Updates on spring training and Minor League Baseball schedules originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Minor League Baseball's schedule will be affected for the second straight year. MLB sent a memo to teams on Monday informing them that the Single A and Double A seasons will be delayed, according to Baseball America.
To properly social distance players during spring training, teams will stagger the report dates, with players at the Single A and Double A levels reporting once spring training has concluded for players at the two levels above. The expectation as of now is that major-league camp will begin on time and that many minor-leaguers will not report until late March or early April.
With the delay, the regular seasons at Single A and Double A may not begin until May. MLB's memo told teams to expect those seasons to run about a month longer than usual, through October 3. For reference, the most recent Eastern League Championship series (2019) ended on September 13. There will likely not be minor-league playoffs this year.
The minor leagues have been revamped heading into 2021 with MLB inviting 120 teams total. Each team will have four affiliates: Triple A, Double A, High A and Low A. Gone are the Rookie-ball and Short-Season Class A teams.
While many prospects participated at satellite camps this past summer, there is no substitute for live, in-game reps against an opponent trying his hardest to get you out. It resulted in stalled development time for players who didn't play in the majors in 2020. For example, the Phillies' 2019 first-round pick, Bryson Stott, was drafted over 18 months ago and hasn't yet played a game with Single A Lakewood or Clearwater. He's one of hundreds of examples. Teams couldn't gain valuable information about key young players because of the circumstances.
An interesting scheduling nugget from Baseball America:
"Minor league teams also learned that MLB is looking at adopting a six-days on and one-day off schedule for 2021, under which leagues would have a set off-day once a week. Such a move would reduce travel significantly — for Triple A teams, going from three- and four-day trips to six days could nearly halve airline travel costs. Teams would either host a team for six days or be on the road at one site for six days, then have one off day every week to travel before playing a six-game stint against their next opponent."