Triple-A (baseball)

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Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies Cokepark allentown.jpg
Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies

Triple-A (officially Class AAA [1] ) has been the highest level of play in Minor League Baseball in the United States since 1946. Currently, two leagues operate at the Triple-A level, the International League (IL) and the Pacific Coast League (PCL). There are 30 teams, one per each Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise, with 20 in the IL and 10 in the PCL. Triple-A teams are located in smaller cities as well as larger metropolitan areas without MLB teams, such as Austin, Jacksonville, Columbus, and Charlotte.

Contents

All current Triple-A teams are located in the United States; before 2008, some Triple-A leagues also fielded teams in Canada, [2] and from 1967 to 2020 the Mexican League was classified as Triple-A. Other than the current two Triple-A leagues, only three other leagues have ever held the classification.

History

Jackie Robinson, then with the Triple-A Montreal Royals, July 1946 Baseball. Jack Robinson BAnQ P48S1P12829.jpg
Jackie Robinson, then with the Triple-A Montreal Royals, July 1946

Prior to 1946, the top level of Minor League Baseball was Double-A, which had been established in 1912. [3] [4] :236 The Triple-A classification was created before the 1946 season, and began with all three leagues then in Double-A moving up to the new level: [4] :15

This structure persisted for the next 75 years with only a few changes:

The IL, PCL, and Mexican League continued as Triple-A leagues until Major League Baseball (MLB) reorganized the minor leagues prior to the 2021 season. At that time, the IL and PCL were temporarily renamed Triple-A East and Triple-A West, respectively. The Mexican League continues to operate, independently. Following MLB's acquisition of the rights to the names of the historical minor leagues, MLB announced on March 16, 2022, that the leagues would once again be called the International League and the Pacific Coast League, effective with the 2022 season. [6]

Countries

While all current and the majority of past Triple-A teams have been located in the United States, Triple-A teams have also been based in: [4] :104–106

Purpose

Players with the Nashville Sounds, the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, August 2019 Nashville Sounds in Omaha Aug 29, 2019.jpg
Players with the Nashville Sounds, the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, August 2019

Triple-A teams' main purpose is to prepare players for the Major Leagues. ESPN wrote in 2010: [7]

Winning is nice, but secondary. It's much more important for a young prospect like outfielder Xavier Paul to get regular at-bats against lefties, or work on dropping down sacrifice bunts with a runner on first, than it is to take three of four from the Portland Beavers. [7]

Both young players and veterans play for Triple-A teams:

There are the young prospects speeding through the organization on the fastest treadmill, the guys who used to be young prospects who are in danger of topping out in Triple-A, the 30-somethings trying to get back to the majors after an injury or a rough patch, and the guys just playing a few more seasons because someone still wants them and they still want to. [7]

Most, if not all, of the players on an MLB team's expanded roster who are not currently on the team's active roster are assigned to the team's Triple-A club. Expanded rosters consist of 40 players, while active rosters generally consist of 26 players as of the 2021 season. Most Triple-A teams are near their MLB parent club, as activating a Triple-A player as an injury replacement is a common occurrence.

The term "AAAA player," pronounced "four-A" or "quadruple-A," refers to a player who succeeds when playing for Triple-A teams and who is not successful at the Major League level. The term is usually used derisively and has itself been criticized as flawed. [8] [9] Major League team executives and managers disagree whether AAAA players exist. [10]

Leagues

Teams at this level are divided into two leagues: The International League and the Pacific Coast League. The International League fields teams primarily in the Eastern United States, while the Pacific Coast League fields teams mostly in the Western United States. Each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams has an affiliation with one Triple-A team in the United States.

Current teams

Usa edcp location map.svg
Current Triple-A team locations:
  International League
  Pacific Coast League

International League

DivisionTeamFoundedMLB AffiliationAffiliated SinceCityStadiumCapacity
East Buffalo Bisons 1979 Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Buffalo, New York Sahlen Field 16,600
Charlotte Knights 1976 Chicago White Sox 1999 Charlotte, North Carolina Truist Field 10,200
Durham Bulls 1980 Tampa Bay Rays 1998 Durham, North Carolina Durham Bulls Athletic Park 10,000
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 1962 Miami Marlins 2021 Jacksonville, Florida 121 Financial Ballpark 11,000
Lehigh Valley IronPigs 2008 Philadelphia Phillies 2007 Allentown, Pennsylvania Coca-Cola Park 10,100
Norfolk Tides 1961 Baltimore Orioles 2007 Norfolk, Virginia Harbor Park 11,856
Rochester Red Wings 1899 Washington Nationals 2021 Rochester, New York Frontier Field 10,840
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 1989 New York Yankees 2007 Moosic, Pennsylvania PNC Field 10,000
Syracuse Mets 1934 New York Mets 2019 Syracuse, New York NBT Bank Stadium 10,815
Worcester Red Sox 2021 Boston Red Sox 2021 Worcester, Massachusetts Polar Park 9,508
West Columbus Clippers 1977 Cleveland Guardians 2009 Columbus, Ohio Huntington Park 10,100
Gwinnett Stripers 2009 Atlanta Braves 2009 Lawrenceville, Georgia Coolray Field 10,427
Indianapolis Indians 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates 2005 Indianapolis, Indiana Victory Field 13,750
Iowa Cubs 1969 Chicago Cubs 1981 Des Moines, Iowa Principal Park 11,500
Louisville Bats 1982 Cincinnati Reds 2000 Louisville, Kentucky Louisville Slugger Field 13,131
Memphis Redbirds 1998 St. Louis Cardinals 1998 Memphis, Tennessee AutoZone Park 10,000
Nashville Sounds 1978 Milwaukee Brewers 2021 Nashville, Tennessee First Horizon Park 10,000
Omaha Storm Chasers 1969 Kansas City Royals 1969 Papillion, Nebraska Werner Park 9,023
St. Paul Saints 1993 Minnesota Twins 2021 Saint Paul, Minnesota CHS Field 7,210
Toledo Mud Hens 1965 Detroit Tigers 1987 Toledo, Ohio Fifth Third Field 10,300

Pacific Coast League

DivisionTeamFoundedMLB AffiliationAffiliated SinceCityStadiumCapacity
East Albuquerque Isotopes 2003 Colorado Rockies 2015 Albuquerque, New Mexico Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park 13,500
El Paso Chihuahuas 2014 San Diego Padres 2014 El Paso, Texas Southwest University Park 9,500
Oklahoma City Dodgers 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers 2015 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark 9,000
Round Rock Express 2000 Texas Rangers 2021 Round Rock, Texas Dell Diamond 11,631
Sugar Land Space Cowboys 2012 Houston Astros 2021 Sugar Land, Texas Constellation Field 7,500
West Las Vegas Aviators 1983 Oakland Athletics 2019 Summerlin South, Nevada Las Vegas Ballpark 10,000
Reno Aces 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks 2009 Reno, Nevada Greater Nevada Field 9,013
Sacramento River Cats 2000 San Francisco Giants 2015 West Sacramento, California Sutter Health Park 14,014
Salt Lake Bees 1994 Los Angeles Angels 2001 Salt Lake City, Utah Smith's Ballpark 14,511
Tacoma Rainiers 1960 Seattle Mariners 1995 Tacoma, Washington Cheney Stadium 6,500

Triple-A All-Star Game

Pacific Coast League Triple-A All-Stars, July 2015 2015 AAA All-Star Game mound.jpg
Pacific Coast League Triple-A All-Stars, July 2015

The Triple-A All-Star Game was a single game held between the two affiliated Triple-A leagues—the International League and the Pacific Coast League. Each league fielded a team composed of the top players in their respective leagues as voted on by fans, the media, and each club's field manager and general manager. [11] The event took place every year since 1988 when the first Triple-A All-Star Game was played in Buffalo, New York. Prior to 1998, a team of American League-affiliated Triple-A All-Stars faced off against a team of National League-affiliated Triple-A All-Stars.

Traditionally, the game was held on the day after the mid-summer Major League Baseball All-Star Game. [12] Such games mark a symbolic halfway-point in the season, despite occurring later than the actual halfway-point of most seasons. Both Triple-A leagues shared a common All-Star break, with no regular-season games scheduled for two days before the All-Star Game itself. Some additional events, such as the All-Star Fan Fest and Triple-A Home Run Derby, were held each year during this break in the regular season. [13]

While the 2021 schedule originally included a three-day All-Star break of July 12–14, [14] this was removed after Opening Day was pushed back one month. [15] Team schedules for the 2021 season were subsequently issued without an All-Star break. [16]

Triple-A Championship

Beginning in 2006, the annual Triple-A National Championship Game was held to serve as a single championship game between the champions of the International League and Pacific Coast League to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball. It was originally held annually at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, and known as the Bricktown Showdown. [17] Starting in 2011, the game was held in a different Triple-A city each year. [18] Previous postseason interleague championships include the Junior World Series (1932–34, 1936–62, 1970–71, 1973–74), Triple-A World Series (1983, 1998–2000), and Triple-A Classic (1988–91).

For the 2021 season, in place of the National Championship Game, Minor League Baseball extended the Triple-A regular season to October 3, [19] with league champions determined based on regular-season records through the original end date of the season (September 19 for Triple-A East, and September 21 for Triple-A West). [20] The final 10 games of the season, played after those dates, were deemed the "Final Stretch", with the team posting the best winning percentage during that period (the Durham Bulls, who went 9–1) winning a cash prize. [20] [21] It is uncertain when or if the National Championship Game will resume.

Pace-of-play initiatives

As a part of professional baseball's pace of play initiatives implemented in 2015, 20-second pitch clocks entered use at Triple-A stadiums in 2015. [22] In 2018, the time was shortened to 15 seconds when no runners are on base. Other significant changes implemented in 2018 included beginning extra innings with a runner on second base and limiting teams to six mound visits during a nine-inning game. [23] For the 2019 season, the number of mound visits was reduced to five, and pitchers were required to face a minimum of three consecutive batters unless the side is retired or the pitcher becomes injured and is unable to continue playing. [24]

Related Research Articles

The Pacific Coast League (PCL) is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in the Western United States. Along with the International League, it is one of two leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one grade below Major League Baseball (MLB).

Albuquerque Isotopes Minor League Baseball team

The Albuquerque Isotopes are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League and the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. They play home games at Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at an elevation of 5,100 feet (1,555 m) above sea level.

Round Rock Express Minor League Baseball team

The Round Rock Express are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. They are located in Round Rock, Texas, and play their home games at the Dell Diamond. The team is named for Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, who was nicknamed "The Ryan Express." Ryan, along with son Reid Ryan and Don Sanders make up the team's ownership group, Ryan Sanders Baseball.

Memphis Redbirds Minor League Baseball team

The Memphis Redbirds are a Minor League Baseball team of the International League and the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. They are located in Memphis, Tennessee, and are named for their Major League Baseball affiliate. The Redbirds play their home games at AutoZone Park, which opened in 2000 and is located in Downtown Memphis. The team previously played at Tim McCarver Stadium in 1998 and 1999.

Fresno Grizzlies Minor League Baseball team

The Fresno Grizzlies are a Minor League Baseball team of the California League and the Single-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. They are located in Fresno, California, and play their home games at Chukchansi Park, which opened in 2002. They previously played at Pete Beiden Field from 1998 to 2001.

Oklahoma City Dodgers Minor League Baseball team

The Oklahoma City Dodgers are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They are located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and play their home games at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, which opened in 1998 in the city's Bricktown district.

Omaha Storm Chasers Minor League Baseball team

The Omaha Storm Chasers are a Minor League Baseball team of the International League and the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. They are located in Papillion, Nebraska, a suburb southwest of Omaha, and play their home games at Werner Park which opened in 2011. The team previously played at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, home to the College World Series, from 1969 to 2010.

Sacramento River Cats Minor League Baseball team

The Sacramento River Cats are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and are the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Prior to 2015, the River Cats were the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics for 15 years. They are based in West Sacramento, California, and play their home games at Sutter Health Park which opened in 2000 and was known as Raley Field through 2019.

International League US professional baseball league

The International League (IL) is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in the United States. Along with the Pacific Coast League, it is one of two leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one grade below Major League Baseball (MLB).

Triple-A National Championship Game Single contest to determine a champion for the Triple-A classification in Minor League Baseball

The Triple-A National Championship Game, previously known as the Bricktown Showdown, is a single championship game held annually between the league champions of the International League (IL) and Pacific Coast League (PCL) affiliated Triple-A leagues of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) to determine an overall champion of the classification. With the exceptions of 2020 and 2021, the game has been held at the end of each season since 2006.

Triple-A All-Star Game Annual baseball game

The Triple-A All-Star Game is an annual baseball game sanctioned by Minor League Baseball between professional players from the two affiliated Triple-A leagues. When last held in 2019, these leagues were the International League (IL) and Pacific Coast League (PCL). In conjunction with Major League Baseball's restructuring of Minor League Baseball in 2021, these leagues disbanded, and Triple-A teams were reorganized into the Triple-A East and Triple-A West. There was no Triple-A All-Star Game scheduled for 2021 nor has there been any announcement about it resuming in the future.

Reno Aces Minor League Baseball team

The Reno Aces are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. They are located in Reno, Nevada, and play their home games at Greater Nevada Field, which opened in 2009. The Aces have been members of the PCL since 2009, including the 2021 season in which it was known as the Triple-A West. They won the PCL championship in 2012 and went on to win the Triple-A National Championship Game.

Double-A (baseball) Second-highest level of competition in Minor League Baseball

Double-A is the second-highest level of play in Minor League Baseball in the United States since 1946, below only Triple-A. There are currently 30 teams classified at the Double-A level, one for each team in Major League Baseball, organized into three leagues: the Eastern League, the Southern League, and the Texas League.

Manny Bañuelos Mexican baseball pitcher

Manuel Bañuelos is a Mexican professional baseball pitcher in the New York Yankees organization. He previously played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox, and in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) for the Fubon Guardians.

The Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) is an annual award given to the best player in Minor League Baseball's Pacific Coast League (PCL) based on their regular season performance. Though the league was established in 1903, the award was not created until 1927. Managers from the 10 Pacific Coast League teams vote for the winner of the award, which is then combined with 10 votes from various general managers, broadcasters, and media representatives around the league to determine a winner. The award was formerly voted upon by writers from The Sporting News.

Bryce Brentz American baseball player

Bryce Everett Brentz is an American professional baseball left fielder for the Kane County Cougars of the American Association of Professional Baseball. He has played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Boston Red Sox. During the 2014 and 2016 seasons, he appeared in a total of 34 MLB games with Boston. He bats and throws right-handed, and is listed at 6 feet 0 inches (1.83 m) and 215 pounds (98 kg).

Chad Tracy (baseball, born 1985)

Chad Samuel Tracy is an American professional baseball manager and former player. He is currently the manager of the Worcester Red Sox. He played college baseball at Pepperdine University then played professionally from 2006 to 2014, primarily as a first baseman. He also competed for the United States national baseball team.

El Paso Chihuahuas Minor League Baseball team

The El Paso Chihuahuas are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. They are located in El Paso, Texas, and play their home games at Southwest University Park, which opened in 2014. The Chihuahuas moved to El Paso from Tucson, Arizona, where they were known as the Tucson Padres. They played in the PCL until the 2021 restructuring of the minor leagues when they shifted to the Triple-A West, but this league was renamed the PCL in 2022. The Chihuahuas won the PCL championship in 2016.

Zach Borenstein American baseball player

Zachary Borenstein is an American professional left-handed-hitting baseball outfielder who is currently a free agent.

Minor League Baseball Hierarchy of professional baseball leagues affiliated with Major League Baseball

Minor League Baseball (MiLB) refers to professional baseball below Major League Baseball (MLB), including teams affiliated with MLB clubs and independent baseball leagues consisting of teams with no affiliation.

References

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