|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2008)|
Short season refers to a form of minor league baseball in which only about 75 games are played each season, as opposed to the typical 140 games for an affiliated minor league team at a higher level. Four leagues play short-season baseball: the New York-Penn League and the Northwest League play at a level designated "Short Season Class A" (a step lower than the formal Class A designation) while the Appalachian or Pioneer Leagues are designated as "Advanced Rookie" (a step higher than the absolute bottom level of minor league baseball, the complex-based Rookie Leagues).
The seasons start in June and end in early September (thus, there are only a few off-days during the season). Teams in Short-Season leagues are generally in small-to-medium-sized cities (Aberdeen, Maryland; Eugene, Oregon; Burlington, Vermont; State College, Pennsylvania; Lowell, Massachusetts; Spokane, Washington), although exceptions exist—one team is in Vancouver (the only Canadian team currently in the affiliated minor leagues), another is in the Seattle suburb of Everett, Washington, and two are in New York City, each affiliated with one of that city's MLB teams.
Twenty-two Major League Baseball clubs field teams in Short Season Class A. The remaining eight clubs field their top short-season teams in the Rookie Advanced leagues. In many instances players drafted out of college will begin their careers at this level, while high-school draftees will more often begin their careers with a Rookie League team.
The late start to the season is designed to allow college players to complete the College World Series, which runs through late-June, before turning professional, give major league teams time to sign their newest draftees, and immediately place them in a competitive league. Players in these leagues are a mixture of newly signed draftees and second-year pros who weren't ready to move on, or for whom there was not space at a higher level to move up. Second-year pros tend to be assigned to extended spring training until the short-season leagues begin.
For many players, this is the first time they have ever used wooden baseball bats, because aluminum bats are most common in the amateur game, as well as the first time they have played every day for a prolonged basis, as amateur competitions typically regulate the number of games played in a week. (These are not always true for those who have played MLB-sanctioned, but amateur, collegiate summer baseball prior to turning professional.) Players are permitted to use certain approved composite bats at this classification, to help them make the transition from aluminum to wood bats.