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A Glimpse Into The Future of Minor League Baseball

I did it. I went forward and now I’m back.

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The Machine Works
Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Zodiac Vodka

Well, I don’t really know how to say this, but I did it. I built a time machine and I saw the future. As many of you know, in addition to being a world renowned astrophysicist, I’m also an internationally acclaimed space engineer. So I did it. I took a 1990 Toyota Corolla and retrofitted it with a flux capacitor I bought using my vast reserves of bitcoin. Wasn’t all that hard actually, if, like me, you have all the PhDs. Just go to the dark web and search 4-chan-redditt-internet and you’ll find all the gear you’ll need. Anyway, I took the machine to May 11th, 2030 and you won’t believe what I found! Check out this blurb from our very own Lone Star Ball:

“This is a night many Rangers fans have been longing for. It’s the much anticipated debut of Texas’ top prospect, Emilio Young. Everyone knows Emilio’s story: the middle son of the former All-Time hit leader for the Rangers, Emilio will make his debut at the ripe age of 20. He’ll be replacing 32 year-old slumping veteran Anderson Tejeda at shortstop. Tejeda, a key cog both on the field and off during Texas’ 2 World Championship seasons, has been plagued by hamstring issues and managed only a .177 average over the first month. Young comes to the big leagues after only 27 games in the minors’ Senior League, but scorched the Junior League last season to the tune of .321/.389/.511. It’s an exciting time for Rangers fans as they welcome the son of a legend and a young man intent on building a legacy of his own.”

OK, so due to a ripple in the black hole space-time continuum, (You wouldn’t understand), I was only able to spend about 15 minutes in the year 2030, but here’s what I learned about the state of the minor leagues. (That’s all I really wanted to know. Not, “has there been a nuclear war”, “how are my kids”, or “am I nuts”? Just tell me about my favorite sport) Apparently, there was a pretty dang big shakeup around 2021-2022. Basically, in addition to the proliferation of profoundly influential data measurement tools, it sounds like the minor league pay-rate quagmire came to a head and forced some issues. I’m not sure if the MLB union squeezed the owners’ hands in CBA negotioations, or if the currently pending lawsuits created the windfall, but there was most definitely some changes made. The good news is, minor leaguers make much more money in 2030; the bad news is, there are wayyyyyy fewer minor leaguers. Seems the owners’ long standing tradition of being comically frugal despite being comically wealthy continued and when they were forced to pay the minor leaguers more money, they just said “Fine. Use fewer minor leaguers.” Really uncool move on their part, but like I said, they’re sports teams owners and that makes them kinda assholes.

So part of the setup in 2030 appears to be a longer, more structured version of Extended Spring Training that eventually just morphs into what we currently know as Fall Instructs. All the young international draft picks (of course there’s an international draft- see my earlier notes about MLB owners) and the players drafted in the 25-round domestic draft all play a bunch of games and have a bunch of practices at the spring training facilities all the way through the month of September. Then the big step: the jump to full season ball. Apparently there’s only 2 levels of full season ball in 2030. There’s the Junior League (Texas’ team is the Frisco RoughRiders) and the Senior League (Texas’ team is the San Antonio Rangers). Think of it as if the Junior League is the combination of low-A and high-A, and the Senior League is AA and AAA. The teams are big: 32 man rosters, and there’s a boatload of pitching changes, but thanks to the elimination of extra-inning games in the minors (not to mention banning the catcher/pitcher conference) the matches are usually done in under 3 hours.

The mega-bummer to the new setup for the minors is “the contraction years”. I’m told, it was flat out ugly. So many small towns and communities, many of whom had loved and supported minor league baseball for nearly a hundred years were robbed of their teams. Sounds like it sucked on a magnanimous level. The Cal League went away, as did much of the Carolina League. Short-season teams were the first to go, and that’s not cool at all. Of course when they started debilitating some of these communities, the elected lawmakers stepped in and there were more than a few congressional meetings and dozens of press conferences with Senators and Governors huffing and puffing about how “Baseball belongs in these communities!” Even President Barbara Bush had no fewer than 4 moments to address the issue publicly. Alas, it appears to have all been for naught, as the owners did what they wanted to anyways.

So it seems the days of 250 minor leaguers are over in 2030. Interestingly enough, one of the benefactors of baseball’s new development setup has been college baseball. The college game seems to have blown up, mostly because if you weren’t one of the 25 kids drafted, and you had eligibility left, you went! I heard stories of college teams taking over some of the abandoned A-ball, AA and even a couple AAA stadiums to accommodate their new and burgeoning fan bases. That seems like a good thing.

Overall, it appears the big league game is as strong as ever. The 32 teams (Yeah. Montreal and Mexico City in 2026) are mulling adding a couple more clubs in 2032 with Charlotte and Vancouver expected to lead the charge. Closers touch 110mph and 500’ homers happen a couple times a week. And sweet mary wait until you see Mike Trout’s WAR. And yeah, of course the Rangers won the World Series. Twice.

So there you have it. I’m currently running some algorithms via SQL//MS-DOS that’ll allow me to stay in the future for longer than 15 minutes. Maybe then I can get some of the less important questions answered. Until my next trip forward: Viva MiLB!

As Always, Enjoy Baseball!

Love Ya!