It’s been a long time coming, and the story isn’t completed yet, but at least a part of it is. The Greeneville Reds are no more. Sort of. The town will still have baseball, but it won’t be professional baseball and they also won’t be the Greeneville Reds – ending their affiliation with the Cincinnati Reds as far as a developmental affiliate goes.

MLB released this video to announce the changes that are coming to the league, and it left me with a whole lot of questions.

The league will become a summer wood bat league for college players that will be picked by Team USA as the top players in the country. That’s not a bad outcome. In the video, though, Harold Reynolds makes a ridiculously bold statement that “300 players coming to this league, and of those 300 players, there are probably about 150 of them will someday be in the big leagues” – I literally laughed out loud when I heard that.

Reynolds, in what had to be a script written for him, is suggesting that 50% of the league will reach the Majors. The plan might be to invite the best 300-something freshman and sophomore players in the country, but to buy the idea that half of those guys will go on to play in the Major Leagues is ridiculous. Half of the players in Double-A don’t one day play in the Major Leagues.

But beyond that, there are still a few questions. The Cape Cod League has long been the premiere college baseball league in the summer. That league has a big problem if the Appalachian League is now going to get all of the top talent from the college ranks. And the lesser college wood bat leagues are going to feel the trickle down of that, too.

As one reader pointed out on twitter (I’ll leave his name off of this because I don’t know how he feels about being called out for his contributions), what is the incentive going to be to go play in the new Appy League instead of the Cape Cod League or the Northwoods League? How does Major League Baseball plan to try and sway that talent to this league instead of other leagues if they can’t pay them? Will it simply be them trying to use the whole “we’re MLB partnered” kind of thing? Is the selling point that maybe they can claim “we’ll have more scouts in our league” – one that I can see them suggesting, but one that I can’t buy as being true because the scouts are going to be everywhere that there is a semblance of quality baseball being played.

At this point there’s still a lot of unknown out there for this new league. I’m sure that I’m not the only one with questions. The operators of these franchises probably have a lot more questions than I have – as they should, it’s their true business and they’ve got checks to write to make this all work and remain viable.

From a personal standpoint, I’m going to miss the Reds having an affiliate in Greeneville. The town was just close enough that I could decide the night before that I was going to make the drive to take in a game or a series and it wasn’t a big deal that required a lot of planning. If I really needed to I could make it down there, take in a game, and drive home in the same day (I wouldn’t, but I could have). I made some friends in town over the last few years there. Some of them are still there. Some of them have moved on to bigger and different places.

11 Responses

  1. wutinthehail

    Is there any word how the owner of the franchises (the ones the are being downsized) are being compensated?

    • MikeD

      I believe the Reds owned this particular team? Is the fact that the league is being disbanded driving the Reds to not having an additional Rookie League team? If they so chose could they seek out another league to put a short season team. It only makes sense that if a team wants to invest in a team, they should have the right?

      Great writing Doug!

      • Hoyce

        Hopefully the reds send votto to Greenville before they are get rid of them. He can’t field. Can’t hit. But sure can whine about strike zone.

      • Doug Gray

        Joey Votto posted a 110 OPS+ this year. That makes him a better than league average hitter.

      • Doug Gray

        This particular league was almost entirely owned by the Major League teams the franchise was affiliated with.

        There will no longer be ANY rookie level baseball except in the leagues that are operated out of the spring training complexes (or so that’s the plan MLB is pushing for – and well, really, there’s nothing at all MiLB can do about it). So, no, there’s really not much the Reds or anyone else can do to seek out another short-season league because those leagues simply don’t exist anymore.

        Now, I had seen at one point that teams could choose to try and run two teams out of their complex – some already do. But I also saw where there was some push back from certain (unnamed) organizations to try and make it so that everyone had the exact same number of teams operating – which would seem to indicate that there would only be 1 team per organization operating out of the complex.

        One interesting wrinkle that was out there, and it’s 3am so forgive me for not looking it up, was that at one point I saw that teams could choose to operate a franchise/partner with an outside team. The implication was that perhaps they could have a team in, say, and indy league – I haven’t seen much about that for a while now, but at one point it was something that was out there. With the PBA no longer existing, we don’t really know what all of the rules are until a new one is agreed upon. That kind of leaves us in the dark a bit still.

  2. IMHO

    What a shame that was a beautiful stadium – great people – great employees. They way they put up their rookies in the worst motel was horrendous.

    What happens to those players and coaches?

    If those players/coaches get promoted – do all players /coaches? Do they become so top heavy they just start trading or cutting players at no fault of their own??

    Yes lots of questions i hope we get good answers!

    Thanks again Doug for all your valuable information

    • Doug Gray

      Players (not necessarily the ones that have been in Greeneville) are going to be out of jobs. This contraction is going to reduce overall roster spots in the minors by about 70-80 per organization (including the second rookie level team that everyone is also going to be losing). There will also be two fewer managerial jobs, two fewer hitting coach jobs, two fewer pitching coach jobs. Perhaps there are other “coach” jobs that get created and those jobs don’t go away, they are just shuffled around and say each minor league team gets a “bench coach” or the teams in Double-A/Triple-A get an “assistant pitching/hitting coach”, or something like that. I’m just talking ideas out here with regards to the coaching stuff – I have absolutely no inside information on this.

  3. DaveCT

    I hope there is no drop off in the Cape Cod League. It is truly a premier league, with easy travel, and the environment cannot be beat. My kids grew up going to games, sitting on lawn chairs and blankets, very family friendly, seeing great talent. As close to a perfect setting as I’ve found. Doug, you should make the pilgrimage sometime. FYI, it’s not a Great White Shark breeding and feeding ground, so swimming may or may not be on the agenda.

  4. Indydoug

    My how baseball has changed! A .222 hitter is an above average “hitter”. Perhaps when utilizing OPS, the proper term would be batter because .222 is not above average as a hitter but may be as a batter when walks are factored in.

    • Doug Gray

      It hasn’t changed at all. How we understand it has.

      When we talk about how good a hitter is today we are always talking about more than how many hits they get per at-bat. We are talking about all of the things that they do while they are in the batters box.