Orioles fans in 2019 have been forced to turn to their farm system to find successful teams to root for. Interest in the minor leagues has never been higher for O’s fans, and many have familiarity with the likes of the Bowie Baysox and Frederick Keys.
Under a new proposal from Major League Baseball, however, one of their affiliates might lose its player development contract. That could directly affect some Maryland-based Orioles affiliates and cause the Orioles to lose one of their teams.
In an effort to improve the quality level of minor league play and facilities throughout farm systems across the country, Major League Baseball is proposing limiting each team to five affiliates and dropping the overall total to 120.
Teams that lose their player development contracts wouldn’t be eliminated, necessarily, and may even join a proposed new “Dream League.” But they would no longer be affiliated with specific franchises, and would not see top prospects come through their doors anymore.
Some minor league teams in Maryland could be directly affected by this change and lose their affiliation, according to a report from the Baltimore Sun.
The report lists the two most at-risk teams in the Orioles system as the Delmarva Shorebirds and Frederick keys, the franchise’s Low-A and High-A affiliates, respectively.
Aberdeen, the short-season affiliate, would likely be “promoted” to a full-season level in this scenario, thanks to its location and strong facilities.
Plenty of big-name players have played in both Delmarva and Frederick. The future face of the franchise, Adley Rutschman, debuted with Shorebirds in August during the team’s historic regular season.
It’s hard to tell if this proposal will end up going through, or if it will be for the best in the long run. Regardless, it will be a disappointing loss for those communities if they no longer get to see the best future stars play locally.
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