All three Alabama minor league baseball teams have accepted invitations to join a new system restructured by Major League Baseball.
It’s an expected decision from the Birmingham, Madison and Montgomery teams made official on Friday with an MLB ad. The announcement did not include any information about fan plans in the stands this season.
The Birmingham Barons, Rocket City Trash Pandas and Montgomery Biscuits will continue to compete in the same league along with five other familiar rivals in what is now known as Double-A South – formerly the Southern League. The league will include teams from Chattanooga, Pensacola, Biloxi, Kodak, Tennessee (near Knoxville) and Pearl, Mississippi (near Jackson).
The Barons and Trash Pandas will be in the North Division with Chattanooga and the Tennessee Smokies at Kodak. The Biscuits will be in the South Division with Pensacola, Biloxi and the Mississippi Braves at Pearl.
All three teams were among 120 national teams in December to receive MLB invitations to become Professional Development League licensees. Each invited team accepted, the MLB said. As part of the restructuring, 40 minor league teams were not invited.
A former Southern League team, located in Jackson, Tenn., Did not receive an invitation. Another Southern League team, located in Jacksonville, Florida, became an AAA team during the restructuring.
All three Alabama teams will maintain their MLB affiliations: the Barons with the Chicago White Sox, the Trash Pandas with the Los Angeles Angels, and the Biscuits with the Tampa Bay Rays. Each affiliation agreement is for a period of 10 years.
With the revamped minor league system finalizing, teams will be able to move forward with developing plans for the upcoming season.
“We are delighted to continue our strong relationship as members of the Angels family,” said Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph Nelson in the team announcement. “We can’t wait to finally bring professional baseball back to Northern Alabama in 2021. We’ve been working for over three years on developing a unique fan experience at Toyota Field, and we’re thrilled to be a part of. the Los Angeles Angels Elite Player Development System.
Biscuits CEO and owner Lou DiBella has anticipated when fans can return to the stands.
“I am delighted to have signed our PDL and look forward to working more closely with MLB in an exciting new era for your Montgomery cookies,” DiBella said in a statement. “We’re excited to extend our long-standing relationship with the Tampa Bay Rays and continue to bring the next wave of Major League players to Montgomery.
“The wait has been long and we are delighted to approach the day when we can welcome Biscuits fans back to Riverwalk Stadium. ”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in the announcement that he had “modernized” the minor league system to prioritize “the qualities that make minor leagues an integral part of our game while strengthening the whose professional athletes we develop on and off the field “.
This restructuring included moving some minor league teams closer to their parent club affiliates, although this did not affect the three Alabama teams. MLB also said the changes ensured better facilities and working conditions for players as well as increased salaries for players. MLB has also touted reduced travel for players and coaches.
“We are delighted to unveil this new model, which not only provides a pipeline to Majors, but continues the minor league tradition of entertaining millions of families in hundreds of communities,” said Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. “We look forward to demonstrating the best of our game in local communities, supporting all those working hard to grow the sport, and sharing unparalleled technology and resources with minor league teams and players. “
Updated today, February 12, 2021, 3:42 p.m. with the Biscuits declaration.