The Cincinnati Reds have announced their new Minor League Baseball affiliates for the 2021 season. Those affiliates are the same as the old affiliates, at least when it comes to the full-season teams. Cincinnati’s farm system will have the same four teams, but two of them are swapping levels. Here’s the new hierarchy of the Reds farm system;

  • Rookie: Dominican Summer League Reds
  • Rookie: Arizona League Reds
  • Low-A: Daytona Tortugas
  • Advanced-A: Dayton Dragons
  • Double-A: Chattanooga Lookouts
  • Triple-A: Louisville Bats

For the employees of the Daytona Tortugas and Chattanooga Lookouts it’s a good day. While we don’t know how everything would have played out with regards to baseball still being played in those towns, it feels safe to say that remaining in affiliated baseball probably saves more than a few jobs in the organization that may not have been there had the teams had to try and make a go of things as an otherwise independent league baseball team.

For those of you who haven’t quite followed along as closely as some others, let’s go back about 14 months when word leaked that Major League Baseball was trying to push Minor League Baseball from 160 teams to 120 teams – cutting 42 teams in the process, while adding two from independent league baseball circuits. Both the Daytona Tortugas and the Chattanooga Lookouts were on the initial leaked list of teams being cut. We never did see another list like that one, but did hear rumors along the way that the list was never final and that teams had moved off of it (and by the same virtue, onto it).

The Louisville Bats and the Dayton Dragons were never in jeopardy when it comes to losing their minor league affiliation. And for Dayton, there was no chance they were going to be left out of being a Reds affiliate because of their proximity to the organization, Cincinnati controls their right to exist and it’s a tough sell to see a way where they would allow another organization to operate a franchise that close – in theory, stealing fans away from the Reds. Louisville, who has been with the Reds for two decades as their Triple-A affiliate, wasn’t likely to part ways as a Reds affiliate, but it was a possibility.

At the end of the day, for the Cincinnati Reds and for the four teams, they all know what they are getting into as far as the relationship goes. They’ve been there, done that. For the minor league teams, there will be some new stuff, though. As a part of Major League Baseball taking over the minors, there are new standards for ballparks that must be met in order to maintain a license to operate a Minor League Baseball team. All of the standards don’t need to be met immediately, but there is a timetable and a grading system in place.

While it’s expected that nearly all teams in the minors will have to make some upgrades to their facilities, some are going to need to make more than others. It would seem that both Chattanooga and Daytona will be among the teams that need to make the most – which is one reason why both teams were initially on the “cut list”. Daytona secured some backing from their local council to help out with some upgrades earlier this year.

It’s worth noting that today was just step one. Teams were given the license agreements. They do not have to accept them if the terms of that license aren’t to their liking. While we don’t know exactly what will be in those agreements, it’s not expected to be something that would lead to many teams saying no to them. But since no one has actually seen them yet, we can’t be for certain.


10 Responses

  1. Tom

    Pretty nice outcome for the Reds org and it’s fans. I wonder if this will lead to less shuffling long term thus making these the cities and teams the Reds will know for years and years.

    • Doug Gray

      The expectation is that each license will be for 10 years, rather than what’s happened in the past with 2 or 4 year agreements between milb and mlb teams. So there should be some more stability, assuming everyone can stay up to par with the new facility standards.

  2. Troy

    Did Dayton and Daytona flip classifications or is that a misprint?

    • Doug Gray

      They flipped. The Florida State League and the Midwest League have flipped classifications. The FSL is now Low-A, and the MWL is now Advanced-A.

      • Jonathan Linn

        Was that due to the Midwest league having better facilities? or??

      • Doug Gray

        No. It was due to easier travel for most of the FSL teams for promotions to Low-A, who Reds aside, all have the same facility for their complex level rookie team and their Low-A team now.

  3. Bill

    The Daytona Tortugas are proud to be part of the Reds family.

  4. Imo

    What happens to the players? No one ever says are they let go? Do they advance? Would love to know –

    • Doug Gray

      Some players will be let go. There aren’t enough roster spots in the organization to keep everyone.