Triple-A (baseball)

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Triple-A Baseball logo Triple-A Baseball.png
Triple-A Baseball logo

Triple-A or Class AAA is the highest level of play in Minor League Baseball in the United States and Mexico. Before 2008, Triple-A leagues also fielded teams in Canada. [1] A total of 30 teams play in the Triple-A International League (IL) and Pacific Coast League (PCL), with 14 teams in the IL and 16 in the PCL. The MLB-independent Mexican League fields 16 teams. Triple-A teams are typically located in large metropolitan areas that do not have Major League Baseball teams, such as San Antonio; Austin; Columbus; and Indianapolis.

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

Minor League Baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball (MLB) and provide opportunities for player development and a way to prepare for the major leagues. 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 within the scope of organized baseball. Several leagues, known as independent baseball leagues, do not have any official links to Major League Baseball.

International League Minor League Baseball league of AAA teams operating in the eastern United States

The International League (IL) is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in the eastern United States and is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. Like the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League, it plays at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.

The Pacific Coast League (PCL) 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 grade below Major League Baseball. It is officially named the Pacific Coast League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Inc. Its headquarters are in Round Rock, Texas.

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Interleague play between the International League and Pacific Coast League occurs twice each season. In July, each league's All-Star team competes in the Triple-A All-Star Game. In September each league's regular season champions play each other in the Triple-A National Championship Game to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball.

Triple-A All-Star 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—the International League (IL) and the Pacific Coast League (PCL). Each league fields a team composed of players in their respective leagues as voted on by fans, the media, and each club's field manager, coaches, and general manager. From the inaugural 1988 event through 1997, teams of American League-affiliated Triple-A All-Stars faced off against teams of National League-affiliated Triple-A All-Stars.

Triple-A National Championship Game

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. The championship consists of a single nine-inning game to determine a champion. As the game is usually played at a neutral site, the host league has its team designated as the home team.

The Triple-A classification was created before the 1946 season. Prior to then, the top level of the minors had been designated as Double-A since 1912. The modern Double-A classification also dates to 1946, when the former Class A1 level was renamed.

Double-A (baseball) Minor League Baseball competition level between Class A and Class AAA

Double-A is the second highest level of play in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) in the United States after Triple-A. There are thirty Double-A teams in three leagues at this classification: Eastern League, Southern League, and the Texas League. The modern Double-A classification was created in 1946 with the renaming of Class A1, which then contained the Texas League and the Southern Association. After the Southern Association disbanded in 1961, the Eastern League and the original South Atlantic "Sally" League were bumped up to Double-A in the 1963 minor league reorganization. The SAL changed its name to the Southern League in 1964.

Purpose

Triple-A teams' main purpose is to prepare players for the Major Leagues. ESPN wrote in 2010: [2]

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. [2]

Xavier Paul Major League Baseball outfielder

Xavier Brooks Paul, Jr. is an American former professional baseball outfielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Portland Beavers was the name of separate minor league baseball teams, which represented Portland, Oregon, in the Pacific Coast League (PCL). The team was established in 1903, the first year of the PCL.

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. [2]

Players on the 40-man roster of a major league team are eligible for promotion to the major league club once the major league roster expands on September 1 (though teams will usually wait until their affiliates' playoff runs are over, should they qualify). For teams in contention for the postseason, these players create the flexibility needed to rest regular starters in late regular-season games. For those not in contention, using such players lets the teams evaluate them under game conditions.

Leagues

Teams at this level are divided into three leagues: the International League, the Pacific Coast League, and the MLB-independent Mexican League. The Mexican League fields teams throughout Mexico. The International League traditionally fielded teams in the Northeastern United States, and now fields teams in the Midwest and South as well. The Pacific Coast League originally fielded teams on the West Coast, but now fields teams throughout the western part of the United States, as far east as Nashville, Tennessee. For much of the 20th century, the American Association, which consisted of teams in the Midwestern United States, was also at this level, but it disbanded in 1997 and its teams were divided among the IL and PCL. Each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams has an affiliation with one Triple-A team in the United States. However, Mexican Triple-A teams are not included in the organized farm team system.

Current teams

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Current International League and Pacific Coast League team locations:
  International League
  Pacific Coast League

International League

DivisionTeamFounded [a] MLB AffiliationAffiliatedCityStadiumCapacity [b]
North Buffalo Bisons 1985 Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Buffalo, New York Sahlen Field 16,907
Lehigh Valley IronPigs 2008 Philadelphia Phillies 2007 Allentown, Pennsylvania Coca-Cola Park 10,100
Pawtucket Red Sox 1973 Boston Red Sox 1970 Pawtucket, Rhode Island McCoy Stadium 10,031
Rochester Red Wings 1899 Minnesota Twins 2003 Rochester, New York Frontier Field 10,840
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 1989 New York Yankees 2007 Moosic, Pennsylvania PNC Field 10,000
Syracuse Mets 1961 New York Mets 2019 Syracuse, New York NBT Bank Stadium 11,731
South Charlotte Knights 1993 Chicago White Sox 1999 Charlotte, North Carolina BB&T Ballpark 10,200
Durham Bulls 1998 Tampa Bay Rays 1998 Durham, North Carolina Durham Bulls Athletic Park 10,000
Gwinnett Stripers 2009 Atlanta Braves 1965 Lawrenceville, Georgia Coolray Field 10,427
Norfolk Tides 1969 Baltimore Orioles 2007 Norfolk, Virginia Harbor Park 11,856
West Columbus Clippers 1977 Cleveland Indians 2009 Columbus, Ohio Huntington Park 10,100
Indianapolis Indians 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates 2005 Indianapolis, Indiana Victory Field 14,230
Louisville Bats 1982 Cincinnati Reds 2000 Louisville, Kentucky Louisville Slugger Field 13,131
Toledo Mud Hens 1965 Detroit Tigers 1987 Toledo, Ohio Fifth Third Field 10,300
  • a Indicates current IL franchise's first year in current city. Some franchises have prior history in other cities, or had local predecessor franchises at other levels that shared their current name.
  • b Many stadiums have lawn seating; thus, capacity is approximate.

Pacific Coast League

DivisionTeamFoundedMLB AffiliationAffiliatedCityStadiumCapacity
American
Northern
Iowa Cubs 1969 Chicago Cubs 1981 Des Moines, Iowa Principal Park 11,500
Memphis Redbirds 1998 St. Louis Cardinals 1998 Memphis, Tennessee AutoZone Park 10,000
Nashville Sounds 1978 Texas Rangers 2019 Nashville, Tennessee First Tennessee Park 10,000
Omaha Storm Chasers 1969 Kansas City Royals 1969 Papillion, Nebraska Werner Park 9,023
American
Southern
New Orleans Baby Cakes 1993 Miami Marlins 2009 Metairie, Louisiana Shrine on Airline 10,000
Oklahoma City Dodgers 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers 2015 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark 9,000
Round Rock Express 2000 Houston Astros 2019 Round Rock, Texas Dell Diamond 11,631
San Antonio Missions 1888 Milwaukee Brewers 2019 San Antonio, Texas Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium 9,200
Pacific
Northern
Fresno Grizzlies 1998 Washington Nationals 2019 Fresno, California Chukchansi Park 12,500
Reno Aces 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks 2009 Reno, Nevada Greater Nevada Field 9,013
Sacramento River Cats 2000 San Francisco Giants 2015 West Sacramento, California Raley Field 14,014
Tacoma Rainiers 1960 Seattle Mariners 1995 Tacoma, Washington Cheney Stadium 6,500
Pacific
Southern
Albuquerque Isotopes 2003 Colorado Rockies 2015 Albuquerque, New Mexico Isotopes Park 13,500
El Paso Chihuahuas 2014 San Diego Padres 2014 El Paso, Texas Southwest University Park 9,500
Las Vegas Aviators 1983 Oakland Athletics 2019 Summerlin, Nevada Las Vegas Ballpark 10,000
Salt Lake Bees 1994 Los Angeles Angels 2001 Salt Lake City, Utah Smith's Ballpark 14,511

Mexican League

DivisionTeamCityStadiumCapacityFounded
North Acereros de Monclova Monclova, Coahuila Monclova 8,5001974
Algodoneros de Unión Laguna Torreón, Coahuila Revolución 9,5001940
Generales de Durango Durango, Durango Francisco Villa 4,9832016
Rieleros de Aguascalientes Aguascalientes City, Aguascalientes Alberto Romo Chávez 6,4941975
Saraperos de Saltillo Saltillo, Coahuila Francisco I. Madero 16,0001970
Sultanes de Monterrey Monterrey, Nuevo León Monterrey 22,0611939
Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas
Laredo, Texas
Nuevo Laredo
Uni-Trade
7,555
6,000
1940
Toros de Tijuana Tijuana, Baja California Chevron 17,0002004
South Bravos de León León, Guanajuato Domingo Santana 6,5001978
Diablos Rojos del México Iztacalco, Mexico City Alfredo Harp Helú 20,0001940
Guerreros de Oaxaca Oaxaca City, Oaxaca Eduardo Vasconselos 7,2001996
Leones de Yucatán Mérida, Yucatán Kukulcán Alamo 14,9171954
Olmecas de Tabasco Villahermosa, Tabasco Centenario 27 de Febrero 8,5001975
Pericos de Puebla Puebla City, Puebla Hermanos Serdán 12,1121938
Piratas de Campeche Campeche City, Campeche Nelson Barrera 6,0001980
Tigres de Quintana Roo Cancún, Quintana Roo Beto Ávila 9,5001955

Triple-A All-Star Game

2015 PCL All-Stars meeting on the pitcher's mound 2015 AAA All-Star Game mound.jpg
2015 PCL All-Stars meeting on the pitcher's mound

The Triple-A All-Star Game is a single game held between the two affiliated Triple-A leagues—the International League and the Pacific Coast League. Each league fields 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. [3] The event has taken 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 has taken place on the day after the mid-summer Major League Baseball All-Star Game. [4] The game is meant to mark a symbolic halfway-point in the season (though not the mathematical halfway-point which, for most seasons, is usually one month prior). Both Triple-A leagues share 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, take place each year during this break in the regular season. [5]

Triple-A Championship

Since 2006, the annual Triple-A National Championship Game has been 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. [6] Since 2011, the game has been held in a different Triple-A city each year. [7]

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).

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. [8] 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. [9] Beginning in 2019, the number of mound visits is reduced to five, and pitchers are required to face a minimum of three consecutive batters until the side is retired or the pitcher becomes injured and is unable to continue playing. [10]

Related Research Articles

The Albuquerque Isotopes are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. They are located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and play their home games at Isotopes Park which opened in 2003 and has an elevation exceeding 5,100 feet (1,555 m) above sea level.

American Association (20th century) defunct baseball class-AAA minor league from 1902 to 1962 and 1969 to 1997

The American Association (AA) was a Minor League Baseball league that operated primarily in the Midwestern and South Central United States from 1902 to 1962 and 1969 to 1997. It was classified as a Triple-A league, which is one grade below Major League Baseball.

The Memphis Redbirds are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. They are located in Memphis, Tennessee, and play their home games at AutoZone Park which opened in 2000 and seats 10,000. The team previously played at Tim McCarver Stadium in 1998 and 1999.

Isotopes Park baseball stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Isotopes Park is a minor league baseball stadium located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is the home field of the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League, the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. The facility was also previously used by the baseball program of the University of New Mexico. The stadium will also host New Mexico United, an expansion team in the United Soccer League that will begin play in 2019.

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 entertainment district.

The Omaha Storm Chasers are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) 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 the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. They are located in West Sacramento, California, and play their home games at Raley Field which opened in 2000.

Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark

Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark opened in 1998 in downtown Oklahoma City's Bricktown Entertainment District, replacing All Sports Stadium. It is the home of the Oklahoma City Dodgers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball team. The park has seating for up to 13,066 fans and currently utilizes a seating capacity of 9,000 for Dodgers games.

Smiths Ballpark baseball park in Salt Lake City

Smith's Ballpark is a minor league baseball park in the western United States, located in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is the home field of the Salt Lake Bees of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and the collegiate Utah Utes of the Pac-12 Conference.

The Vancouver Mounties were a high-level minor league baseball club based in Vancouver, British Columbia, that played in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) from 1956–62 and 1965–69. Its home field was Capilano Stadium. During the Mounties' first two seasons, 1956–57, the PCL still was a member of an experimental organized baseball ranking, the Open Classification, as it made a bid for Major League status. However, in 1958 the PCL reverted to Triple-A when the Dodgers and Giants moved to California.

Tony DeFrancesco American baseball player and coach

Anthony John ("Tony") DeFrancesco is manager of the Syracuse Mets, Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets baseball team.

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 won the PCL championship in 2012 and went on to win the Triple-A National Championship Game.

Werner Park

Werner Park is a minor league ballpark near Papillion, Nebraska, a suburb southwest of Omaha. Opened eight years ago in 2011, it is owned by Sarpy County and is the home of the Omaha Storm Chasers of the Pacific Coast League.

The 2015 International League season began on April 9 and culminated on September 7, 2015. Following the regular season, the Governors' Cup playoffs were played from September 9–19, 2015.

References

Notes
  1. "Lynx are outta here: Team sold, will move to U.S." www.canada.com. Ottawa Citizen. April 13, 2016. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 Shelburne, Ramona (September 1, 2010). "John Lindsey waits for his chance". ESPN. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
  3. Wild, Danny (May 30, 2014). "Voting begins for Triple-A All-Star Game". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  4. "Omaha Storm Chasers and Werner Park to Host 2015 Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game". Omaha Storm Chasers. Minor League Baseball. March 5, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  5. "Durham Lands 2014 Triple-A ASG". Minor League Baseball. February 20, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  6. "Bricktown Showdown To Determine Triple-A Baseball Champion" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. July 12, 2006. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  7. Hill, Benjamin (February 8, 2011). "Isotopes to Host Triple-A Championship". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  8. Jackson, Josh (January 15, 2015). "Triple-A, Double-A to Implement Pitch Clock". MILB.com. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  9. "MiLB announces pace-of-play rules for 2018". MILB.com. March 14, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  10. "MiLB announces pace-of-play rules for 2019". MILB.com. March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2019.