We could be getting some sort of minor league baseball this year, but it’s not going to be what we’re used to. The minor league regular season hasn’t been officially cancelled yet, but it’s all but certain that it’s not going to happen. During the season, and it seems that if nothing else – we’re likely to get at least a 50-game season in the Major Leagues in 2020 – there will be some minor leaguers on the “taxi squad” or “practice roster”, whichever you want to call it. Whether they simply practice and have some sort of intrasquad games, or if they will travel with the active roster on the road and potentially play unofficial games against the other team earlier in the day to keep in “game ready shape” is unknown.
But what is starting to feel more likely is that we could be getting some sort of extended or expanded fall league baseball. It’s been reported before that there were at least some thoughts of having some sort of expanded Arizona Fall League and adding a similar league in Florida to take advantage of the complexes there and have more guys playing some baseball. Yesterday at Baseball America, JJ Cooper and Josh Norris reported some new details on how this could all play out. The story is behind their paywall, so I’m not going to share all of the article or what they are reporting – but here’s the biggest take away:
Under a plan being developed, each of the 30 organizations would send a roster of their own prospects to play at spring training sites in both Arizona and Florida. There has been a discussion of even having a second lower level team for each club as well, although nothing has been finalized.
That could be a very interesting scenario where each organization is basically choosing something like 35-70 players from the organization to their complex to play some games later in the summer/fall. The big difference here from a normal fall ball scenario is that there aren’t pitchers who won’t be participating because they reached their innings/workload limit for the year and need the time off to rest, recuperate, and just not put the added stress on their arm.
Ever since the draft signing date was moved up the Arizona Fall League has usually been missing true starting pitching prospects at the higher end level, unless guys missed parts of the season and were making up for lost time. Before the signing date was moved up, guys like Mike Leake who signed in mid-August at the deadline didn’t pitch in their draft year as a minor leaguer and would head to Arizona to throw 25-40 innings in the fall league – but once the draft signing date was placed in early July, signees would usually throw some innings in the regular season and then be shut down for the year.
All of this is simply in the “talking” stage, and nothing is official. How long the season would be, how many players would be there, any and all health plans are unknown at this point.
Updated MLB Draft Rankings
Kiley McDaniel of ESPN has updated his 2020 Major League Baseball Draft rankings. To get the full article you’re going to need to be an ESPN+ subscriber. But if you are a subscriber, you can check out his Top 150 players in the draft here. The top 50 players all have something written about them, while players 51-150 are simply rated and given a future value rating. There’s certainly some differences on his list compared to the one at Baseball America, or Fangraphs, or MLB Pipeline.
Speaking of Baseball America’s draft rankings – they too just updated their Top 500. This will be the final update before the draft next week (June 10th and June 11th). You will need to be a subscriber to their service as well if you want to see their list. There’s been some movement since their last update, too.