For the first time in generations, we endured a summer without affiliated Minor League Baseball. Even when the institution returns in 2021 (pandemic permitting), it will be dramatically changed. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America has reportedly extensively about the MLB-MiLB negotiations this year and the inevitability that dozens of affiliates will lose their player development contracts (PDC) under the new system. Thursday on the Swings and Mishes podcast, Craig Mish described what this may mean for the Marlins.
The new Professional Baseball Agreement—the previous one expired on Sept. 30—will establish “more of a regionalized minor leagues,” according to Mish. He specifies that the Wichita Wind Surge, the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate, have “more than a 50% chance” of switching to a more geographically convenient organization—Wichita and Miami are separated by approximately 1,300 miles, four-plus hours even on a direct flight. Replacing them, the Marlins would make the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp their Triple-A affiliate after 11 seasons in Double-A. Then, an existing southeastern team could fill the Double-A vacancy.
A member of the Pacific Coast League, the Wind Surge were previously located in New Orleans, where they had been a Marlins affiliate since the 2009 season. But two years ago, owner Lou Schwechheimer announced plans to relocate to Wichita, Kansas. Soon after, the team secured public funding for the construction of Riverfront Stadium. The Baby Cakes rebranded as the Wind Surge in November 2019 and even had Marlins prospects model their new uniforms.
The Minor League Baseball season was officially canceled on June 30 due to COVID-19. Schwechheimer passed away one month later.
Marlins affiliates in Clinton, Iowa, and Batavia, New York, were already in jeopardy of being eliminated before the pandemic struck due to revenue and logistical challenges. MLB’s reported interest in geographically aligning affiliates with their respective parent clubs all but assures that Fish prospects won’t be sent there moving forward.
The Marlins own and operate their three other affiliates.