Triple-A (baseball)

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Triple-A Baseball logo

Triple-A (or Class AAA) is the highest level of play in Minor League Baseball in the United States and Mexico. Before 2008, Triple-A leagues also fielded teams in Canada.[1] A total of 30 teams play in the Triple-A International League (IL) and Pacific Coast League (PCL), with 14 teams in the IL and 16 in the PCL. The MLB-independent Mexican League fields 16 teams. Triple-A teams are typically located in large metropolitan areas that do not have Major League Baseball teams, such as Austin, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Interleague play between the International League and Pacific Coast League occurs twice each season. In July, each league's All-Star team competes in the Triple-A All-Star Game. In September each league's regular season champions play each other in the Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball.

The Triple-A classification was created before the 1946 season. Prior to then, the top level of the minors had been designated as Double-A since 1912. The modern Double-A classification also dates to 1946, when the former Class A1 level was renamed.

Purpose[edit]

Triple-A teams' main purpose is to prepare players for the Major Leagues. ESPN wrote in 2010:[2]

Winning is nice, but secondary. It's much more important for a young prospect like outfielder Xavier Paul to get regular at-bats against lefties, or work on dropping down sacrifice bunts with a runner on first, than it is to take three of four from the Portland Beavers.[2]

Both young players and veterans play for Triple-A teams:

There are the young prospects speeding through the organization on the fastest treadmill, the guys who used to be young prospects who are in danger of topping out in Triple-A, the 30-somethings trying to get back to the majors after an injury or a rough patch, and the guys just playing a few more seasons because someone still wants them and they still want to.[2]

Players on the 40-man roster of a major league team are eligible for promotion to the major league club once the major league roster expands on September 1 (though teams will usually wait until their affiliates' playoff runs are over, should they qualify). For teams in contention for the postseason, these players create the flexibility needed to rest regular starters in late regular-season games. For those not in contention, using such players lets the teams evaluate them under game conditions.

Leagues[edit]

Teams at this level are divided into three leagues: the International League, the Pacific Coast League, and the MLB-independent Mexican League. The Mexican League fields teams throughout Mexico. The International League traditionally fielded teams in the Northeastern United States, and now fields teams in the Midwest and South as well. The Pacific Coast League originally fielded teams on the West Coast, but now fields teams throughout the western part of the United States, as far east as Nashville, Tennessee. For much of the 20th century, the American Association, which consisted of teams in the Midwestern United States, was also at this level, but it disbanded in 1997 and its teams were divided among the IL and PCL. Each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams has an affiliation with one Triple-A team in the United States. However, Mexican Triple-A teams are not included in the organized farm team system.

Current teams[edit]

International League[edit]

Main article: International League
Division Team Founded[A] MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity[B]
North Buffalo Bisons 1985 Toronto Blue Jays Buffalo, New York Coca-Cola Field 16,907
Lehigh Valley IronPigs 2008 Philadelphia Phillies Allentown, Pennsylvania Coca-Cola Park 10,100
Pawtucket Red Sox 1973 Boston Red Sox Pawtucket, Rhode Island McCoy Stadium 10,031
Rochester Red Wings 1899 Minnesota Twins Rochester, New York Frontier Field 13,500
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 1989 New York Yankees Moosic, Pennsylvania PNC Field 10,000
Syracuse Chiefs 1961 Washington Nationals Syracuse, New York NBT Bank Stadium 11,071
South Charlotte Knights 1993 Chicago White Sox Charlotte, North Carolina BB&T Ballpark 10,200
Durham Bulls 1998 Tampa Bay Rays Durham, North Carolina Durham Bulls Athletic Park 10,000
Gwinnett Braves 2009 Atlanta Braves Lawrenceville, Georgia Coolray Field 10,427
Norfolk Tides 1969 Baltimore Orioles Norfolk, Virginia Harbor Park 11,856
West Columbus Clippers 1977 Cleveland Indians Columbus, Ohio Huntington Park 10,100
Indianapolis Indians 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates Indianapolis, Indiana Victory Field 14,230
Louisville Bats 1982 Cincinnati Reds Louisville, Kentucky Louisville Slugger Field 13,131
Toledo Mud Hens 1965 Detroit Tigers Toledo, Ohio Fifth Third Field 10,300
  1. ^ Indicates current IL franchise's first year in current city. Some franchises have prior history in other cities, or had local predecessor franchises at other levels that shared their current name.
  2. ^ Many stadiums have lawn seating; thus, capacity is approximate.

Pacific Coast League[edit]

Main article: Pacific Coast League
American Conference
Division Team Founded MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
Northern Colorado Springs Sky Sox 1988 Milwaukee Brewers Colorado Springs, Colorado Security Service Field 8,500
Iowa Cubs 1969 Chicago Cubs Des Moines, Iowa Principal Park 11,500
Oklahoma City Dodgers 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark 13,066
Omaha Storm Chasers 1969 Kansas City Royals Papillion, Nebraska Werner Park 9,023
Southern Memphis Redbirds 1998 St. Louis Cardinals Memphis, Tennessee AutoZone Park 10,000
Nashville Sounds 1978 Oakland Athletics Nashville, Tennessee First Tennessee Park 10,000
New Orleans Baby Cakes 1993 Miami Marlins Metairie, Louisiana Shrine on Airline 10,000
Round Rock Express 1979 Texas Rangers Round Rock, Texas Dell Diamond 11,000
Pacific Conference
Division Team Founded MLB Affiliation City Stadium Capacity
Northern Fresno Grizzlies 1998 Houston Astros Fresno, California Chukchansi Park 12,500
Reno Aces 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks Reno, Nevada Greater Nevada Field 9,013
Sacramento River Cats 1978 San Francisco Giants West Sacramento, California Raley Field 14,014
Tacoma Rainiers 1960 Seattle Mariners Tacoma, Washington Cheney Stadium 6,500
Southern Albuquerque Isotopes 2003 Colorado Rockies Albuquerque, New Mexico Isotopes Park 13,279
El Paso Chihuahuas 2014 San Diego Padres El Paso, Texas Southwest University Park 9,500
Las Vegas 51s 1919 New York Mets Las Vegas, Nevada Cashman Field 9,334
Salt Lake Bees 1994 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Salt Lake City, Utah Smith's Ballpark 15,411

Mexican League[edit]

Main article: Mexican League
Division Team City Stadium Capacity
North Acereros de Monclova Monclova, Coahuila Monclova 9,000
Broncos de Reynosa Reynosa, Tamaulipas Adolfo López Mateos 7,000
Diablos Rojos del México Iztacalco, Mexico City Nuevo Estadio de Diablos Rojos del México 15,746
Rieleros de Aguascalientes Aguascalientes City, Aguascalientes Alberto Romo Chávez 9,000
Saraperos de Saltillo Saltillo, Coahuila Francisco I. Madero 16,000
Sultanes de Monterrey Monterrey, Nuevo León Monterrey 27,000
Toros de Tijuana Tijuana, Baja California Gasmart 16,811
Vaqueros Laguna Torreón, Coahuila Revolución 8,500
South Delfines del Carmen Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche Resurgimiento 8,200
Guerreros de Oaxaca Oaxaca City, Oaxaca Eduardo Vasconselos 7,200
Leones de Yucatán Mérida, Yucatán Parque Kukulcán Alamo 13,600
Olmecas de Tabasco Villahermosa, Tabasco Centenario 27 de Febrero 10,500
Pericos de Puebla Puebla City, Puebla Hermanos Serdán 12,112
Piratas de Campeche Campeche City, Campeche Nelson Barrera 6,000
Rojos del Águila de Veracruz Veracruz City, Veracruz Universitario Beto Ávila 7,782
Tigres de Quintana Roo Cancún, Quintana Roo Beto Ávila 9,500


Triple-A All-Star Game[edit]

2015 PCL All-Stars meeting on the pitcher's mound

The Triple-A All-Star Game is a single game held between the two affiliated Triple-A leagues—the International League and the Pacific Coast League. Each league fields a team composed of the top players in their respective leagues as voted on by fans, the media, and each club's field manager and general manager.[3] The event has taken place every year since 1988 when the first Triple-A All-Star Game was played in Buffalo, New York. Prior to 1998, a team of American League-affiliated Triple-A All-Stars faced off against a team of National League-affiliated Triple-A All-Stars.

Traditionally, the game has taken place on the day after the mid-summer Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[4] The game is meant to mark a symbolic halfway-point in the season (though not the mathematical halfway-point which, for most seasons, is usually one month prior). Both Triple-A leagues share a common All-Star break, with no regular-season games scheduled for two days before the All-Star Game itself. Some additional events, such as the All-Star Fan Fest and Triple-A Home Run Derby, take place each year close to and during this break in the regular season.[5]

Triple-A Championship[edit]

Since 2006, the annual Triple-A Baseball National Championship Game has been held to serve as a single championship game between the champions of the International League and Pacific Coast League to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball. It was originally held annually at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and known as the Bricktown Showdown.[6] Since 2011, the game has been held in a different Triple-A city each year.[7]

Previous postseason interleague championships include the Junior World Series (1932–34, 1936–62, 1970–71, 1973–74), Triple-A World Series (1983, 1998–2000), and Triple-A Classic (1988–91).

Pitch clock[edit]

As a part of professional baseball's pace-of-game initiatives implemented in 2015, 20-second pitch clocks entered use at Triple-A stadiums in 2015.[8]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ "Lynx are outta here: Team sold, will move to U.S.". www.canada.com. Ottawa Citizen. April 13, 2016. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Shelburne, Ramona (September 1, 2010). "John Lindsey waits for his chance". ESPN. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  3. ^ Wild, Danny (May 30, 2014). "Voting begins for Triple-A All-Star Game". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Omaha Storm Chasers and Werner Park to Host 2015 Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game". Omaha Storm Chasers. Minor League Baseball. March 5, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Durham Lands 2014 Triple-A ASG". Minor League Baseball. February 20, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Bricktown Showdown To Determine Triple-A Baseball Champion" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. July 12, 2006. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  7. ^ Hill, Benjamin (February 8, 2011). "Isotopes to Host Triple-A Championship". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  8. ^ Jackson, Josh (January 15, 2015). "Triple-A, Double-A to Implement Pitch Clock". MILB.com. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 

External links[edit]