Proposal Would Eliminate Phillies Minor League Affiliate
Rumors have been swirling for some time that Major League Baseball would be moving to reduce the number of minor league baseball teams in a significant way. With sub-par facilities cited as the reason, the 2020 system of minor league baseball could significantly change. The Phillies will not be exempt from the fallout.
According to the New York Times, 42 teams would be eliminated under a proposal from Major League Baseball. Among those teams reported by the New York Times is the Williamsport Crosscutters, a short-season Class-A Affiliate of the Phillies. In fact, the entire league could be eliminated.
The Phillies have been the parent club of the Crosscutters since 2007, when the affiliate switched from the Batavia Muckdogs.
The Crosscutters play at BT&T Park at Historic Bowman Field. The venue hosts the annual Little League Classic, a game played surrounding the Little League World Series, which is held in Williamsport. The ballpark has been open since 1926, hosting several baseball levels and even an outdoor hockey team.
J.J. Cooper of Baseball America first noted the reason for the change last month.
In MLB’s viewpoint, roughly a quarter of all current MiLB clubs far fall below the level of facilities they view as needed for their minor league players. MLB has essentially put the onus on MiLB to find a way to guarantee those stadiums will all reach what MLB deems as acceptable standards in the near future. If MiLB cannot, then MLB has a proposal to simply reduce the number of affiliated minor league teams going forward to the 75 percent of MiLB clubs that MLB deems capable of meeting their facility needs. MLB would work with MiLB and others to ensure the remaining 25 percent of clubs have baseball teams of some sort, but they would no longer be affiliated MiLB clubs.
The facility itself at Bowman Field is mostly fine; there were substantial upgrades made before the Little League Classic began to bring the field of play up to major league specifications. But with the entire league set to fold, the Crosscutters could be no more.
The proposal would reportedly move the MLB Amateur Draft to August, which would almost eliminate the need for the league. Last year's Phillies first round draft pick, Bryson Stott, played for the Crosscutters last season. The league begins in mid-June and ends in late August or early September.
The other Phillies affiliates would not be touched.