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Offishial news, 2/15/21: Marlins affiliate updates; @Marlins

Behold Minor League Baseball’s new affiliate map and listen to our conversation with Marlins right-hander Zach McCambley.

@legendsofdade/Instagram

Offishial Minor League Baseball realignment

For months, we have known that the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and Beloit Snappers were joining the Marlins farm system for 2021, and that the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and Jupiter Hammerheads were moving up and down the MiLB ladder, respectively. Finally, it’s all done. Their professional development licenses have been signed and returned, marking the beginning of 10-year affiliations.

Jacksonville is now in the Southeast division of the Triple-A East league. Pensacola is now in the South division of the Double-A South league. Beloit is now in the West division of the High-A Central league. Jupiter is now in the East division of the Low-A Southeast league.

Minor League Baseball also boasts about the boost to players’ salaries under this revamped system (though most will still earn less than the country’s minimum hourly wage) and improvements to travels and amenities.

Schedules should be announced soon. Baseball America reports an early April start for Triple-A Jacksonville—shortly after MLB Opening Day—and May 4 openers for each of the other full-season affiliates.

@Marlins won’t be the same

Most of you have never heard of Mina Dunn, but you know of her work. And you’re gonna miss it. MLB abruptly fired her on Friday along with the other talented social media coordinators who engaged with fans on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and elsewhere.

It’s an embarrassingly shortsighted decision, as Bleed Cubbie Blue explains. These experts engaged with fans constantly to keep morale high regardless of wins and losses, carefully tailoring messages to drive more traffic toward ticket/merchandise sales and special initiatives. The official team accounts are still active, of course, but devoid of personality.

Moreover, the timing of the purge makes little sense. Even in an increasingly vaccinated society, in-person attendance during 2021 will pale in comparison to what it was in pre-pandemic seasons. So much of the league’s revenue will hinge on appealing to fans online. Eliminating these positions leaves them less prepared to capitalize on that.

Walk-off links

  • Ethan Budowsky and I spoke with right-hander Zach McCambley, Miami’s third-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and the youngest pitcher to receive an invitation to their major league spring training camp. Check out the episode on the Fish Stripes podcast feed or on our YouTube channel.

  • Head over to the Legends of Dade Instagram account to enter their t-shirt giveaway.

Q. With the Marlins in specific, you have them ranked as the second overall system, and we’ve seen the accumulation process over the last few years since Jeter and the ownership group took over. How important do you believe this year is going to be for really starting to see what these top prospects that they have actually are going to be able to bring to the table as they are either in AA, Triple-A, or getting into steady Big League time?

Kiley McDaniel: Yeah, I covered this a little bit in the farm rankings today, but they’re in like a very—I always get told by my editors, you can’t be very unique. I think it’s very unique. Some teams are sort of in this situation and they are very in this situation where they have, I think, perfectly fine like average to a little-above-average veteran players that made the playoffs last year; they are going to try to make the playoffs again and try to stay competitive.

The problem is they have the most like actual prospects on their 40-man roster, and these Miguel Rojas, Jon Berti, Corey Dickerson, Jesus Aguilar. These guys perfectly fine. They are probably not going to help you win a division. They might help you sneak in the playoffs like they did last year with an expanded field.

You have all of these guys, like Braxton Garrett, Trevor Rogers, J.J. Bleday—I’m looking at the list right here—Monte Harrison, Peyton Burdick is coming; Jesus Sanchez is right there. Lewin Diaz in on the 40-man.

These guys are all going to be on the 40-man roster, easy to bring up and send down, sitting in like Triple-A, and a lot of them, like Lewis Brinson, I am not sure he can prove anything else to you in Triple-A. You kind of have to let him play in the Big Leagues and find out if he’s good.

If a rebuilding team like Detroit would just let them play and be terrible and find out that one of these five guys is going to be a star that we’re going to build around, and the other guys are a little more fungible; when you get something better, that’s fine.

That’s the problem they’re having to confront right now, and a lot of these prospects, you’re not going to learn anything about them in the Minor Leagues. They have to play in the Big Leagues. And they have a lot of them.

So I almost think—I wouldn’t say that making the playoff was bad, but making the playoffs has made them sort of raise expectations where they’re going to continue trying to build toward a playoff team. I think the best way to do that would be to get rid of all the veterans, let all the kids play, because they actually have enough kids to do that. They’re not like a bottoming-out Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and I don’t think they’re going to do that.

So the question becomes are you going to have a 40-man crunch, is Monte Harrison going to get better playing once a week in the Big Leagues or playing in Triple-A again where he is physically more talented than everyone else. That’s the problem they have to deal with, because I think they have to get over that hump to actually make the playoffs a couple years in a row, win the division, like be what they’re trying to be.

And I think they had a little too much success with sort of middling, veteran type players to let them feel free to do that.

So I think that’s the real challenge with the system, is these guys have to play in the Big Leagues to get better and sort of accrue value in terms of like a farm ranking, and I’m not sure they’re going to be able to do that.