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.