Class A (baseball)

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Class A, also known as Low-A and Single-A, is the fourth-highest level of play in Minor League Baseball in the United States, below Triple-A, Double-A, and High-A. There are currently 30 teams classified at the Low-A level, one for each team in Major League Baseball, organized into three leagues: Low-A East, Low-A Southeast, and Low-A West.[1] As part of the 2021 reorganization of the minor leagues, the three current Low-A leagues replaced the South Atlantic League, Florida State League, and California League, respectively, the latter two having been High-A leagues.[2]

History[edit]

Class A was originally the highest level of Minor League Baseball, beginning with the earliest classifications, established circa 1890.[3]:15 Teams within leagues at this level had their players' contracts protected and the players were subject to reserve clauses.[3]:15 When the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues – the formal name of Minor League Baseball – was founded in 1901, Class A remained the highest level, restricted to leagues with cities that had an aggregate population of over a million people.[4][5][6] Entering the 1902 season, the only Class A leagues were the Eastern League and the Western League—both leagues had eight teams, in cities such as Toronto, Ontario; Buffalo, New York; Worcester, Massachusetts; Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; and Peoria, Illinois.[3]:187 Leagues operating within less populated areas were classified as Class B, Class C, or Class D.

Class A would remain the top classification until Class AA was established in 1912. It would remain the second-highest classification until Class A1 was established in 1936. In 1946, the top two levels changed from being Class AA and Class A1 to being Class AAA and AA, with Class A remaining the third-highest level, above Classes B through D. Class A in 1946 consisted of the Eastern League and the original South Atlantic League (or "Sally League"), with teams in communities such as Vancouver, British Columbia; Omaha, Nebraska; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Charlotte, North Carolina; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Allentown, Pennsylvania. Class A would soon include the Western League (1947–1958), Central League (1948–1951) and Western International League (1952–1954). The Western International League became the Class B Northwest League in 1955, and the Western and Central loops folded.

The hierarchy of Triple-A through Class D would continue until Minor League Baseball restructured in 1963, at which time Classes B through D were abolished, with existing leagues at those levels reassigned into Class A, while the Eastern League and South Atlantic League ascended to Double-A.

In 1965, a Class A Short Season designation was created, for teams playing June–September schedules, primarily meant for new players acquired via the amateur draft. The Class A-Advanced designation was established in 1990, between Class A and Double-A in the minor league hierarchy.[7] Class A and Class A Short Season were considered independent classifications, with Class A having "Full-Season" and Advanced sub-classifications, per the rules governing baseball's minor leagues.[8] The overall hierarchy was:

  1. Triple-A
  2. Double-A
  3. Class A-Advanced
  4. Class A ("Full-Season A")
  5. Class A Short Season ("Short-Season A")
  6. Rookie league

Prior to the 2021 season, Major League Baseball restructured the minor leagues, eliminating Class A Short Season, and discontinuing all leagues operating within Minor League Baseball.[9] The existing Class A leagues were replaced with three "Low-A" leagues, while the existing Class A-Advanced leagues were replaced with three "High-A" leagues.[9] The official classification names were updated to Class Low-A and Class High-A, respectively.[10]

Current teams[edit]

Low-A East[edit]

Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
North Delmarva Shorebirds Baltimore Orioles Salisbury, Maryland Arthur W. Perdue Stadium 5,200
Fredericksburg Nationals Washington Nationals Fredericksburg, Virginia FredNats Ballpark 5,000
Lynchburg Hillcats Cleveland Indians Lynchburg, Virginia Bank of the James Stadium 4,000
Salem Red Sox Boston Red Sox Salem, Virginia Salem Memorial Ballpark 6,300
Central Carolina Mudcats Milwaukee Brewers Zebulon, North Carolina Five County Stadium 6,500
Down East Wood Ducks Texas Rangers Kinston, North Carolina Grainger Stadium 4,100
Fayetteville Woodpeckers Houston Astros Fayetteville, North Carolina Segra Stadium 4,786
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers Chicago White Sox Kannapolis, North Carolina Atrium Health Ballpark 4,930
South Augusta GreenJackets Atlanta Braves North Augusta, South Carolina SRP Park 4,000
Charleston RiverDogs Tampa Bay Rays Charleston, South Carolina Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park 6,000
Columbia Fireflies Kansas City Royals Columbia, South Carolina Segra Park 7,501
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Chicago Cubs Myrtle Beach, South Carolina TicketReturn.com Field 4,875

Low-A Southeast[edit]

Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
East Daytona Tortugas Cincinnati Reds Daytona Beach, Florida Jackie Robinson Ballpark 4,200
Jupiter Hammerheads Miami Marlins Jupiter, Florida Roger Dean Stadium 6,871
Palm Beach Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter, Florida Roger Dean Stadium 6,871
St. Lucie Mets New York Mets Port St. Lucie, Florida Clover Park 7,160
West Bradenton Marauders Pittsburgh Pirates Bradenton, Florida LECOM Park 8,500
Clearwater Threshers Philadelphia Phillies Clearwater, Florida BayCare Ballpark 8,500
Dunedin Blue Jays Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin, Florida TD Ballpark 8,500
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels Minnesota Twins Fort Myers, Florida Hammond Stadium 9,300
Lakeland Flying Tigers Detroit Tigers Lakeland, Florida Joker Marchant Stadium 8,500
Tampa Tarpons New York Yankees Tampa, Florida George M. Steinbrenner Field 11,026

Low-A West[edit]

Division Team MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
North Fresno Grizzlies Colorado Rockies Fresno, California Chukchansi Park 10,650
Modesto Nuts Seattle Mariners Modesto, California John Thurman Field 4,000
San Jose Giants San Francisco Giants San Jose, California Excite Ballpark 4,200
Stockton Ports Oakland Athletics Stockton, California Banner Island Ballpark 5,300
South Inland Empire 66ers Los Angeles Angels San Bernardino, California San Manuel Stadium 8,000
Lake Elsinore Storm San Diego Padres Lake Elsinore, California Lake Elsinore Diamond 7,866
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Los Angeles Dodgers Rancho Cucamonga, California LoanMart Field 6,200
Visalia Rawhide Arizona Diamondbacks Visalia, California Valley Strong Ballpark 2,468

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Teams by League and Classification". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  2. ^ Mayo, Jonathan (February 12, 2021). "MLB announces new Minors teams, leagues". MiLB.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball. Lloyd Johnson & Miles Wolff, editors (Third ed.). Baseball America. 2007. ISBN 1932391177.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ "Minor Leagues Form an Agreement For Protection—National and American Left Out". The Davenport Times (Semi-weekly ed.). Davenport, Iowa. September 10, 1901. p. 3. Retrieved April 15, 2021 – via newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Minors Are Organized". The Pittsburgh Press. September 15, 1901. p. 21. Retrieved April 15, 2021 – via newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Minor Leagues Now Independent". The Meriden Daily Journal. Meriden, Connecticut. September 17, 1901. p. 4. Retrieved April 15, 2021 – via newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Cronin, John (2013). "Truth in the Minor League Class Structure: The Case for the Reclassification of the Minors". SABR. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  8. ^ The Official Professional Baseball Rules Book (PDF). New York City: Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. 2019. pp. 158–159. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 31, 2019 – via Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b Creamer, Chris (February 15, 2021). "A Breakdown of Minor League Baseball's Total Realignment for 2021". sportslogos.net. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  10. ^ The Official Professional Baseball Rules Book (PDF). New York City: Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. 2021. p. 10. Retrieved May 1, 2021 – via mlbpa.org.

External links[edit]