Minor league baseball
Overview
 
Minor league baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball
Professional baseball
Baseball is a team sport which is played by several professional leagues throughout the world. In these leagues, and associated farm teams, players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system....

 leagues in the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 that compete at levels below Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 (MLB) and provide opportunities for player development. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses. Most are members of the umbrella organization known as Minor League Baseball (MiLB), which operates under the Commissioner of Baseball
Commissioner of Baseball
The Commissioner of Baseball is the chief executive of Major League Baseball and its associated minor leagues. Under the direction of the Commissioner, the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts...

 within the scope of organized baseball. Several leagues, known as independent leagues, do not have any official links to Major League Baseball.

Except for the Mexican League, teams in the organized minor leagues are generally independently owned and operated but are directly affiliated with one major league team through a standardized Player Development Contract (PDC).
Encyclopedia
Minor league baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball
Professional baseball
Baseball is a team sport which is played by several professional leagues throughout the world. In these leagues, and associated farm teams, players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system....

 leagues in the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 that compete at levels below Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 (MLB) and provide opportunities for player development. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses. Most are members of the umbrella organization known as Minor League Baseball (MiLB), which operates under the Commissioner of Baseball
Commissioner of Baseball
The Commissioner of Baseball is the chief executive of Major League Baseball and its associated minor leagues. Under the direction of the Commissioner, the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts...

 within the scope of organized baseball. Several leagues, known as independent leagues, do not have any official links to Major League Baseball.

Except for the Mexican League, teams in the organized minor leagues are generally independently owned and operated but are directly affiliated with one major league team through a standardized Player Development Contract (PDC). These leagues also go by the nicknames the "farm system," "farm club," or "farm team(s)" because of a joke passed around by major league players in the 1930s when St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are members of the Central Division in the National League of Major League Baseball. The Cardinals have won eleven World Series championships, the most of any National League team, and second overall only to...

' general manager Branch Rickey
Branch Rickey
Wesley Branch Rickey was an innovative Major League Baseball executive elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967...

 formalized the system, and teams in small towns were "growing players down on the farm like corn."

Major and Minor League teams may enter into a PDC for a two or four year term and may re-affiliate at the expiration of a PDC term, though many relationships are renewed and endure for extended time periods. For example, the Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly the Omaha Royals) have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals
Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals are a Major League Baseball team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals are a member of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From 1973 to the present, the Royals have played in Kauffman Stadium...

 since the Royals joined the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 in 1969, but the Columbus Clippers
Columbus Clippers
The Columbus Clippers are a minor league baseball team based in Columbus, Ohio. The team plays in the International League and is the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The team is owned by the government of Franklin County, Ohio....

 changed affiliations from the New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

 to the Washington Nationals
Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals are a professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. The Nationals are a member of the Eastern Division of the National League of Major League Baseball . The team moved into the newly built Nationals Park in 2008, after playing their first three seasons in RFK Stadium...

 in 2007 and are now affiliated with the Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians are a professional baseball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. Since , they have played in Progressive Field. The team's spring training facility is in Goodyear, Arizona...

. A few minor league teams are directly owned by their major league parent club, such as the Springfield Cardinals
Springfield Cardinals
The Springfield Cardinals are a minor league baseball team based in Springfield, Missouri. The team, which plays in the Texas League, is the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals major-league club, and is owned by the Cardinals. The club plays at Hammons Field.The Springfield Cardinals...

, owned by the St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are members of the Central Division in the National League of Major League Baseball. The Cardinals have won eleven World Series championships, the most of any National League team, and second overall only to...

, and all of the Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves are a professional baseball club based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Braves are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League. The Braves have played in Turner Field since 1997....

' affiliates except for the Lynchburg Hillcats
Lynchburg Hillcats
The Lynchburg Hillcats are a minor league baseball team in Lynchburg, Virginia. They are a Class High-A team in the Carolina League, and currently are a farm team of the Atlanta Braves. They had been a farm team of the Pittsburgh Pirates since 1995, with the Cincinnati Reds fulfilling the final...

. Minor League teams that are owned directly by the major league Club do not have PDCs with each other and are not part of the reaffiliation shuffles that occur every other year.

Today, 20 minor baseball leagues operate with 246 member clubs in large, medium, and small towns, as well as the suburbs of major cities, across the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

.

History

The earliest professional baseball association, the National Association
National Association of Professional Base Ball Players
The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players , or simply the National Association , was founded in 1871 and continued through the 1875 season...

 of 1871 to 1875, comprised all fully professional teams. This system proved unworkable, however, as there was no way to ensure competitive balance, and financially unsound clubs often failed midseason. This problem was solved in 1876 with the formation of the National League
National League
The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League , is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball, and the world's oldest extant professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional...

, with a limited membership which excluded less competitive and financially weaker teams. Professional clubs outside the National League responded by forming regional associations of their own. There was a series of ad hoc groupings, such as the New England Association of 1877 and the Eastern Championship Association of 1881. These were loose groups of independent clubs which agreed to play a series of games for a championship pennant.

The first minor league is traditionally considered to be the Northwestern League
Northwestern League
The Northwestern League was a minor league baseball league that operated from 1883–1884, and again from 1886-1887. It was founded by Elias Matter in 1883.-1883-1884:...

 of 1883 to 1884. Unlike the earlier minor associations, it was conceived as a permanent organization. It also, along with the National League and the American Association, was a party to the National Agreement of 1883. Included in this was the agreement to respect the reserve lists of clubs in each league. Teams in the National League and the American Association could only reserve players who had been paid at least $1000. Northwest League teams could reserve players paid merely $750, implicitly establishing the division into major and minor leagues. Over the next two decades, more minor leagues signed various versions of the National Agreement. Eventually, the minor leagues joined together to negotiate jointly.

In the late 1890s, the Western League
Western League (U.S. baseball)
The Western League of Professional Baseball Clubs, simply called the Western League, was a minor league baseball league originally founded on February 11, 1885, and focused in the Midwest....

 run by the fiery Ban Johnson
Ban Johnson
Byron Bancroft "Ban" Johnson , was an American executive in professional baseball who served as the founder and first president of the American League ....

 decided to challenge the National League's position. In 1900, he changed the name of the league to the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 and vowed to make deals to sign contracts with players who were dissatisfied with the pay and terms of their deals with the National League
National League
The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League , is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball, and the world's oldest extant professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional...

. This led to a nasty turf war that heated up in 1901 enough to concern Patrick T. Powers
Patrick T. Powers
Patrick T. Powers was an American baseball executive who served as president of the Eastern League and founding president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor leagues organization that celebrated its hundredth season in 2001...

, president of the Eastern League, and many other minor league owners about the conflict potentially affecting their organizations. Representatives of the different minor leagues met at the Leland Hotel in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 on September 5, 1901. In response to the National-American battle, they agreed to form the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, called the NAPBL, or NA for short. (The NA uses the name Minor League Baseball today.) The purpose of the NA at the time was to maintain the independence of the leagues involved. Several did not sign the agreement and continued to work independently. Powers was made the first president of the NAPBL, whose offices were established in Auburn, New York
Auburn, New York
Auburn is a city in Cayuga County, New York, United States of America. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 27,687...

.

In 1903 the conflict between the American and National Leagues ended in the National Agreement of 1903. The NAPBL became involved in the later stages of the negotiations to develop rules for the acquisition of players from their leagues by the National and the American. The 1903 agreement ensured that teams would be compensated for the players that they had taken the time and effort to scout and develop, and no NA team was required to sell their players, although most did because the cash was an important source of revenue for most teams. The NA leagues were still fiercely independent, and the term "minor" was seldom used in reference to them, save by the major-market sports writers. News did not travel far in the days before television and radio, so, while the leagues often bristled at the major market writers descriptions, they viewed themselves as independent sports businesses. Many baseball writers of that time regarded the greatest players of the minor leagues, such as Buzz Arlett
Buzz Arlett
Russell Loris Arlett , also known as Buzz Arlett, was an American baseball player of German descent. Sometimes called "the Babe Ruth of the minor leagues." Like Ruth, Arlett was a large man who began his career as a pitcher before becoming his league's dominant home run hitter...

, Jigger Statz
Jigger Statz
Arnold John "Jigger" Statz was a Major League Baseball outfielder who also had a lengthy minor league career....

, Ike Boone
Ike Boone
Isaac Morgan Boone was a right fielder in Major League Baseball. Boone batted left-handed and threw right-handed. He was born in Samantha, Alabama...

, Buddy Ryan
Buddy Ryan (baseball)
John Budd Ryan was a Major League Baseball outfielder who played for two seasons. He played for the Cleveland Naps from 1912 to 1913, playing in 166 career games.-External links:...

, Earl Rapp
Earl Rapp
Earl Wellington "Rappy" Rapp was a 6'2", 185 pound Major League Baseball outfielder who played in 1949 and from 1951 to 1952 for the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, New York Giants, St...

 and Frank Shellenback
Frank Shellenback
Frank Victor Shellenback was an American pitcher, pitching coach, and scout in Major League Baseball. As a pitcher, he was famous as an expert spitballer when the pitch was still legal in organized baseball; however, because Shellenback, then 21, was on a minor league roster when the spitball was...

, as comparable to major league players. Leagues in the NA would not be truly called minor until Branch Rickey
Branch Rickey
Wesley Branch Rickey was an innovative Major League Baseball executive elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967...

 developed the first modern farm system in the 1930s. The Commissioner of Baseball
Commissioner of Baseball
The Commissioner of Baseball is the chief executive of Major League Baseball and its associated minor leagues. Under the direction of the Commissioner, the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball hires and maintains the sport's umpiring crews, and negotiates marketing, labor, and television contracts...

, Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Kenesaw Mountain Landis was an American jurist who served as a federal judge from 1905 to 1922 and as the first Commissioner of Baseball from 1920 until his death...

 fought Rickey's scheme, but, ultimately, the Great Depression drove teams to establish systems like Rickey's to ensure a steady supply of players, as many NA and independent teams could not afford to keep their doors open without the patronage of major league baseball. The leagues of the NA became subordinate to the major leagues, creating the first minor leagues. Other than the Pacific Coast League
Pacific Coast League
The Pacific Coast League is a minor-league baseball league operating in the Western, Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Along with the International League and the Mexican League, it is one of three leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.The...

, which under its president Pants Rowland
Pants Rowland
Clarence Henry "Pants" Rowland was a Major League Baseball manager for the Chicago White Sox from 1915 through 1918 who went on to become a major figure in minor league baseball. He was born in Platteville, Wisconsin...

 tried to become a third major league in the Western states, the other leagues maintained autonomy in name only, being totally economically dependent upon the American and National leagues.

In 1922, the United States Supreme Court decision Federal Baseball Club v. National League
Federal Baseball Club v. National League
Federal Baseball Club v. National League, , is a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sherman Antitrust Act did not apply to Major League Baseball.-Background:...

(259 U.S. 200), which grants baseball a special immunity from antitrust laws, had a major effect on the minor leagues. The special immunity meant that the American and National leagues could dictate terms under which every independent league did business. By 1925, major league baseball established a flat-fee purchase amount of $5,000 for the contract of any player from an NA league team. This power was leveled primarily at the Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles (minor league)
The city of Baltimore, Maryland has been home to two minor league baseball teams called the Baltimore Orioles.-Name history:"Orioles" is a traditional name for baseball clubs in Baltimore . It was used by major league teams from 1882 through 1899 in the American Association/National League and by...

, then a Triple-A team that had dominated the minors with stars.

Current system

Under most circumstances, minor league teams are not owned by Major league clubs, but have affiliation contracts with them. A small number of minor league clubs are directly owned by major league clubs, but these are rare. Major league Rule 56 governs the standard terms of a Player Development Contract (PDC) which is the standard agreement of association between a minor league team and its major league affiliate. Generally, the parent major league club pays the salaries and benefits of uniformed personnel (players and coaches) and bats and balls, while the minor league club pays for in-season travel and other operational expenses.

Minor league teams often change their affiliation with major league clubs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes Major or Minor League clubs wish to affiliate with a partner that is geographically closer. In recent years, some MLB clubs have attempted to place as many affiliated teams within their blackout area
Major League Baseball blackout policy
Major League Baseball has several blackout rules. Games are blacked out based on two criteria:* A local broadcaster has priority to televise games of the team in their market over national broadcasters. For example, at one time TBS showed many Atlanta Braves games nationally and internationally in...

, to make scouting and player transfers more convenient and to take advantage of the existing fan base, as interest in the parent team builds support for the minor league affiliate and early fan interest in developing minor league players reinforces support for the parent team as "local players" reach the majors. Sometimes a Minor League club wishes to improve the caliber of players its major league affiliate sends to play there. Sometimes a major league club wishes to improve the facility where it will send its developing players. In even-numbered years, any Major or Minor League club with an expiring PDC may notify Major League Baseball or Minor League Baseball, respectively, of its desire to explore a re-affiliation with a different PDC partner. The Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball offices then send a list of the corresponding Major and Minor League clubs seeking new affiliations, and there is a limited period of time in September within which clubs may agree upon new PDCs. If any are left over after this process, the Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball offices are empowered to assign Major and Minor League clubs to each other.

Going into the 2010 season, the longest continuous link between major league and minor league clubs was the link between the Orioles and their Rookie-level Appalachian League
Appalachian League
The Appalachian League is a Rookie-class minor league that began play in 1937 with one year of inactivity in 1956. From 1937 to 1962, it was a Class D League. Teams are located in the Appalachian regions of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee...

 affiliate, the Bluefield Orioles
Bluefield Orioles
The Bluefield Blue Jays are a minor league baseball team of the Rookie Appalachian League representing the twin cities of Bluefield, West Virginia, and Bluefield, Virginia. Beginning in 2011, Bluefield will be affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays. The team plays their home games at Bowen Field, a...

. The teams were affiliated for 53 years, from 1958 through 2010. Baltimore ended the PDC after the 2010 season. At the start of the 2011 season, the longest continuous affiliations will be two 45-year links: between the Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies are a Major League Baseball team. They are the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional American sports, dating to 1883. The Phillies are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's National League...

 and their Double-A Eastern League affiliate, the Reading Phillies
Reading Phillies
The Reading Phillies are a minor league baseball team based in Reading, Pennsylvania, playing in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League. Since the 1967 season, they have been the AA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies....

; and the one between the Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers are a Major League Baseball team located in Detroit, Michigan. One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Detroit in as part of the Western League. The Tigers have won four World Series championships and have won the American League pennant...

 and their Single-A Florida State League
Florida State League
The Florida State League is a Class A-Advanced minor league baseball league operating in the state of Florida. They are one of three leagues currently operating in Class A-Advanced, the third highest of six classifications of minor leagues...

 affiliate, the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Both Reading and Lakeland are owned by their parent Major League clubs.

The current minor league classification system divides leagues into one of five classes, those being Triple-A (AAA), Double-A (AA), Class A (Single-A or A), Class A Short Season, and Rookie. Furthermore, Class A is further subdivided into Class A and Class A-Advanced (often called Low-A and High-A, respectively). Under the rules governing the affiliated minor leagues (specifically Major League Baseball Rule 51), Class A Short Season is a separate classification from the other leagues bearing the "Class A" name, despite the similarity in name.

Triple-A

This classification currently includes two affiliated leagues: the International League
International League
The International League is a minor league baseball league that operates in the eastern United States. Like the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League, it plays at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball. It was so named because it had teams in both the United States...

 and the Pacific Coast League
Pacific Coast League
The Pacific Coast League is a minor-league baseball league operating in the Western, Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Along with the International League and the Mexican League, it is one of three leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.The...

. The Mexican League is also classed a Triple-A league, though its clubs do not have PDCs with Major League clubs.

Both young players and veterans play for Triple-A teams. Teams usually hold many of the remaining 15 players of the 40-man major league roster whom the major league club has chosen not to play at the major league level. Players at Triple-A on the 40-man roster can be invited to come up to the major league club once the major league roster expands on September 1, although teams will usually wait until their affiliates' playoff runs are over, should they qualify. For teams in contention for a pennant, it gives them fresh players. For those not in contention, it gives them an opportunity to evaluate their second-tier players against major-league competition.

Double-A

There are currently three leagues in this classification: Eastern League
Eastern League (U.S. baseball)
The Eastern League is a minor league baseball league which operates primarily in the northeastern United States, although it has had a team in Ohio since 1989. The Eastern League has played at the AA level since 1963. The league was founded in 1923 as the New York-Pennsylvania League...

, Southern League
Southern League (baseball)
The Southern League is a minor league baseball league which operates in the Southern United States. It is classified a Double-A league. The original league was formed in , and shut down in . A new league, the Southern Association, was formed in , consisting of twelve teams...

, and the Texas League
Texas League
The Texas League is a minor league baseball league which operates in the South Central United States. It is classified a Double-A league. The league was founded in 1888 and ran through 1892...

. Some players will jump to the majors from this level, as many of the top prospects are put here to play against each other rather than against minor and major league veterans in Triple-A. A small handful of players might be placed here to start, usually veterans from foreign leagues with more experience in professional baseball. The expectation is usually that these players will be in the majors by the end of the season, as their salaries tend to be higher than those of most prospects.

Unlike the major league and the Triple-A level, two of the three Double-A leagues have their season divided in to two parts, the Eastern League
Eastern League (U.S. baseball)
The Eastern League is a minor league baseball league which operates primarily in the northeastern United States, although it has had a team in Ohio since 1989. The Eastern League has played at the AA level since 1963. The league was founded in 1923 as the New York-Pennsylvania League...

 being the exception. One team may clinch a spot in the playoffs by winning the division in first half of the season. The teams' records are then cleared and another team will also clinch a playoff slot during the second half. Wild cards are used to fill out the remaining teams. Usually, four teams qualify for the league playoffs. This system is used at the Class A level as well.

Class A

Class A is a classification comprising two sub-classifications: Class A-Advanced and Class A. Players usually have less experience or have particular issues to work out; pitching control and batting consistency are the two most frequent reasons for a player to be assigned to Class A baseball.

Class A-Advanced

One level below Double-A, the California League
California League
The California League is a Class A Advanced minor league baseball league which operates throughout the state of California. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High-A" league, indicating its status as a Class A league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth...

, Florida State League
Florida State League
The Florida State League is a Class A-Advanced minor league baseball league operating in the state of Florida. They are one of three leagues currently operating in Class A-Advanced, the third highest of six classifications of minor leagues...

, and the Carolina League
Carolina League
The Carolina League is a minor league baseball affiliation which operates in the South Atlantic Coast of the United States. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High A" league, indicating its status as a Class A league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth...

 play at the Class A-Advanced level. This is often a second or third promotion for a minor league player, although a few high first-round draftees, particularly those with college experience, will jump to this level. These leagues play a complete season like Triple-A and Double-A, April through early September. Many of these teams, especially in the Florida State League, are owned by major league parent clubs and use their spring training complexes.

Class A

Slightly below Class A-Advanced are the full season Class-A leagues, the South Atlantic League
South Atlantic League
The South Atlantic League is a minor league baseball league based chiefly in the Southeastern United States, with the exception of three teams in the Mid-Atlantic States...

 and Midwest League
Midwest League
The Midwest League is a Class-A minor league baseball league which operates in the Midwestern United States.-History:Six teams – the Belleville Stags, the Centralia Cubs, the Marion Indians, the Mattoon Indians or East Frankfort White Sox, the Mount Vernon Braves, and the West Frankfort...

. These leagues are a mix of players moving up from the Short-Season A and Rookie leagues, as well as the occasional experienced first-year player.

Class A-Short Season

Class A-Short Season, despite sharing the "Class A" designation, is, in fact, a separate classification from Class A. Short Season A teams are slightly more limited than Class A teams with respect to player age and years of experience in professional baseball. As the name implies, these leagues play a shortened season
Short season
Short season refers to a form of class A minor league baseball in which only about 75 games are played each season, as opposed to the typical 140 games for an affiliated minor league team at a higher level...

, starting in June and ending in early September with only a few off-days during the season. The late start to the season is designed to allow college players to complete the College World Series
College World Series
The College World Series or CWS is an annual baseball tournament held in Omaha, Nebraska that is the culmination of the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship, which determines the NCAA Division I college baseball champion. The eight teams are split into two, four-team, double-elimination brackets,...

 before turning professional, give major league teams time to sign their newest draftees, and immediately place them in a competitive league. Players in these leagues are a mixture of newly-signed draftees and second-year pros who weren't ready to move on, or for whom there was not space at a higher level to move up. Second-year pros tend to be assigned to extended spring training until the short-season leagues begin. For many players, this is the first time they have ever used wooden baseball bat
Baseball bat
A baseball bat is a smooth wooden or metal club used in the game of baseball to hit the ball after the ball is thrown by the pitcher. It is no more than 2.75 inches in diameter at the thickest part and no more than 42 inches in length. It typically weighs no more than 33 ounces , but it...

s, as aluminum bats are most common in the amateur game. Players are permitted to use certain approved composite bats at this classification to help them make the transition from aluminum to wood bats. This is also often the first time they have played every day for a prolonged basis, as amateur competitions typically regulate the number of games played in a week.

Short-season leagues consists of the New York-Penn League and Northwest League
Northwest League
The Northwest League of Professional Baseball is a Class A-Short Season minor baseball league. The league is the descendant of the Western International League which ran as a class B league from 1937-1951 and class A from 1952-1954...

 which are the highest level short-season affiliates for 22 MLB organizations. The remaining eight clubs have their highest level short-season affiliate in either the Appalachian
Appalachian League
The Appalachian League is a Rookie-class minor league that began play in 1937 with one year of inactivity in 1956. From 1937 to 1962, it was a Class D League. Teams are located in the Appalachian regions of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee...

 or Pioneer Leagues, which are officially classified as "Rookie" level leagues.

Rookie

Leagues in the Rookie classification play a shortened season similar to the Short-Season A classification leagues, starting in June and ending in early September. This lowest level of minor league baseball consists of six leagues, the Appalachian League
Appalachian League
The Appalachian League is a Rookie-class minor league that began play in 1937 with one year of inactivity in 1956. From 1937 to 1962, it was a Class D League. Teams are located in the Appalachian regions of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee...

, Pioneer League, Arizona League
Arizona League
The Arizona League is a minor league baseball league that operates in and around Phoenix, Arizona. It is a rookie-level professional baseball league run by Major League Baseball since 1989. Games are played at the spring training complexes of the team's parent organizations from mid-June until the...

, Gulf Coast League
Gulf Coast League
The Gulf Coast League is a minor league baseball league which operates in Florida. It is a Rookie League, with a season running from mid-June to late August. The season is 60 games long and teams in the league are divided into three divisions, East, North and South...

, Dominican Summer League
Dominican Summer League
The Dominican Summer League is a branch of affiliated minor league baseball which is played in the Dominican Republic. The league was founded in 1985. The 2011 72-game season begins May 28 and ends August 20...

, and Venezuelan Summer League
Venezuelan Summer League
The Venezuelan Summer League is a minor league baseball rookie league which operates in Carabobo and Aragua states, Venezuela.The VSL was created in 1997, after several operational years of the Major League Baseball's academies in the country...

. The Appalachian and Pioneer leagues are actually hybrid leagues; while officially classed as "Rookie" leagues, several major league teams have their higher-class short season teams in those leagues. These teams also maintain Rookie-level teams in other leagues as well. The Gulf Coast and Arizona leagues are informally known as "complex-based" leagues, nicknamed for the minor-league complexes where most games in those leagues are played. All of the other Rookie leagues are short season leagues as well.

Variations in the system

There are variations to the Farm System's classes that should be noted:
  • Rehabilitation (Rehab) Assignments – Players on the Disabled List (DL) can be sent to the minor leagues for rehab work, typically for one or two weeks. Players are often sent to minor league clubs based on geography and facilities, not necessarily by class for these reassignments. Curt Schilling
    Curt Schilling
    Curtis Montague "Curt" Schilling is a former American Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. He helped lead the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series in and won World Series championships in with the Arizona Diamondbacks and in and with the Boston Red Sox. Schilling retired with a...

    's recovery from an ankle injury in 2005 saw him rehab in Pawtucket, Rhode Island at the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox
    Pawtucket Red Sox
    The Pawtucket Red Sox are the minor league baseball Triple-A affiliates of the Boston Red Sox and belong to the International League...

    , very close to the home club in Boston. Minnesota Twins
    Minnesota Twins
    The Minnesota Twins are a professional baseball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They play in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The team is named after the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St. Paul. They played in Metropolitan Stadium from 1961 to 1981 and the...

     superstar Joe Mauer
    Joe Mauer
    Joseph Patrick Mauer is a Major League Baseball catcher for the Minnesota Twins. He is the only catcher in Major League history to win three batting titles...

    , who missed most of the first two months of the 2011 season due to a difficult recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery after the 2010 season, reported to Minnesota's Class-A Florida State League team, the Fort Myers Miracle
    Fort Myers Miracle
    The Fort Myers Miracle is the Class A Advanced minor league baseball affiliate of the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball club, currently managed by Jake Mauer. Home games are played at the Lee County Sports Complex in Hammond Stadium, which has a capacity of 7,500, and opened in...

    , which is based in their well-equipped Spring Training facility in Fort Myers. In addition, the Miracle manager at the time was Mauer's older brother Jake
    Jake Mauer
    Donald Charles "Jake" Mauer is a former Minor League Baseball player, and former NCAA Division III baseball standout. As senior in , he set the University of St. Thomas season record for hits with 83, and is the school's career leader in hits , runs & games . He was inducted into the St...

    .
  • Minor League Free Agency – Like major leaguers, minor league players also enjoy free agency
    Free agent
    In professional sports, a free agent is a player whose contract with a team has expired and who is thus eligible to sign with another club or franchise....

    . Their contracts expire after seven Minor League seasons, if they are not on the 40-man major league roster at the time of the expiration of their Minor League contracts. Those who can't find the right deal with an affiliated baseball club may also take a season in independent baseball before returning to the farm system of another major league club. This is done because players, in the world of free agency and high-dollar salaries, often find their careers "stuck." Major league clubs will often trade for a big dollar position player rather than call someone up from the minor leagues. This can leave position players in the Triple-A and Double-A levels of the farm system with no ability to move up. They become "spare parts" players unless they can find a new club that views their skills differently.
  • Class System Variations – The classification system today is a very rough rule of thumb, particularly in the "readiness" category. There are players who start at all levels of the farm system, although launching from Triple-A is the most rare. More and more players are taken from Class AA to the majors without time in Class AAA. Triple-A has two appropriate nicknames: It's been dubbed the "parking lot" by some sports writers because players can easily get trapped into being reserves for injured major leaguers. It's also been called the "third major league," because the level of play is exceptional, players play harder because they want to prove something to those judging their talent, and because some teams used to draw as well as, if not better, than their major league counterparts. The Marlins may have won the 2003 World Series, but up until playoff time, their Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes
    Albuquerque Isotopes
    The Albuquerque Isotopes are a minor league baseball team based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The team, which plays in the Pacific Coast League, is the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers...

     franchise was outdrawing the major league club most nights of the week. New stadiums and franchise relocations have made this scenario less likely. The independent leagues also play a role, draining off some talent looking for a change, while some players, particularly ones originally from countries other than the United States, may elect to play in Japan.

Reorganization of 1963

The current minor league structure is largely based on a significant reorganization that occurred before the season, which was caused by the club and league contraction of the 1950s and early 1960s. In , the peak of the post-World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 minor league baseball boom, 438 teams in 59 leagues were members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. By the end of , only 15 leagues survived in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

.

Previous structure (1946–1962)

In , the Triple-A classification was created and it became the highest level of the minors, which formerly was called Double-A. The two Class A1 circuits, the Texas League
Texas League
The Texas League is a minor league baseball league which operates in the South Central United States. It is classified a Double-A league. The league was founded in 1888 and ran through 1892...

 and the Southern Association
Southern Association
The Southern Association was a higher-level minor league in American organized baseball from 1901 through 1961. For most of its existence, the Southern Association was two steps below the Major Leagues; it was graded Class A , Class A1 and Class AA...

, were then designated Double-A, now two rungs below MLB.

Before 1963, the Class A level was a middle- to higher-rung classification. In 1946, Class A consisted of the Eastern League and the original South Atlantic or "Sally" League
Southern League (baseball)
The Southern League is a minor league baseball league which operates in the Southern United States. It is classified a Double-A league. The original league was formed in , and shut down in . A new league, the Southern Association, was formed in , consisting of twelve teams...

, and it would soon include the Western League
Western League (defunct minor league)
The Western League is a name given to several circuits in American minor league baseball. Its earliest progenitor, which existed from 1885 to 1899, was the predecessor of the American League...

 (1947–1958), the Central League
Central League (baseball)
The Central League was a minor league baseball league that operated sporadically from 1903-1917, 1920-1922, 1926, 1928-1930, 1934, and 1948-1951. In 1926, the league merged mid-season with the Michigan State League and played under that name for the remainder of the season...

 (1948–1951), and the Western International League
Western International League
The Western International League was a mid- to higher-level circuit in American and Canadian minor league baseball. It operated in 1923, 1937-42, and 1946-54. In 1955, it changed its name to the Northwest League, and still operates today as a Short Season A loop under that name.The WIL consisted of...

 (1952–1954), which would become the Class B Northwest League
Northwest League
The Northwest League of Professional Baseball is a Class A-Short Season minor baseball league. The league is the descendant of the Western International League which ran as a class B league from 1937-1951 and class A from 1952-1954...

 in 1955. The lower levels of the minors were ranked Classes B through D in descending order. With the exception of the 1952–1957 Open Classification experiment for the Pacific Coast League
Pacific Coast League
The Pacific Coast League is a minor-league baseball league operating in the Western, Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Along with the International League and the Mexican League, it is one of three leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.The...

, this structure would remain intact through . (see Defunct levels, below)

The 1963 classification realignment

During the 1962-1963 offseason, the two remaining Triple-A leagues (the International
International League
The International League is a minor league baseball league that operates in the eastern United States. Like the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League, it plays at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball. It was so named because it had teams in both the United States...

 and Pacific Coast leagues) absorbed the four surviving franchises from the defunct American Association
American Association (20th century)
The American Association was a minor league baseball league at the Triple-A level of baseball in the United States from to and to . Together with the International League, it contested the Junior World Series which determined the championship team in minor league baseball, at least for the...

. Meanwhile, at the Double-A level and below there were even more significant changes:
  • The two existing Class A leagues — the Eastern and Sally — were upgraded to Double-A, joining the Texas League and the Mexican League, then Double-A, as members of this classification. This move was caused by the disbanding of the Southern Association after 1961, leaving the six-team Texas League as the only U.S.-based Double-A circuit in 1962. (The Mexican League, although a formal member of minor league baseball, was not affiliated with any Major League teams.) In addition, many Major League parent teams had frequently treated the pre-1963 Eastern and Sally leagues as de facto Double-A circuits, one step (rather than two) below Triple-A. In 1964, the Sally League changed its name to its current identity, the Southern League.

  • The Class B Carolina League
    Carolina League
    The Carolina League is a minor league baseball affiliation which operates in the South Atlantic Coast of the United States. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High A" league, indicating its status as a Class A league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth...

     and Northwest League
    Northwest League
    The Northwest League of Professional Baseball is a Class A-Short Season minor baseball league. The league is the descendant of the Western International League which ran as a class B league from 1937-1951 and class A from 1952-1954...

    , the Class C California League
    California League
    The California League is a Class A Advanced minor league baseball league which operates throughout the state of California. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High-A" league, indicating its status as a Class A league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth...

    , Pioneer League and Northern League, and the Class D Florida State League
    Florida State League
    The Florida State League is a Class A-Advanced minor league baseball league operating in the state of Florida. They are one of three leagues currently operating in Class A-Advanced, the third highest of six classifications of minor leagues...

    , Georgia-Florida League
    Georgia-Florida League
    The Georgia-Florida League was a minor baseball league that existed from 1935 through 1958 and in 1962–1963...

    , Midwest League
    Midwest League
    The Midwest League is a Class-A minor league baseball league which operates in the Midwestern United States.-History:Six teams – the Belleville Stags, the Centralia Cubs, the Marion Indians, the Mattoon Indians or East Frankfort White Sox, the Mount Vernon Braves, and the West Frankfort...

    , New York-Penn League, and Western Carolinas League
    Western Carolinas League
    The Western Carolinas League was a Class D and a low Class A full-season league in American minor league baseball. The WCL changed its name prior to the 1980 season and has been known since as the South Atlantic League, a highly successful low Class A circuit with teams up the Eastern Seaboard...

     were all designated Class A (or Single-A) leagues. (The unaffiliated Mexican Center League of 1960–1978, ranked Class C in 1962, also was upgraded to Class A.)

  • The Class D Appalachian League
    Appalachian League
    The Appalachian League is a Rookie-class minor league that began play in 1937 with one year of inactivity in 1956. From 1937 to 1962, it was a Class D League. Teams are located in the Appalachian regions of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee...

    , then the only "short-season" circuit, was given a new designation as a "Rookie" league. In 1964, the Pioneer League stepped down to Rookie league status, and the first "complex-based" leagues, the Sarasota Rookie League
    Sarasota Rookie League
    The Sarasota Rookie League was an American Rookie-classification minor baseball league that existed in . Its four teams were owned and operated by Major League Baseball clubs and played in minor league training complexes in Sarasota, Florida. The SRL was succeeded in by the Florida Rookie League,...

     and the Cocoa Rookie League, made their debuts.


As part of the 1963 reorganization, Major League clubs increased their commitments to affiliate with minor league teams through Player Development Contracts, outright ownerships, or shared affiliations and co-op arrangements.

Further changes after 1963

In 1965, the Short-Season Class A designation was created, and the Northern (1965), Northwest (1965) and New York-Penn (1967) loops moved into that classification.

The Georgia-Florida League disbanded after the 1963 season, while the Northern League played its last year in official minor league baseball in 1971. The Sarasota Rookie League underwent a name change to the Florida Rookie League in 1965 before becoming the modern Gulf Coast League
Gulf Coast League
The Gulf Coast League is a minor league baseball league which operates in Florida. It is a Rookie League, with a season running from mid-June to late August. The season is 60 games long and teams in the league are divided into three divisions, East, North and South...

 the next season. The Cocoa Rookie League lasted only one season, but the Florida East Coast League
Florida East Coast League
The Florida East Coast League was the name of two American minor league baseball circuits, based on the Atlantic coast of Florida.The first incarnation of the FECL was as a Class D circuit that played from through May 14,...

 of 1972 was based in the same region of the state. In 1980, the Western Carolinas League became the modern incarnation of the South Atlantic League
South Atlantic League
The South Atlantic League is a minor league baseball league based chiefly in the Southeastern United States, with the exception of three teams in the Mid-Atlantic States...

. The American Association was revived as a Triple-A league in 1969 and flourished with the minor league baseball boom of the 1980s and 1990s. However, its teams were again absorbed into the International and Pacific Coast leagues in 1998 as part of a sweeping reorganization of the minors' top classification.

During the 1970s, three "official" minor leagues attempted unsuccessfully to revive unaffiliated baseball within the organized baseball structure. These were the Class A Gulf States League
Gulf States League
The Gulf States League was a Class A American minor baseball league that existed for one season — — and was based in the American states of Texas and Louisiana. Although its teams were not affiliated with any Major League Baseball farm systems, the GSL was an "official" minor circuit and a member...

 (1976), Lone Star League
Lone Star League
The Lone Star League was the name of three American minor professional baseball leagues located in the state of Texas during the 20th century. The leagues operated from 1927–1929 , 1947–1948 and 1977 ....

 (1977), and the Class AAA Inter-American League
Inter-American League
The Inter-American League was a high-level circuit in minor league baseball that played only three months before folding during the 1979 season...

 (1979). None lasted more than a full season.

Open

The Pacific Coast League
Pacific Coast League
The Pacific Coast League is a minor-league baseball league operating in the Western, Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Along with the International League and the Mexican League, it is one of three leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.The...

, from 1952–1957, was the only minor league to obtain this classification. At this time, the major leagues only extended as far west as St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

 and as far south as Washington, DC. This classification severely restricted the rights of the major leagues to draft players out of the PCL, and at the time it seemed like the PCL would eventually become a third major league. The PCL would revert back to Triple-A classification in 1958 due to increasing television coverage of major league games and in light of the Dodgers and Giants moving to Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 and San Francisco, respectively. The open classification no longer exists in the major league rules.

Class A1

The forerunner to the modern Double-A classification, the A1 level existed from 1936 through 1945. In , two Class A circuits, the Texas League and the Southern Association, were upgraded to A1 to signify their continued status as one step below the highest classification, then Double-A, yet a notch above their former Class A peers, the New York-Pennsylvania League
New York-Pennsylvania League (early 20th century)
The New York-Pennsylvania League of 1923 through 1937 was an American minor league baseball circuit.The forerunner to the modern Class AA Eastern League, it was a Class B circuit through 1932 and upgraded to Class A for the final five seasons of its existence. It is actually the second of three...

 and Western League
Western League (defunct minor league)
The Western League is a name given to several circuits in American minor league baseball. Its earliest progenitor, which existed from 1885 to 1899, was the predecessor of the American League...

. Ten years later, after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, with the minor leagues poised for unprecedented growth, classification terminology was changed. Beginning in , the three Double-A leagues (the American Association and International and Pacific Coast leagues) joined a new classification, Triple-A, and the two A1 leagues became known as Double-A.

Class B, C and D

Until 1963, there were also Class B, C, and D leagues (and, for half a season, one E league). The Class D of that day would be equivalent to the Rookie level today. The other class designations disappeared because leagues of that level could not sustain operation during a large downturn in the financial fortunes of minor league baseball in the 1950s and 1960s caused by the rise of television broadcasts of major league sports across broad regions of the country. The impact of the Korean War in 1950 caused a player shortage in most cities in class D and C. The Class E level existed briefly during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, with the 1943 Twin Ports League
Twin Ports League
The Twin Ports League was an American minor baseball league that existed for six weeks during the wartime season. Comprising four teams based in Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin, the TPL was the only league to be designated "Class E" — one level below the previously lowest minor league...

. It folded July 13 after six weeks of operation.

Players

Only 25 of the players on a Major League Baseball team's 40-man major league reserve list may be active for the major league club, except from September 1 to the end of the regular season when teams are allowed to expand their game-day rosters to 40 players. The remaining 15 players are generally either on the disabled list
Disabled list
In Major League Baseball, the disabled list is a method for teams to remove their injured players from the roster in order to summon healthy players.-General guidelines:...

 or play at some level of the minor leagues (usually at the AAA or AA level). Players on the 40-man reserve list are eligible for membership in the Major League Baseball Players Association
Major League Baseball Players Association
The Major League Baseball Players Association is the union of professional major-league baseball players.-History of MLBPA:The MLBPA was not the first attempt to unionize baseball players...

. The minor league players work at the lower end of major league pay scales and are covered by all rules and player agreements of the players association. Minor league players not on the 40-man reserve list are under contract to their respective parent Major League Baseball clubs but have no union. They generally work for far less pay as they develop their skills and work their way up the ladder toward the major leagues. Many players have signing bonuses and other additional compensation that can run into the millions of dollars, although that is generally reserved for early round draft picks.

A major league team's Director of Player Development determines where a given player will be placed in the farm system, in coordination with the coaches and managers who evaluate their talent. At the end of Spring training
Spring training
In Major League Baseball, spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives existing team players practice time prior to competitive play...

, players both from the spring major camp and minor league winter camp are placed by the major league club on the roster of a minor league team. The Director of Player Development and the General Manager usually determine the initial assignments for new draftees, who typically begin playing professionally in June after they have been signed to contracts. The farm system is ever-changing, and evaluation of players is a constantly ongoing process. The Director of Player Development and his managers will meet or teleconference regularly to discuss how players are performing at each level. Personal development, injuries, and high levels of achievement by players in the classes below all steer a player's movement up and down in the class system.

Players will play for the team to which they are assigned for the duration of that season unless they are "called up," promoted to a higher level; "sent down," demoted to a lower class team in the major league club's farm system; or "released" from the farm system entirely. A release from minor-league level used to spell the end of a minor league player's career. In more modern times, released players often sign with independent baseball
Independent baseball
Independent baseball leagues are professional baseball organizations located in the United States and Canada. They are not operated in conjunction with either a Major League Baseball team or an affiliated minor league team. Being independent allows teams to be located close to major-league teams...

 clubs, which are scouted heavily by major league organizations. Many players will get a second or third look from the major league scouts if they turn their career around in the independent leagues.

Even though minor league players are paid considerably less than their major league counterparts, they are nevertheless paid for their services and are thus considered professional athletes. Baseball cards refer to "pro record" and "pro seasons" as including both major and minor leagues. For this reason, minor league players generally consider it an insult when someone asks when they're going to "get to the pros". More accurately, a player's aim is to reach "The Show" or the "big leagues."

In addition, a major league player on the disabled list may be sent to a minor league club for a "rehabilitation" assignment, allowing the player to face live competition (though not Major League level) as a means of working his way back into the regular lineup, prior to being returned to the team's active roster.

Umpires

The umpires
Umpire (baseball)
In baseball, the umpire is the person charged with officiating the game, including beginning and ending the game, enforcing the rules of the game and the grounds, making judgment calls on plays, and handling the disciplinary actions. The term is often shortened to the colloquial form ump...

 are the people charged with officiating the game, including beginning and ending the game, enforcing the rules of the game and the grounds, making judgment calls on plays, and handling the disciplinary actions.

The body responsible for any action related to the training, evaluation, and recommendation for promotion and retention or release of the umpires is the Professional Baseball Umpire Corp, which is an owned subsidiary of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.
The umpires are evaluated by the staff of the PBUC at each mid-season and end of the year. Based on performance during the year, an umpire may advance in classification the following season. PBUC holds an annual Evaluation Course every year in March to evaluate rookie umpires. Participants are normally the best students from the two professional umpire schools owned and operated by the same entity. The top students who pass the Evaluation Course are recommended for the first openings in the Rookie and Short-A leagues.

Any student who wants to work as an umpire must attend a professional umpire training school. The PBUC recognizes two schools for training prospective professional umpires, the Jim Evans
Jim Evans
James Bremond Evans is a former umpire in Major League Baseball who worked in the American League from 1971 to 1999. He now operates one of baseball's two major umpiring schools...

 Academy of Professional Umpiring and the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School
Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School
The Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School is one of two schools training umpires for professional baseball. It is located in Ormond Beach, Florida. It runs for five weeks each early January through early February...

, both located in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. The classes for each school are held for five weeks in January and February. The instructors at these schools are former or present Major or Minor League umpires. Simply attending one of these schools, however, does not guarantee that the candidate will also be recommended either to the Evaluation Course or to the openings in the Rookie or Short-Season A league.
Before the umpire development program was created, the Minor League presidents would recruit umpires directly from the schools. Umpires were then "sold" from league to league by word of mouth through the various league presidents.
The umpire development program first started in 1964, when it was decided that a method of recruitment, training and development for umpires of both Major and Minor Leagues was needed. The Umpire Development Program was founded at Baseball's 1964 Winter Meetings
Winter meetings
The Baseball Winter Meetings are an annual event, held each December, attended by representatives from all 30 Major League Baseball organizations, more than 160 minor league baseball teams, various league offices, companies associated with baseball and guests from international baseball-playing...

 in Houston, and it began operating the next year. The program aimed to recruit more athletic, energetic and dedicated individuals who would also have high morals and integrity standards. In 1968, it was decided that the program needed its own umpire training course which would be held each year. The first "Umpire Specialization Course" was held in St. Petersburg, Florida the following year.

Presently, the candidates for a job in professional umpiring must meet several requirements in order to be considered. An applicant must have a High School Diploma or a G.E.D., must be athletic, and also must have 20/20 vision, no matter if they wear glasses or contact lenses.
They must also have good communication skills, good reflexes and coordination, and must have trained at one of the two professional umpire schools.

Minor League Baseball/NAPBL

Minor League Baseball, formerly the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues and also known in the past as NAPBL, National Baseball Association, and NA, is the organization which oversees the governing and organization of minor league baseball in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

.

The NAPBL formed in 1901 as a reaction to the warfare going on between the National League
National League
The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League , is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball, and the world's oldest extant professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional...

 and the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

. The presidents of the other professional baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

 leagues then in existence were concerned that the two "major leagues
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

" and their continuing pirating of players and even whole teams were a threat to the existence of professional baseball in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. At the time, the National and American Leagues were not seen as "major leagues", but only as leagues which existed in larger cities. Led by Patrick T. Powers
Patrick T. Powers
Patrick T. Powers was an American baseball executive who served as president of the Eastern League and founding president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor leagues organization that celebrated its hundredth season in 2001...

, then-president of the Eastern League
International League
The International League is a minor league baseball league that operates in the eastern United States. Like the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League, it plays at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball. It was so named because it had teams in both the United States...

, the larger minor leagues then in existence banded together to control their own fates. Powers' idea was that, instead of going head-to-head with the National and American Leagues, the other leagues should set standard rules for officiating, player drafts, contracts, and location of teams. Fourteen leagues (the Eastern League, Western League
Western League (defunct minor league)
The Western League is a name given to several circuits in American minor league baseball. Its earliest progenitor, which existed from 1885 to 1899, was the predecessor of the American League...

, New England League
New England League
The New England League was a mid-level league in American minor league baseball that played sporadically in five of the six New England states between 1886 and 1949. After 1901, it existed in the shadow of two Major League Baseball clubs in Boston and alongside stronger, higher-classification...

, New York State League
New York State League
This article refers to the modern New York State League. For the original incarnations of the New York State League see New York State League ...

, Pacific Northwest League, Southern Association
Southern Association
The Southern Association was a higher-level minor league in American organized baseball from 1901 through 1961. For most of its existence, the Southern Association was two steps below the Major Leagues; it was graded Class A , Class A1 and Class AA...

, Three-I League
Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League
The Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League was a minor league baseball organization that operated for the better part of 60 years, mostly in those three states. It was popularly known as the Three-I League and also sometimes jokingly as the Three-Eye League....

, Carolina League
Carolina League
The Carolina League is a minor league baseball affiliation which operates in the South Atlantic Coast of the United States. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High A" league, indicating its status as a Class A league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth...

, Connecticut League
Connecticut League
The Connecticut League, also known as the Connecticut State League is a now defunct minor baseball league based in Connecticut. The league began as off-shoot of the original Connecticut State League in 1902 as a Class D league with teams in eight cities...

, Cotton States League
Cotton States League
The Cotton States League name was used five different times in baseball history. The first Cotton States League ran from 1902 through 1908 as a class D league. After the league shut down, another Cotton States League was reformulated in 1910, with three of the six '08 members returning for the new...

, Iowa-South Dakota League, Michigan State League
Michigan State League
Michigan State League was the name of six American professional baseball leagues. Five of them operated only one or two baseball seasons and the other four seasons...

, Missouri Valley League
Missouri Valley League
The Missouri Valley League was an American minor league baseball league which operated from 1902 through 1904.-1902:New teams in Nevada, Missouri, Springfield, Missouri, Fort Scott, Kansas, Sedalia, Missouri, Joplin, Missouri, Coffeyville, Kansas, Jefferson City, Missouri, and Iola, Kansas formed...

 and Texas League
Texas League
The Texas League is a minor league baseball league which operates in the South Central United States. It is classified a Double-A league. The league was founded in 1888 and ran through 1892...

) signed the agreement to begin play under the new rules effective with the 1902 season. Many leagues refused to join, fearing that the creation of the NA was just an attempt at forming another "major" league, and that its rules and territorial limits would interfere with their independence. When that fear failed to materialize, however, more and more leagues joined the NA until, within a few years, it consisted of thirty-five leagues.

Patrick Powers resigned his presidency of the NA in 1909 in order to concentrate on his private business interests. The Association managed to maintain its original purpose for about twenty years, but during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, many leagues began to fold, and the Association needed to look for more funding in order to keep minor league baseball going. This funding came from the same major league teams which the NA had been created to protect itself from. Starting in 1931, major league teams began affiliation agreements with minor league teams. Branch Rickey
Branch Rickey
Wesley Branch Rickey was an innovative Major League Baseball executive elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967...

, president of the St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are members of the Central Division in the National League of Major League Baseball. The Cardinals have won eleven World Series championships, the most of any National League team, and second overall only to...

, was the architect of the system which exists today, in which most minor league teams are affiliates of major league teams, supplying the Majors with development of younger players in exchange for financial support from the major league teams with which they are affiliated.

Because so many professional players went to fight during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the number of teams and leagues decreased even more until the end of the war. From 1945, when there were only twelve leagues left in the NA, there were fifty-nine in 1949. That number has decreased until, today, there are seventeen.

In 1999, the NAPBL formally changed its name to Minor League Baseball, which governs the minor league system, although there are several independent leagues which do not fall under the group's aegis.

Presidents of the NAPBL and Minor League Baseball

  • Patrick T. Powers
    Patrick T. Powers
    Patrick T. Powers was an American baseball executive who served as president of the Eastern League and founding president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor leagues organization that celebrated its hundredth season in 2001...

    , 1901–1909
  • Michael Sexton, 1909–1931
  • William G. Bramham, 1932–1946
  • George Trautman
    George Trautman
    George M. "Red" Trautman was an American baseball executive and college men's basketball coach.-Ohio State:...

    , 1947–1963
  • Phil Piton, 1964–1971
  • Hank Peters
    Hank Peters
    Henry J. "Hank" Peters is an American former baseball executive. He began his career in the scouting department of the St. Louis Browns and their successors, the Baltimore Orioles, in the mid-1950s...

    , 1972–1975
  • Bobby Bragan
    Bobby Bragan
    Robert Randall Bragan was a shortstop, catcher, manager, and coach in American Major League Baseball. He also was an influential executive in minor league baseball...

    , 1976–1978
  • Johnny Johnson, 1979–1988
  • Sal Artiaga, 1988–1991
  • Mike Moore, 1991–2007
  • Pat O’Conner, 2008–present

List of leagues and teams

AAA
  • International League
    International League
    The International League is a minor league baseball league that operates in the eastern United States. Like the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League, it plays at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball. It was so named because it had teams in both the United States...

  • Pacific Coast League
    Pacific Coast League
    The Pacific Coast League is a minor-league baseball league operating in the Western, Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Along with the International League and the Mexican League, it is one of three leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.The...

  • Mexican League
    Liga Mexicana de Beisbol
    The Mexican League is a summer minor league baseball league with teams based across Mexico. Along with the International League and the Pacific Coast League, it is one of three leagues playing at the triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball. It is the only Minor League...

     (clubs are unaffiliated with major league clubs, but the league is officially classed at the AAA level)


AA
  • Eastern League
  • Southern League
    Southern League (baseball)
    The Southern League is a minor league baseball league which operates in the Southern United States. It is classified a Double-A league. The original league was formed in , and shut down in . A new league, the Southern Association, was formed in , consisting of twelve teams...

  • Texas League
    Texas League
    The Texas League is a minor league baseball league which operates in the South Central United States. It is classified a Double-A league. The league was founded in 1888 and ran through 1892...



A-Advanced leagues
  • California League
    California League
    The California League is a Class A Advanced minor league baseball league which operates throughout the state of California. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High-A" league, indicating its status as a Class A league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth...

  • Carolina League
    Carolina League
    The Carolina League is a minor league baseball affiliation which operates in the South Atlantic Coast of the United States. Before 2002, it was classified as a "High A" league, indicating its status as a Class A league with the highest level of competition within that classification, and the fifth...

  • Florida State League
    Florida State League
    The Florida State League is a Class A-Advanced minor league baseball league operating in the state of Florida. They are one of three leagues currently operating in Class A-Advanced, the third highest of six classifications of minor leagues...



A
  • Midwest League
    Midwest League
    The Midwest League is a Class-A minor league baseball league which operates in the Midwestern United States.-History:Six teams – the Belleville Stags, the Centralia Cubs, the Marion Indians, the Mattoon Indians or East Frankfort White Sox, the Mount Vernon Braves, and the West Frankfort...

  • South Atlantic League
    South Atlantic League
    The South Atlantic League is a minor league baseball league based chiefly in the Southeastern United States, with the exception of three teams in the Mid-Atlantic States...



Short-Season A
  • New York - Penn League
    New York - Penn League
    The New York – Penn League is a minor league baseball league which operates in the northeastern United States. It is classified as a "Short-Season A" league; its season starts in June, after major-league teams have signed their amateur draft picks to professional contracts, and ends in early...

  • Northwest League
    Northwest League
    The Northwest League of Professional Baseball is a Class A-Short Season minor baseball league. The league is the descendant of the Western International League which ran as a class B league from 1937-1951 and class A from 1952-1954...



Rookie-Advanced leagues
  • Pioneer Baseball League
  • Appalachian League
    Appalachian League
    The Appalachian League is a Rookie-class minor league that began play in 1937 with one year of inactivity in 1956. From 1937 to 1962, it was a Class D League. Teams are located in the Appalachian regions of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee...



Rookie
  • Arizona League
    Arizona League
    The Arizona League is a minor league baseball league that operates in and around Phoenix, Arizona. It is a rookie-level professional baseball league run by Major League Baseball since 1989. Games are played at the spring training complexes of the team's parent organizations from mid-June until the...

  • Gulf Coast League
    Gulf Coast League
    The Gulf Coast League is a minor league baseball league which operates in Florida. It is a Rookie League, with a season running from mid-June to late August. The season is 60 games long and teams in the league are divided into three divisions, East, North and South...

  • Dominican Summer League
    Dominican Summer League
    The Dominican Summer League is a branch of affiliated minor league baseball which is played in the Dominican Republic. The league was founded in 1985. The 2011 72-game season begins May 28 and ends August 20...

  • Venezuelan Summer League
    Venezuelan Summer League
    The Venezuelan Summer League is a minor league baseball rookie league which operates in Carabobo and Aragua states, Venezuela.The VSL was created in 1997, after several operational years of the Major League Baseball's academies in the country...



Off-season leagues
  • Arizona Fall League
    Arizona Fall League
    The Arizona Fall League is an off-season league owned and operated by Major League Baseball which operates during the fall in Arizona, United States at five spring training complexes...

  • Colombian Professional Baseball League
    Colombian Professional Baseball League
    The Colombian Professional Baseball League, also known as the Colombian Winter League, is a professional baseball league based in Colombia...

  • Dominican Winter Baseball League
  • Mexican Pacific League
  • Puerto Rico Baseball League
  • Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
    Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
    The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League or Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional is the highest level baseball league in Venezuela.-Brief history:Baseball exploded in Venezuela in 1941, following the world championship in Havana....



Independent leagues
These leagues are not affiliated with Major League Baseball or Minor League Baseball and operate as fully independent professional leagues
  • American Association (not to be confused with the American Association from either the 19th century
    American Association (19th century)
    The American Association was a Major League Baseball league that existed for 10 seasons from to . During that time, it challenged the National League for dominance of professional baseball...

     or the 20th century
    American Association (20th century)
    The American Association was a minor league baseball league at the Triple-A level of baseball in the United States from to and to . Together with the International League, it contested the Junior World Series which determined the championship team in minor league baseball, at least for the...

    )
  • Atlantic League
    Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
    The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is a professional, independent baseball organization located primarily in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, especially the greater metropolitan areas of the Northeast megalopolis. It operates in cities not served by Major or Minor League...

  • Can-Am League
    Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball
    The Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball, based in Durham, North Carolina, is a professional, independent baseball league located in the Northeastern United States and the Canadian province of Quebec. It operates in cities not served by Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is...

  • Frontier League
    Frontier League
    The Frontier League, based in Sauget, Illinois, is a professional, independent baseball organization located in the Midwestern United States, Western Pennsylvania, and Southern Ontario. It operates mostly in cities not served by Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is not affiliated with either...

  • North American League
    North American League
    The North American League is an independent baseball league that began play in the 2011 season...

     (a confederation of the Golden, Northern, and United leagues, starting in 2011)
    • Golden Baseball League
      Golden Baseball League
      The Golden Baseball League, based in San Ramon, California, was an independent baseball league. It later merged with the Northern League and the United Baseball League to form the North American League in the western United States, western Canada and Mexico....

      • Arizona Summer League
        Arizona Summer League
        The Arizona Summer League is a short-season instructional summer professional baseball league affiliated with the independent North American League...

         (affiliated with GBL)
      • Arizona Winter League
        Arizona Winter League
        The Arizona Winter League is the short-season instructional independent winter professional baseball league affiliated with the independent North American League...

         (affiliated with GBL)
    • United League Baseball
      United League Baseball
      United League Baseball was an independent baseball league that operated in Texas. It later merged with the Northern League and the Golden Baseball League to form the North American League.- History :...

      • Texas Winter League
        Texas Winter League
        The Texas Winter League was the winter professional baseball league of the United League. Announced on October 25, 2006, and headquartered in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, it was an independent baseball league. The Winter League played in Harlingen, Texas with teams based in the lower Rio Grande...

         (affiliated with ULB)
  • Pecos League
    Pecos League
    The Pecos League is an independent professional baseball league Headquartered in Houston, Tx. which operates in cities in desert mountain regions throughout New Mexico, Southern Colorado and West Texas. Pecos Teams play in cities that do not have Major or Minor League Baseball teams and is not...


MiLBY Awards

The Minor League Baseball Yearly (MiLBY) Awards (formerly "This Year in Minor League Baseball Awards") are given in five categories (Best Starter, Best Hitter, Best Reliever, Best Single Game, Best Team), in each of the five levels of minor-league baseball (Triple-A, Double-A, Class A Advanced, Class A – Full Season, and Class A – Short Season).

Other player awards

  • MiLB J.G. Taylor Spink Award (Topps/Minor League Player of the Year)
  • MiLB George M. Trautman
    George Trautman
    George M. "Red" Trautman was an American baseball executive and college men's basketball coach.-Ohio State:...

     Awards (Topps Player of the Year) (in each of 16 domestic minor leagues)
  • MiLB Joe Bauman Home Run Award
    Joe Bauman Home Run Award
    The Joe Bauman Home Run Award is the award given to the minor league baseball player who hit the most regular season home runs that year. The award, first given in 2002, is named after Joe Bauman, who set a then-professional record with 72 home runs in 1954, while playing for the Roswell Rockets of...


Major awards

  • John H. Johnson President's Trophy (1974) – given each year, MiLB's top award recognizes "the complete baseball franchise—based on franchise stability, contributions to league stability, contributions to baseball in the community, and promotion of the baseball industry."
  • Rawlings
    Rawlings (company)
    Rawlings is a sports equipment manufacturing company in the United States. It was founded in 1887. The parent company is Jarden, Inc. Rawlings specializes in baseball equipment, but also manufactures softball, basketball, training equipment and American footballs...

     Woman Executive of the Year (1976) – given each year to a woman in MiLB for exceptional contributions to her club, her league, or baseball.
  • Warren Giles Award (1984) – given each year to a league president for outstanding service.
  • King of Baseball
    King of Baseball
    King of Baseball is a ceremonial title awarded by Minor League Baseball to one person each year in recognition of longtime dedication and service to professional baseball.- Background :The title was first awarded in 1951...

     (1951) – given annually in recognition of longtime dedication and service to professional baseball.
  • Larry MacPhail
    Larry MacPhail
    Leland Stanford "Larry" MacPhail, Sr. was an American lawyer, and an executive and innovator in Major League Baseball.-Biography:...

     Trophy (1966) – given annually in recognition of team promotions.
  • Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award (2008) – given to a person with distinguished service who has been instrumental in player development.
  • Mike Coolbaugh Award
    Mike Coolbaugh Award
    The Mike Coolbaugh Award is presented annually by Minor League Baseball . The award, first given in 2008, is presented to a MiLB figure who has shown an "outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game, and skill in mentoring young players on the field."The award was developed to honor Mike...

    (2008) – given to someone who has shown an outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game, and skill in mentoring young players on the field.

Top 100 teams

During its centennial celebration in 2001, Minor League Baseball compiled a list of the one-hundred best minor-league baseball teams of the century.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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