Dragons part of High A Central league in new minor-league model

Dayton one of 120 teams to accept MLB’s invitation

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

All 120 Minor League Baseball teams that were offered invitations in December to become Professional Development League license holders accepted those invitations, Major League Baseball announced Friday.

The list includes the Dayton Dragons, who will now be part of the High A Central league, which includes 11 other teams that used to Midwest League affiliates. Six of those teams will be in the East Division, including the Dragons, and six will be in the West Division.

The Clinton LumberKings, Burlington Bees, Kane County Cougars and Bowling Green Hot Rods are the four Midwest League teams that won’t be in the new league. Bowling Green is part of the High A East group, while the other three teams will not be big-league affiliates.

“We are excited to unveil this new model,” Comissioner Rob Manfred said, “which not only provides a pipeline to the Majors, but continues the Minor Leagues’ tradition of entertaining millions of families in hundreds of communities.  In modernizing our Minor League system, we prioritized the qualities that make the Minor Leagues such an integral part of our game while strengthening how we develop professional athletes on and off the field.  We look forward to demonstrating the best of our game throughout local communities, supporting all those who are working hard to grow the sport, and sharing unrivaled technology and resources with minor league teams and players.”

The Reds will also have affiliates in the Triple-A East league (Louisville Bats, the Double-A (Chattnooga Lookouts) and the Low A Southeast (Daytona Tortugas).

Major League Baseball reduced the overall number of minor league teams from 160 to 120. The Reds will no longer have short-season teams in Billings, Mont., and Greeneville, Tenn. The Billings Mustangs will continue to play in the Pioneer League, which will now be part of an independent professional MLB Partner League.

The licenses each of the 120 teams accepted offer the following benefits:

• “Player salary increases ranging from 38-72 percent for the 2021 season.”

• “Modernized facility standards better suited for professional athletes.”

• “Improved amenities and working conditions for players and staff.”

• Reduced in-season travel for players and coaches.”

• “Better geographical alignment.”

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