As we have been anticipating for months, Minor League Baseball president & CEO Pat O’Conner announced Tuesday that there will not be a 2020 MiLB season. Marlins affiliates—the Wichita Wind Surge (Triple-A), Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Double-A), Jupiter Hammerheads (High-A), Clinton LumberKings (Low-A), Batavia Muckdogs (Short Season A), Gulf Coast League Marlins (Rookie) and Dominican Summer League Marlins (Foreign Rookie)—won’t be provided with players to use in official games.
In 2019, the seven Fish affiliates combined for a .504 winning percentage, the organization’s best mark since 2012.
This was supposed to be the first season for the Wind Surge in their newly constructed downtown ballpark. The club was previously located in New Orleans.
“The news that we will not have Jumbo Shrimp baseball at 121 Financial Ballpark is devastating,” Jumbo Shrimp owner/CEO Ken Babby said in a statement. “While we are disappointed there will be no Jumbo Shrimp baseball in 2020, we are looking forward to the many socially-distanced and safe events that continue to bring Affordable Family Fun to our community.”
Clinton, Iowa, and Batavia, New York, have each hosted affiliates for generations. The next few months will be an anxious period for those communities as MiLB and Major League Baseball negotiate a new Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA). It’s inevitable that there will be a reduction in the total number of affiliates—those in the most rural areas with sub-standard facilities and amenities are especially vulnerable. Clinton and Batavia were reported to be on a contraction list earlier in the negotiating process, but the latest update from Baseball America (subscription required) describes that list as “fluid.”
The Marlins have included dozens of top prospects in their initial 60-man player pool for the season. Realistically, though, considering the schedule’s abbreviated length and the experienced players ahead of them on the depth chart, most will not have the opportunity to participate in MLB games.
At least 41 Marlins players were released earlier this month, ranging from teenagers without any official career stats to several MiLB veterans who had ascended all the way to Triple-A, tantalizingly close to realizing their career goals.
In the coming days, we expect president of baseball operations Michael Hill to elaborate further on how players outside of the club’s pool will train this summer, salvaging something from a lost year of development. BA reports that all affiliated minor leaguers have been given the option to latch on with independent leagues.
This Fish Stripes playlist contains 2019 prospect highlights from New Orleans, Jacksonville, Jupiter, Clinton and Batavia.