Minor League Baseball

Minor league baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball (MLB) and provide opportunities for player development. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses. Most are members of the umbrella organization known as Minor League Baseball (MiLB), which operates under the Commissioner of Baseball within the scope of organized baseball. Several leagues, known as independent leagues, do not have any official links to Major League Baseball.

Except for the Mexican League, teams in the organized minor leagues are generally independently owned and operated but are directly affiliated with one major league team through a standardized Player Development Contract (PDC). These leagues also go by the nicknames the "farm system," "farm club," or "farm team(s)" because of a joke passed around by major league players in the 1930s when St. Louis Cardinals' general manager Branch Rickey formalized the system, and teams in small towns were "growing players down on the farm like corn."

Major and Minor League teams may enter into a PDC for a two or four year term and may re-affiliate at the expiration of a PDC term, though many relationships are renewed and endure for extended time periods. For example, the Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly the Omaha Royals) have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals since the Royals joined the American League in 1969, but the Columbus Clippers changed affiliations from the New York Yankees to the Washington Nationals in 2007 and are now affiliated with the Cleveland Indians. A few minor league teams are directly owned by their major league parent club, such as the Springfield Cardinals, owned by the St. Louis Cardinals, and all of the Atlanta Braves' affiliates except for the Lynchburg Hillcats. Minor League teams that are owned directly by the major league Club do not have PDCs with each other and are not part of the reaffiliation shuffles that occur every other year.

Today, 20 minor baseball leagues operate with 246 member clubs in large, medium, and small towns, as well as the suburbs of major cities, across the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.

Read more about Minor League BaseballHistory, Current System, Reorganization of 1963, Players, Umpires, Minor League Baseball/NAPBL, List of Leagues and Teams

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