Not a shocker in the least, but Baseball America is the first to break in detail that the MiLB season is, officially, off.
It’s not a shock, and teams have already been making attempts to be resourceful and open up their parks to alternate revenue streams. The Pensacola Blue Wahoos put their ballpark on Airbnb for rental, and at South Side Hit Pen Jake Mastroianni wrote about his Father’s Day experience at Birmingham’s Regions Field.
None of the White Sox affiliates are close enough to Chicago to serve as alternate player training sites, and if there is some sort of extended Fall League or simple workouts at team complexes for players who don’t make the 60-man roster cut, it won’t be any time soon — Arizona (in the White Sox and 14 other teams’ case) and Florida (the other half of MLB) are currently ravaged with COVID cases and are, simply, unfit for training.
(The NBA’s plan for “bubble play” in Orlando, of all places, is looking extremely shaky given the fact that more than 5% of players have already tested positive for coronavirus.)
So, what are next steps for lower-level minor leaguers? Winter ball, perhaps, but with that comes incredible hazards, including the fact that, as of now, foreign countries may bar American players from entry into their countries, or quarantine them once there. Minor leaguers are allowed to play in independent leagues, but there aren’t many of them active this season (the American Association, including the Chicago Dogs, are planning to play, and with fans).
Beyond development, White Sox minor leaguers as of this moment will also have to wonder whether they will be paid as members of the organization after today; the team has yet to commit the $400/month its players would be getting in July and August.
In the case of one White Sox affiliate, as Baseball America acknowledges, the story gets even sadder — yeah, beyond a global pandemic. The Great Falls Voyagers, part of a Pioneer League that already expected to be eliminated from official MiLB/MLB affiliation after this season, now has been prevented from celebrating or acknowledging any sort of “farewell” campaign. (Great Falls, if it continues, would be thrown into the mix of “summer ball” independent leagues, a la the Midwest-based American Association.)
And, in the category of burying the lede, here’s the official word: