It was a move that was widely expected for some time and now it’s official. The 2020 Minor League Baseball season has been canceled, per a release.
“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played,” said Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O’Conner. “While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”
For the White Sox, this means their affiliates – the Charlotte Knights (Triple-A), Birmingham Barons (Double-A), Winston-Salem Dash (High-A), Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (Low-A), Great Falls Voyagers (Advanced Rookie League), and AZL White Sox (Rookie League) – will all host empty stadiums this summer. It’s an incredibly unfortunate result of the current pandemic that now leaves dozens of players in the system losing a year of development on top of all the other hardships that will ensue for both them and the employees of each team.
The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, who recently rebranded from the Intimidators, were one of the clubs in the system especially excited for the 2020 season. With an entirely new look and stadium to go with it, their inaugural season will now have to wait.
“While it is very disappointing to not have the Cannon Ballers play this season, the health of our fans is our top priority,” said Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant. “From the beginning we wanted the ballpark to be a ‘public park’ and used every day. We are glad people are out enjoying it. Seeing so many people using the stadium to walk around, safely meet up with friends, and even grab an affordable sandwich has been gratifying. It’s not exactly what we envisioned but the result – an active, thriving downtown – is the same. We look forward to having smaller scale activities this year and we cannot wait for the Cannon Ballers 2021 season.”
Aside from massive revenue losses and eventual furloughs across the league, there is still a giant question mark surrounding teams in the rookie-level Appalachian and Pioneer Leagues. As pointed out today by Baseball America’s JJ Cooper and Josh Norris, assuming Major League Baseball adopts a plan to ax over 40 teams, the 2019 season would mark the last for the Great Falls Voyagers as an advanced-rookie affiliate for the Chicago White Sox.
Amidst all of this chaos, the Sox organization does deserve credit when it comes to paying those down on the farm. They continued the $400-per week stipends instituted in by Major League Baseball on March 31st, through at least the end of June. There’s been no official word yet on whether or not that will continue into July and August, but other clubs around baseball have already announced their commitment through the end of what would’ve been the minor league season – leading me to believe the White Sox will follow suit.
There’s a lot that remains to be sorted out before players return for the 2021 MiLB season. In the meantime, some guys may have the opportunity to play this fall in Arizona, although even that seems to be an uncertainty now due to the current state of the pandemic. The only thing we can ask from all of you reading this is to please consider supporting your local minor league team through community events during these trying times.
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Featured Photo: Charlotte Knights/Twitter