Triple-A East
SportBaseball
Founded2021
No. of teams20
CountryUnited States
Most recent
champion(s)
Durham Bulls (2021)
Most titlesDurham Bulls (1)
ClassificationTriple-A

The Triple-A East is a 20-team Minor League Baseball league that began operating in the United States in 2021. Along with the Triple-A West, it is one of two leagues playing at the Triple-A level, which is one grade below Major League Baseball (MLB). The league was created in 2021 in conjunction with MLB's reorganization of the minor leagues. It is made up of the 14 teams formerly of the Triple-A International League, four teams from the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, one from the Double-A Southern League, and one from the independent American Association of Professional Baseball. The Triple-A East has teams in 14 states stretching from Papillion, Nebraska, to Worcester, Massachusetts, and from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Jacksonville, Florida.

History

CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints of the Triple-A East's Midwest Division
CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints of the Triple-A East's Midwest Division

Prior to the 2021 season, Major League Baseball assumed control of Minor League Baseball in a move to increase player salaries, modernize facility standards, and reduce travel through better geographical alignment.[1] The two existing Triple-A leagues, the International League and Pacific Coast League, were disbanded and replaced with the Triple-A East and Triple-A West.[1][2] Twenty teams were organized into the Triple-A East:[1] the 14 teams of the International League,[3] the four easternmost teams from the Pacific Coast League,[4] one promoted from the Double-A Southern League,[5] and one moving from the independent American Association of Professional Baseball.[6]

Initially, the inaugural 2021 season was scheduled to begin on April 6,[7] but Opening Day was postponed until May 4 to temporarily eliminate commercial air travel and give players the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the season began.[8] The original 142-game schedule was shortened to 120 games with all contests before that date being cancelled.[9][10] While leagues in other classifications held championship playoffs following the conclusion of their seasons,[11] the Triple-A East's inaugural champion was the team with the best regular-season record.[12] The title went to the Durham Bulls with a league best 77–43 record.[13] The 120-game regular season was followed by the Triple-A Final Stretch, a 10-game postseason tournament in which all 30 Triple-A clubs competed for the highest winning percentage over that stretch.[12] Durham won the tournament with a 9–1 record.[14]

Teams played limited opponents in 2021 due to travel restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[15] Some teams played only clubs in their own divisions, while others also played some teams from other divisions.[15][16][17] The 2022 schedule consists mostly of games between division opponents with additional non-division matchups also on the calendar.[18][19]

Structure and season

The league is divided into three divisions: Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast. The Midwest and Southeast Divisions each consist of seven teams, while six teams makeup the Northeast Division.[1] The 2021 season consisted of 120 games scheduled per team divided into series of six games each from Tuesday to Sunday with league-wide off days every Monday.[10][11][15] Ten additional postseason games are being played in two 5-game series from Wednesday to Sunday as part of the Triple-A Final Stretch.[11] The 2021 schedule originally included a three-day All-Star break from July 12–14,[16] but the break was removed after the rescheduling of Opening Day.[10] There were no postseason championship playoffs or the Triple-A National Championship Game, and the league champions were the team with the best record at the season's close.[11][19]

The 2022 season consists of 150 games scheduled per team divided into series of mostly six games each from Tuesday to Sunday with league-wide off days every Monday.[18][20] Exceptions include Monday games on Independence Day and Memorial Day.[21] The 2022 schedule includes a four-day All-Star break from July 18–21, which coincides with the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[19]

Current teams

Division Team Founded MLB Affiliation Affiliated Since City Stadium Capacity
Midwest Columbus Clippers 1977 Cleveland Guardians 2009 Columbus, Ohio Huntington Park 10,100
Indianapolis Indians 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates 2005 Indianapolis, Indiana Victory Field 13,750
Iowa Cubs 1969 Chicago Cubs 1981 Des Moines, Iowa Principal Park 11,500
Louisville Bats 1982 Cincinnati Reds 2000 Louisville, Kentucky Louisville Slugger Field 13,131
Omaha Storm Chasers 1969 Kansas City Royals 1969 Papillion, Nebraska Werner Park 9,023
St. Paul Saints 1993 Minnesota Twins 2021 Saint Paul, Minnesota CHS Field 7,210
Toledo Mud Hens 1965 Detroit Tigers 1987 Toledo, Ohio Fifth Third Field 10,300
Northeast Buffalo Bisons 1979 Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Buffalo, New York Sahlen Field 16,600
Lehigh Valley IronPigs 2008 Philadelphia Phillies 2007 Allentown, Pennsylvania Coca-Cola Park 10,100
Rochester Red Wings 1899 Washington Nationals 2021 Rochester, New York Frontier Field 10,840
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 1989 New York Yankees 2007 Moosic, Pennsylvania PNC Field 10,000
Syracuse Mets 1934 New York Mets 2019 Syracuse, New York NBT Bank Stadium 10,815
Worcester Red Sox 2021 Boston Red Sox 2021 Worcester, Massachusetts Polar Park 9,508
Southeast Charlotte Knights 1976 Chicago White Sox 1999 Charlotte, North Carolina Truist Field 10,200
Durham Bulls 1980 Tampa Bay Rays 1998 Durham, North Carolina Durham Bulls Athletic Park 10,000
Gwinnett Stripers 2009 Atlanta Braves 1965 Lawrenceville, Georgia Coolray Field 10,427
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 1962 Miami Marlins 2021 Jacksonville, Florida 121 Financial Ballpark 11,000
Memphis Redbirds 1998 St. Louis Cardinals 1998 Memphis, Tennessee AutoZone Park 10,000
Nashville Sounds 1978 Milwaukee Brewers 2021 Nashville, Tennessee First Horizon Park 10,000
Norfolk Tides 1961 Baltimore Orioles 2007 Norfolk, Virginia Harbor Park 11,856
Current team locations:
  Midwest Division
  Northeast Division
  Southeast Division

Teams timeline

Former International League teams

PNC Field, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the Triple-A East's Northeast Division
PNC Field, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the Triple-A East's Northeast Division

Fourteen current league teams were placed in the Triple-A East from the Triple-A International League.[3]

One of the former International League teams, the Pawtucket Red Sox, had already planned to relocate prior to the 2021 season.[22] They were also placed in the Triple-A East.

Former Pacific Coast League teams

First Horizon Park, home of the Nashville Sounds of the Triple-A East's Southeast Division
First Horizon Park, home of the Nashville Sounds of the Triple-A East's Southeast Division

Four current league teams were placed in the Triple-A East from the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.[4]

Former Southern League teams

One current league team was placed in the Triple-A East from the Double-A Southern League.[5]

Former American Association teams

One current league team was placed in the Triple-A East from the independent American Association of Professional Baseball.[6]

Champions

Postseason playoffs to determine a league champion in the Triple-A East's inaugural 2021 season were not held. Instead, the team with the best regular-season record was the declared the winner.[12] The title went to the Durham Bulls (77–43; .642), who were 4+12 games ahead of the second-place Buffalo Bisons (71–46; .607).[23]

Champions
Season Team Organization Score Runner-up Organization Ref.
2021 Durham Bulls Tampa Bay Rays Buffalo Bisons Toronto Blue Jays [23]

Awards

Aderlin Rodríguez of the Toledo Mud Hens won the first Triple-A East MVP Award in 2021.
Aderlin Rodríguez of the Toledo Mud Hens won the first Triple-A East MVP Award in 2021.
Bobby Witt Jr. of the Omaha Storm Chasers was league's first Top MLB Prospect in 2021.
Bobby Witt Jr. of the Omaha Storm Chasers was league's first Top MLB Prospect in 2021.

Four awards were presented in the Triple-A East's first season: Most Valuable Player, Pitcher of the Year, Top MLB Prospect, and Manager of the Year.[24]

Most Valuable Player

Most Valuable Player
Season Winner Team Organization Position BA HR RBI Ref.
2021 Aderlin Rodríguez Toledo Mud Hens Detroit Tigers First baseman .290 29 94 [25]

Pitcher of the Year

Pitcher of the Year
Season Winner Team Organization Record ERA SO Ref.
2021 Jackson Kowar Omaha Storm Chasers Kansas City Royals 9–4 3.46 115 [26]

Top MLB Prospect

Top MLB Prospect
Season Winner Team Organization Position BA HR RBI Ref.
2021 Bobby Witt Jr. Omaha Storm Chasers Kansas City Royals Shortstop .285 17 46 [27]

Manager of the Year

Manager of the Year
Season Winner Team Organization Division Finish Record Refs.
2021 Casey Candaele Buffalo Bisons Toronto Blue Jays Northeast 1st 79–47 [28][29]
2021 Brady Williams Durham Bulls Tampa Bay Rays Southeast 1st 86–44 [30][29]

No-hitters

The Triple-A East's first no-hitter occurred on May 9, 2021, the sixth day of its inaugural season, when four Iowa Cubs pitchers combined to no-hit the Indianapolis Indians, 2–0, at Principal Park in Des Moines, Iowa. The feat was accomplished by starting pitcher Shelby Miller, who was making a major league rehab appearance,[31] and relievers Tommy Nance, Brad Wieck, and Ryan Meisinger.[32] A trio of I-Cubs pitchers threw the league's second no-hitter in the first game of a seven-inning doubleheader against the St. Paul Saints on July 11.[33] The league's third no-hitter was thrown ten days later on July 21, when three Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders pitchers combined to no-hit the Rochester Red Wings, 8–0, at PNC Field in Moosic, Pennsylvania.[34] Nearly one month later on August 19, RailRiders pitcher Sean Boyle threw the league's fourth no-hitter in the second game of a seven-inning doubleheader against the Worcester Red Sox, 5–0, at Polar Park in Worcester, Massachusetts.[35]

No-hitters
No. Date Pitcher(s) Team Score BR Opponent Location Ref.
1 May 9, 2021 Shelby Miller (3 IP)
Tommy Nance (3 IP)
Brad Wieck (2 IP)
Ryan Meisinger (1 IP)
Iowa Cubs 2–0 3 Indianapolis Indians Principal Park [36]
2 July 11, 2021 Justin Steele (3.2 IP)
Scott Effross (1.1 IP)
Dillon Maples (2 IP)
Iowa Cubs 1–0 (7) 5 St. Paul Saints Principal Park [37]
3 July 21, 2021 Luis Gil (6 IP)
Reggie McClain (2 IP)
Stephen Ridings (1 IP)
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 8–0 2 Rochester Red Wings PNC Field [38]
4 August 19, 2021 Sean Boyle (7 IP) Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 5–0 (7) 2 Worcester Red Sox Polar Park [39]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Mayo, Jonathan (February 12, 2021). "MLB Announces New Minors Teams, Leagues". Major League Baseball. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  2. ^ Reichard, Kevin (February 12, 2021). "Minor League Baseball Overhaul Unveiled". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "International League (AAA) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Pacific Coast League (AAA) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Southern League (AA) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "American Association (Independent) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  7. ^ Reichard, Kevin (February 18, 2021). "2021 MiLB Schedules Released". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  8. ^ Harrigan, Thomas (March 2, 2021). "Triple-A Start Delayed; Alternate Sites to Return". Major League Baseball. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  9. ^ "Nashville Sounds Announce 2021 Schedule". Nashville Sounds. Minor League Baseball. February 18, 2021. Archived from the original on February 18, 2021. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c "New 2021 Sounds Schedule" (PDF). Nashville Sounds. Minor League Baseball. March 3, 2021. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  11. ^ a b c d Heneghan, Kelsie (July 1, 2021). "Playoffs Return to the Minor Leagues". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c "MiLB Announces 'Triple-A Final Stretch' for 2021". Minor League Baseball. July 14, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  13. ^ Cooper, J.J. (September 20, 2021). "Rays Affiliates Dominate 2021 Minor League Playoff Picture". Baseball America. Retrieved September 24, 2021.
  14. ^ "2021 Triple-A Final Stretch Standings". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  15. ^ a b c "Iowa Announces 2021 Schedule". Iowa Cubs. Minor League Baseball. February 18, 2021. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  16. ^ a b "Bisons Unveil 2021 Playing Schedule, Opening Day Set for April 6 at Sahlen Field". Buffalo Bisons. Minor League Baseball. February 18, 2021. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  17. ^ "Redbirds Announce 2021 Schedule". Memphis Redbirds. Minor League Baseball. February 18, 2021. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Storm Chasers Announce 2022 Schedule". Omaha Storm Chasers. Minor League Baseball. August 18, 2021. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  19. ^ a b c Stanley, John (August 18, 2021). "Tides Announce 2022 Schedule". Norfolk Tides. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  20. ^ Reichard, Kevin (February 3, 2022). "Triple-A Season Extended Six Games by MLB". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  21. ^ "Triple-A Season Extended Six Games by MLB". Nashville Sounds. August 18, 2021. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  22. ^ Chesto, Jon (August 17, 2018). "It's Official: PawSox to Move to Worcester". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  23. ^ a b "2021 Triple-A East Standings". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  24. ^ "Postseason All-Stars". Minor League Baseball. Archived from the original on October 6, 2021. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  25. ^ "Aderlin Rodriguez Minor, Winter, Fall & Japanese Leagues Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  26. ^ "Jackson Kowar College & Minor Leagues Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  27. ^ "Bobby Witt Minor Leagues Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  28. ^ "Casey Candaele Minor & Independent Leagues Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  29. ^ a b "2021 Triple-A East". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  30. ^ "Brady Williams Minor & Independent Leagues Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  31. ^ "Shelby Miller Stats, Fantasy & News". Major League Baseball. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  32. ^ Maun, Tyler (May 9, 2021). "Miller Leads I-Cubs' Combined No-hitter". Major League Baseball. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  33. ^ "I-Cubs Sweep Doubleheader to Split Series Against St. Paul". Iowa Cubs. Minor League Baseball. July 11, 2021. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  34. ^ "No Hits for You!: SWB No-Hits Roc in 8-0 Win". Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Minor League Baseball. July 21, 2021. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  35. ^ "Nightcap No-No: Boyle Throws Seven-Inning No-Hitter". Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Minor League Baseball. August 19, 2021. Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  36. ^ "Indians vs. Cubs Box Score 05/09/21". Minor League Baseball. May 9, 2021. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  37. ^ "Saints vs. Cubs Box Score 07/11/21". Minor League Baseball. July 11, 2021. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  38. ^ "Red Wings vs. RailRiders Box Score 07/21/21". Minor League Baseball. July 21, 2021. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  39. ^ "RailRiders vs. Red Sox Box Score 08/19/21". Minor League Baseball. August 19, 2021. Retrieved August 19, 2021.

Further reading