Triple-A (baseball)

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Triple-A Baseball logo

Triple-A (or Class AAA) is the highest level of play in Minor League Baseball in the United States and Mexico. Before 2008, Triple-A leagues also fielded teams in Canada.[1] A total of 30 teams play in the Triple-A International League (IL) and Pacific Coast League (PCL), with 14 teams in the IL and 16 in the PCL. The MLB-independent Mexican League fields 16 teams. Triple-A teams are typically located in large metropolitan areas that do not have Major League Baseball teams, such as Austin, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Interleague play between the International League and Pacific Coast League occurs twice each season; in July, each league's All-Star team competes in the Triple-A All-Star Game. In September each league's regular season champions play each other in the Triple-A National Championship Game to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball.

The Triple-A classification was created before the 1946 season. Prior to then, the top level of the minors had been designated as Double-A since 1912, the modern Double-A classification also dates to 1946, when the former Class A1 level was renamed.

Purpose[edit]

Triple-A teams' main purpose is to prepare players for the Major Leagues. ESPN wrote in 2010:[2]

Winning is nice, but secondary. It's much more important for a young prospect like outfielder Xavier Paul to get regular at-bats against lefties, or work on dropping down sacrifice bunts with a runner on first, than it is to take three of four from the Portland Beavers.[2]

Both young players and veterans play for Triple-A teams:

There are the young prospects speeding through the organization on the fastest treadmill, the guys who used to be young prospects who are in danger of topping out in Triple-A, the 30-somethings trying to get back to the majors after an injury or a rough patch, and the guys just playing a few more seasons because someone still wants them and they still want to.[2]

Players on the 40-man roster of a major league team are eligible for promotion to the major league club once the major league roster expands on September 1 (though teams will usually wait until their affiliates' playoff runs are over, should they qualify), for teams in contention for the postseason, these players create the flexibility needed to rest regular starters in late regular-season games. For those not in contention, using such players lets the teams evaluate them under game conditions.

Leagues[edit]

Teams at this level are divided into three leagues: the International League, the Pacific Coast League, and the MLB-independent Mexican League, the Mexican League fields teams throughout Mexico. The International League traditionally fielded teams in the Northeastern United States, and now fields teams in the Midwest and South as well, the Pacific Coast League originally fielded teams on the West Coast, but now fields teams throughout the western part of the United States, as far east as Nashville, Tennessee. For much of the 20th century, the American Association, which consisted of teams in the Midwestern United States, was also at this level, but it disbanded in 1997 and its teams were divided among the IL and PCL, each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams has an affiliation with one Triple-A team in the United States. However, Mexican Triple-A teams are not included in the organized farm team system.

Current teams[edit]

International League[edit]

Division Team Founded[a] MLB Affiliation Affiliated City Stadium Capacity[b]
North Buffalo Bisons 1985 Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Buffalo, New York Coca-Cola Field 16,907
Lehigh Valley IronPigs 2008 Philadelphia Phillies 2007 Allentown, Pennsylvania Coca-Cola Park 10,100
Pawtucket Red Sox 1973 Boston Red Sox 1970 Pawtucket, Rhode Island McCoy Stadium 10,031
Rochester Red Wings 1899 Minnesota Twins 2003 Rochester, New York Frontier Field 10,840
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 1989 New York Yankees 2007 Moosic, Pennsylvania PNC Field 10,000
Syracuse Chiefs 1961 Washington Nationals 2009 Syracuse, New York NBT Bank Stadium 11,731
South Charlotte Knights 1993 Chicago White Sox 1999 Charlotte, North Carolina BB&T Ballpark 10,200
Durham Bulls 1998 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
Norfolk Tides 1969 Baltimore Orioles 2007 Norfolk, Virginia Harbor Park 11,856
West Columbus Clippers 1977 Cleveland Indians 2009 Columbus, Ohio Huntington Park 10,100
Indianapolis Indians 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates 2005 Indianapolis, Indiana Victory Field 14,230
Louisville Bats 1982 Cincinnati Reds 2000 Louisville, Kentucky Louisville Slugger Field 13,131
Toledo Mud Hens 1965 Detroit Tigers 1987 Toledo, Ohio Fifth Third Field 10,300
  • a Indicates current IL franchise's first year in current city. Some franchises have prior history in other cities, or had local predecessor franchises at other levels that shared their current name.
  • b Many stadiums have lawn seating; thus, capacity is approximate.

Pacific Coast League[edit]

Division Team Founded MLB Affiliation Affiliated City Stadium Capacity
American
Northern
Colorado Springs Sky Sox 1988 Milwaukee Brewers 2015 Colorado Springs, Colorado Security Service Field 8,500
Iowa Cubs 1969 Chicago Cubs 1981 Des Moines, Iowa Principal Park 11,500
Oklahoma City Dodgers 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers 2015 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark 9,000
Omaha Storm Chasers 1969 Kansas City Royals 1969 Papillion, Nebraska Werner Park 9,023
American
Southern
Memphis Redbirds 1998 St. Louis Cardinals 1998 Memphis, Tennessee AutoZone Park 10,000
Nashville Sounds 1978 Oakland Athletics 2015 Nashville, Tennessee First Tennessee Park 10,000
New Orleans Baby Cakes 1993 Miami Marlins 2009 Metairie, Louisiana Shrine on Airline 10,000
Round Rock Express 1979 Texas Rangers 2011 Round Rock, Texas Dell Diamond 11,631
Pacific
Northern
Fresno Grizzlies 1998 Houston Astros 2015 Fresno, California Chukchansi Park 12,500
Reno Aces 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks 2009 Reno, Nevada Greater Nevada Field 9,013
Sacramento River Cats 1978 San Francisco Giants 2015 West Sacramento, California Raley Field 14,014
Tacoma Rainiers 1960 Seattle Mariners 1995 Tacoma, Washington Cheney Stadium 6,500
Pacific
Southern
Albuquerque Isotopes 2003 Colorado Rockies 2015 Albuquerque, New Mexico Isotopes Park 13,500
El Paso Chihuahuas 2014 San Diego Padres 2014 El Paso, Texas Southwest University Park 9,500
Las Vegas 51s 1919 New York Mets 2013 Las Vegas, Nevada Cashman Field 9,334
Salt Lake Bees 1994 Los Angeles Angels 2001 Salt Lake City, Utah Smith's Ballpark 14,511

Mexican League[edit]

Division Team City Stadium Capacity Founded
North Acereros de Monclova Monclova, Coahuila Monclova 8,500 1974
Algodoneros de Unión Laguna Torreón, Coahuila Revolución 9,500 1940
Generales de Durango Durango, Durango Francisco Villa 4,983 2016
Rieleros de Aguascalientes Aguascalientes City, Aguascalientes Alberto Romo Chávez 6,494 1975
Saraperos de Saltillo Saltillo, Coahuila Francisco I. Madero 16,000 1970
Sultanes de Monterrey Monterrey, Nuevo León Monterrey 22,061 1939
Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas
Laredo, Texas
Nuevo Laredo
Uni-Trade
7,555
6,000
1940
Toros de Tijuana Tijuana, Baja California Gasmart 17,000 2004
South Bravos de León León, Guanajuato Domingo Santana 6,500 1978
Diablos Rojos del México Iztacalco, Mexico City Estadio Fray Nano 5,000 1940
Guerreros de Oaxaca Oaxaca City, Oaxaca Eduardo Vasconselos 7,200 1996
Leones de Yucatán Mérida, Yucatán Parque Kukulcán Alamo 14,917 1954
Olmecas de Tabasco Villahermosa, Tabasco Centenario 27 de Febrero 8,500 1975
Pericos de Puebla Puebla City, Puebla Hermanos Serdán 12,112 1938
Piratas de Campeche Campeche City, Campeche Nelson Barrera 6,000 1980
Tigres de Quintana Roo Cancún, Quintana Roo Beto Ávila 9,500 1955


Triple-A All-Star Game[edit]

2015 PCL All-Stars meeting on the pitcher's mound

The Triple-A All-Star Game is a single game held between the two affiliated Triple-A leagues—the International League and the Pacific Coast League, each league fields a team composed of the top players in their respective leagues as voted on by fans, the media, and each club's field manager and general manager.[3] The event has taken place every year since 1988 when the first Triple-A All-Star Game was played in Buffalo, New York. Prior to 1998, a team of American League-affiliated Triple-A All-Stars faced off against a team of National League-affiliated Triple-A All-Stars.

Traditionally, the game has taken place on the day after the mid-summer Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[4] The game is meant to mark a symbolic halfway-point in the season (though not the mathematical halfway-point which, for most seasons, is usually one month prior). Both Triple-A leagues share a common All-Star break, with no regular-season games scheduled for two days before the All-Star Game itself, some additional events, such as the All-Star Fan Fest and Triple-A Home Run Derby, take place each year during this break in the regular season.[5]

Triple-A Championship[edit]

Since 2006, the annual Triple-A National Championship Game has been held to serve as a single championship game between the champions of the International League and Pacific Coast League to determine an overall champion of Triple-A baseball. It was originally held annually at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, and known as the Bricktown Showdown,[6] since 2011, the game has been held in a different Triple-A city each year.[7]

Previous postseason interleague championships include the Junior World Series (1932–34, 1936–62, 1970–71, 1973–74), Triple-A World Series (1983, 1998–2000), and Triple-A Classic (1988–91).

Pace-of-play initiatives[edit]

As a part of professional baseball's pace of play initiatives implemented in 2015, 20-second pitch clocks entered use at Triple-A stadiums in 2015;[8] in 2018, the time was shortened to 15 seconds when no runners are on base. Other significant changes implemented in 2018 include beginning extra innings with a runner on second base and limiting teams to six mound visits during a nine-inning game.[9]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ "Lynx are outta here: Team sold, will move to U.S." www.canada.com. Ottawa Citizen. April 13, 2016. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Shelburne, Ramona (September 1, 2010). "John Lindsey waits for his chance". ESPN. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  3. ^ Wild, Danny (May 30, 2014). "Voting begins for Triple-A All-Star Game". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Omaha Storm Chasers and Werner Park to Host 2015 Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game". Omaha Storm Chasers. Minor League Baseball. March 5, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Durham Lands 2014 Triple-A ASG". Minor League Baseball. February 20, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Bricktown Showdown To Determine Triple-A Baseball Champion" (PDF). Triple-A Baseball. July 12, 2006. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  7. ^ Hill, Benjamin (February 8, 2011). "Isotopes to Host Triple-A Championship". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved August 17, 2014. 
  8. ^ Jackson, Josh (January 15, 2015). "Triple-A, Double-A to Implement Pitch Clock". MILB.com. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  9. ^ "MiLB announces pace-of-play rules for 2018". MILB.com. March 14, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018. 

External links[edit]