KC Royals Farm Futures: Potential minor league shakeups
By Shawn Bauman
Inside information about how the minor league alignment may look includes the possibility of more changes for affiliates of the KC Royals.
As noted a few weeks ago, the Burlington Royals’ ties were severed with the KC Royals as the Appalachian League took on a new format. New information shows that another Class A affiliate could be on the line.
A recent report from Ballpark Digest suggests that the South Atlantic League could be reduced to 12 teams, down from the 14 it currently hosts. The Lexington Legends reside in this league and are tied to the Royals at this moment. If the whisperings are true, two of these teams in the Sally League will either be moved to another league or perhaps eliminated.
Lexington has been around since 2001 and joined forces with the Royals beginning in the 2013 season. They were set to defend their back-to-back league championships in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled all of minor league baseball.
Although nothing official has been announced yet, it all but appears the Idaho Falls Chukars will also no longer be in the Royals’ family. The Pioneer League squad also was looking to defend a league title won in 2019 but it appears it will not be given the chance to do so.
Since Idaho Falls is in the short-season Class A group, it’s on the chopping block with Major League Baseball taking over the system.
"There will no longer be rookie and short-season Class A levels. Lower-level players will train in their major league club’s spring training facilities in Arizona or Florida, but scores of paying jobs in the game will be lost. – espn.com"
Recently we provided a history of the Wichita Wranglers who were once the Double A affiliate of the KC Royals. Wichita built a brand new stadium and won the right to be the Triple A club for the Miami Marlins for 2020.
Now they are rumored to be demoted to the Texas League (Double A) before they even had the chance to enjoy their ballpark. They are one of three teams who could be unexpectedly kicked out of the Triple A system; San Antonio and Fresno are the other two.
It is important to note that none of these changes can be confirmed as MLB has not released information yet. Many fans, owners, and people who rely on income from the minor league teams are justifiably concerned and deserve answers very soon.
Whether or not this major change in how the minor leagues are managed is a positive ultimately remains to be seen. Sadly, many towns and fans are dealing with the loss of major league affiliation or being demoted to a lower level. MLB needs to get this right or else this will be another black eye on the sport.