So, Minor League Baseball has officially been cancelled for the rest of 2020.
Okay, anger, blame, name-calling, and depression aside….what now?
For The Players
Obviously, a few top prospects of teams will be in the 60-Man Player Pool, so they’ll be kept busy there. There won’t be any game unless they make the majors, but they’ll work out with the teams at their alternate sites. The Giants have three top prospects in their pool in Joey Bart, Marco Luciano, and Heliot Ramos. And, probably, eventually, Hunter Bishop if he can get clear of COVID-19. Maybe a couple of others might make the pool later.
Unfortunately, being in the pool means these top prospects are going into a black hole from which no scouts or reporters can see them, and no video will be taken. All info will be secondhand.
So…that leaves about 200 other minor league players. What about them?
Earlier this week, it came out that prospects could go play in the independent leagues, as long as it was their idea, and if the team approves. There’s no knowledge of whether the Giants will approve of any players doing such a thing, if the players even want to.
Independent leagues are difficult to talk about in terms of development. There’s a lot of leagues out there, and they are already hard to equate to various levels of the minors. It will get harder as some leagues stop playing, and those players matriculate. On top of that, even regular stats are hard to collect, much less splits or advanced stats. But if any Giants find their way there, I’ll do my best to collect them and report how they are doing in a weekly Prospect Round-Up again.
In the meantime, others will be working out. And as anything comes out from them, I’ll collect those as I find it as well.
For The Teams
Okay, this is going to be bloody. Sorry.
It’s pretty much a sure thing that the minor leagues will lose the Short-A level next season. There’s no one left to fight.
So a big part of the next three months…the next nine…will be how the minor leagues are going to change, and it starts with which teams will survive and which ones won’t.
First of all, you don’t know what you think you know. That list of 42 teams to be cut? Don’t trust it too much. Before 2020 started, the list was up for grabs, if teams could find reasons not to be de-affiliated, they could have been taken off the list and someone else would get put on.
Now, in the age of Coronavirus, it’s all out the window. A lot of teams were already surviving on the margins.
There is a good chance that some of the hard choices about what teams will be unaffiliated will be made because some teams are going to go bankrupt. That hurts to type, but it is very real.
Something else will adjust the list, and that is Major League teams buying up some of the minor league teams that are failing. It’s been an open secret, reported on by Baseball America, that the Major League owners wanted a piece of minor league teams. Several had invested in minor league teams over the last two decades, but you’ll see a lot more over the next few months. And of course, any team bought up by a Major League investor is a sure thing to stay around.
There will also be other changes, notably realignments. There might be new leagues, like a third Triple-A league or splitting up some of the east coast leagues like the South Atlantic and the Carolina League. There will also be realigning, such as the reports that Fresno will move back into the California League. All that will come later in the season, since realignment can’t be known until you know what teams will survive. That could have some serious effects on the Giants, but again, we’ll follow all the moves.
It could be complicated and hard to keep up with. I’ll try to follow the moves across all of baseball, not just the Giants-related ones. Chances are things will change one way and then another over the next few months.
For The Future
None of us know what baseball is going to look like in the future. And we don’t know how the team will look either. This 60-game season gives the Giants a little bit of a dark horse chance at chasing the playoffs this year.
But there’s also a need to look at the team for the future. Some fans are pulling for just throwing the prospects into the fire in the Majors this year, to develop them. But with players who are nearly ready (like Bart) and some who are far off (Luciano), the answer has to be more staggered. And especially if the Giants want a core of players who stick around for a long time, this matters.
If Luciano debuted this season, he’d be a free agent at about 25, right as he’s in his physical prime. The Giants will not want him to be able to leave that early, for sure, especially if his first couple of years feature him struggling as he “develops”.
And if you want that core around him to build as well, rushing Ramos, Bishop, Matos, and others will shorten the time the Giants will have with all of them.
So we’ll keep an eye on how the players are used, and what the core of the future will look like. But don’t expect a big rush, not this season.
So…that’s what we’re looking at for 2020. I hope we’ll see you all on this ride, whatever the destination is.