The New York Yankees today announced changes to their minor league affiliation structure as a result of the expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement (between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball) and the creation of the Prospect Development Pipeline, a collaborative effort between MLB and USA Baseball to establish an official identification and player development pathway for amateur baseball players in the United States. With this restructuring, the number of affiliated minor league teams will be contracted from 160 to 120, with many previously affiliated Short-Season and Rookie Level minor league teams being absorbed into the Prospect Development Pipeline.
These changes have caused all teams to reevaluate and streamline their minor league systems, and as a result, the Yankees will reduce their overall number of minor league teams from 10 to six.
The Yankees will maintain their Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, whose location served as the Yankees’ “Alternate Site” during the 2020 season.
At the Double-A Level, the Yankees are moving their affiliation from Trenton to Somerset, New Jersey. We thank the great city of Trenton and the Thunder owners for 18 years of collaboration and we wish them well, but this decision was made strictly on the basis of what we believe to be the best facility to develop our young players. Thanks to the efforts of Major League Baseball, the Atlantic League and the owners of the Somerset Patriots, Trenton will be offered Somerset’s membership within the Atlantic League.
With the elimination of the Short-Season New York-Penn League, the Yankees carefully considered hosting their High Single-A affiliate in Staten Island. However, as the number of our minor league affiliates have been limited, we did not have the confidence that the organization could continue to allow us to develop our players in the best possible way, especially since the team would have to transition into a full-season Single-A affiliate.
As a result of our decision, we found it essential that the people of Staten Island continue to have baseball, and we appreciate and thank them for their support. The borough of Staten Island will always be a part of the Yankees family. We are committed to working diligently with Major League Baseball, the City of New York Economic Development Corporation, and Staten Island Borough President Oddo to ensure that a team from Baseball’s new partner — the reconfigured Atlantic League — will be playing there this season.
At the High Single-A Level, the Yankees will now be aligned with Hudson Valley (most recently a New York–Penn League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays). The determination was made that Hudson Valley would be best for our players, especially given the long term and tremendously beneficial relationship we have had with Marvin Goldklang, who is a longstanding partner and associate of the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees. The Goldklang Group operates Charleston — our Low Single-A affiliate from 2005 through last season — which will no longer fall under the Yankees’ minor league umbrella. Additionally, Rookie-Level Pulaski will also not be part of the Yankees’ minor league system going forward.
Notably, each of the top three levels of our newly configured minor league system will be located within close proximity to Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees’ Tampa affiliate will shift from a High Single-A designation to Low Single-A. Additionally, the Yankees will continue with short-season teams in the Gulf Coast League (based at the Yankees Player Development Complex in Tampa) and Dominican Summer League (located at the Yankees Latin Béisbol Academy in Boca Chica).
“Restructuring our minor league affiliations — especially with the additions of Somerset and Hudson Valley — gives us greater continuity to streamline and improve the development of our minor league system,” said Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Cashman. “The relationships we have formed with all of our teams will allow for a more consistent application of training with similarly aligned facilities in terms of structure, quality and ease of travel. We are confident that these changes will greatly benefit our players and Yankees fans for many years to come.
ABOUT THE FULL-SEASON AFFILIATES:
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A since 2007, PNC Field):
In 2021, the Yankees will begin their 15th year with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as their Triple-A affiliate. Most recently during the 2020 season, Scranton hosted the Yankees’ “Alternate Site,” allowing potential call-ups to maintain their readiness. The RailRiders began playing at PNC Field in 2013, when construction was completed on the footprint of the former Lackawanna County Stadium. Since becoming affiliated with the Yankees in 2007, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre won two International League championships (2008 and 2016) and has finished with a winning record in 11 of 13 played seasons.
Somerset Patriots (Double-A beginning in 2021, TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater, N.J.):
In 2021, the Yankees will begin their affiliation with Somerset, which was a founding member of the Atlantic League in 1998. TD Bank Ballpark opened in June of 1999 and possesses outstanding facilities for players, a commitment to fan engagement and strong attendance. From 1998-2012, the team was managed by Sparky Lyle, who as a Yankee pitcher from 1972-78, was named to three All-Star teams (1973, ’76-77), won two World Series championships (1977-78) and took home the 1977 AL Cy Young Award.
Hudson Valley Renegades (High Single-A beginning in 2021, Dutchess Stadium, Wappinger Falls, N.Y.)
In 2021, the Yankees will begin their affiliation with Hudson Valley, which played in the New York-Penn League from 1994 through 2019 and had most recently been an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. The team is operated by the Goldklang Group, which also owns Charleston, the Yankees’ former Single-A affiliate with whom the Yankees enjoyed great success. With the transition to a High Single-A designation, Hudson Valley will embark on its first-ever full season schedule.
Tampa Tarpons (Single-A affiliate since 1994 —Low-Single A beginning in 2021, George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, Fla.)
In 2021, the Yankees will begin their 28th year with a Single-A affiliate in Tampa and their 26th year based at George M. Steinbrenner Field, which was renamed from Legends Field in 2008 in honor of the Yankees’ longtime Principal Owner. The facility (and its adjacent fields) has also served as the Yankees’ Major League spring training home since opening in 1996. In recent years, Steinbrenner Field has undergone significant remodeling to its player training areas in addition to a having a fan-friendly transformation of the interior stadium bowl.