It's Official: No Minor League Baseball in 2020
What has been expected for months has now become official: there will be no minor league baseball in 2020.
Put another tally in the win column for COVID-19.
For lack of a better term, this absolutely sucks. Hundreds of minor league players will forego any kind of development through organized baseball this year. In addition, hundreds of prospects that would have normally been drafted in 2020 went undrafted due to Major League Baseball shortening its First Year Player Draft from 40 rounds down to only five.
With the minor league season now officially canceled, any attempt to salvage player development would be a shrewd move for Major League Baseball. Texas Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels has confirmed there have been discussions about development programs for minor leaguers. He's also held out hope that such programs will eventually take place.
"I'm hopeful that there will be some sort of organized player-development program," Daniels said in a conference call earlier this month. "When I say organized I mean that the league will put something together for all 30 clubs. There have been some ideas floated out there. Nothing is set in stone by any stretch."
The Rangers have added 11 of Baseball America's Top-30 prospects to their 60-man player pool for the 2020 MLB season. With only 55 players currently on the roster and several of the players having outs in their contract, there is potential for more to be added to the roster in the coming weeks. This gives a very small percentage of Rangers prospects some sort of consistent work through the end of the regular season.
Anything that MLB or its clubs can possibly conjure up can help so many young players that will miss out on so much this year. The first thing is taking care of them financially. Some major league clubs have committed to pay their minor leaguers their $400 per week stipend through what would have been the end of the minor league season. The Rangers have committed to pay the stipend through at least the end of July, seemingly taking a month-to-month approach given how they have handled the situation over the past few months.
MLB and the Players Association are still working through the finishing touches on the major league season. Once everything is settled, hopefully all attention can go toward putting a development program in place. If the best case scenario plays out, instructional and Fall Leagues will be able to take place in some fashion. Winter ball could be another option for many of these players.
Of course, everything is contingent on how things play out with COVID-19. Arizona and Florida are currently hot spots for COVID-19 and cases are spiking throughout the United States. There are many public health experts that fear a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall, which could derail any chance of instructional or Fall Leagues, maybe even winter ball.
While the cancelation of the minor league season doesn't come as a surprise, it still a dark day for the game of baseball and its future.