets)
Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies)
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays)
Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox)
Reading Fightin Phils (Phillies)
Somerset Patriots (Yankees)

Southwest Division
Akron RubberDucks (Indians)
Altoona Curve (Pirates)
Bowie Baysox (Orioles)
Erie SeaWolves (Tigers)
Harrisburg Senators (Nationals)
Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants)

Double-A South

North Division
Birmingham Barons (White Sox)
Chattanooga Lookouts (Reds)
Rocket City Trash Pandas (Angels)
Tennessee Smokies (Cubs)

South Division
Biloxi Shuckers (Brewers)
Mississippi Braves (Braves)
Montgomery Biscuits (Rays)
Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Marlins)


High-A Central

East Division
Dayton Dragons (Reds)
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)
Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers)
Lake Country Captains (Indians)
Lansing Lugnuts (A’s)
West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers)

West Division
Beloit Snappers (Marlins)
Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins)
Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals)
Quad Cities River Bandits (Royals)
South Bend Cubs (Cubs)
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Brewers)

High-A East

North Division
Aberdeen IronBirds (Orioles)
Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets)
Hudson Valley Renegades (Yankees)
Jersey Shore BlueClaws (Phillies)
Wilmington Blue Rocks (Nats)

South Division
Asheville Tourists (Astros)
Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays)
Greensboro Grasshoppers (Pirates)
Greenville Drive (Red Sox)
Hickory Crawdads (Rangers)
Rome Braves (Braves)
Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox)

High-A West

Eugene Emeralds (Giants)
Everett AquaSox (Mariners)
Hillsboro Hops (D-backs)
Spokane Indians (Rockies)
Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels)
Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays)


Low-A East

Central Division
Carolina Mudcats (Brewers)
Down East Wood Ducks (Rangers)
Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Astros)
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (White Sox)

North Division
Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles)
Fredericksburg Nationals (Nationals)
Lynchburg Hillcats (Indians)
Salem Red Sox (Red Sox)

South Division
Augusta GreenJackets (Braves)
Charleston RiverDogs (Rays)
Columbia Fireflies (Royals)
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Cubs)

Low-A Southeast

East Division
Daytona Tortugas (Reds)
Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins)
Palm Beach Cardinals (Cardinals)
St. Lucie Mets (Mets)

West Division
Bradenton Marauders (Pirates)
Clearwater Threshers (Phillies)
Dunedin Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (Twins)
Lakeland Flying Tigers (Tigers)
Tampa Tarpons (Yankees)

Low-A West

North Division
Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies)
Modesto Nuts (Mariners)
San Jose Giants (Giants)
Stockton Ports (A’s)

South Division
Inland Empire 66ers (Angels)
Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres)
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers)
Visalia Rawhide (D-backs)