There was a reshuffling of Midwest League affiliates after the 2004 season and the Twins wound up stuck in Beloit, Wis., a locale the home-state Milwaukee Brewers had abandoned because of a crummy facility.
The Twins were in Beloit for eight seasons, and then happily moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for 2013, after the Kernels had a parting of ways with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Twins shook up their organization after the 2016 season and now have many more staffers and analysts involved in player development. Jeremy Zoll, the Twins’ minor league director, has made demands to Kernels’ ownership for more batting cages (three, not one), additional space for Twins staffers and other improvements.
The Twins/Cedar Rapids working agreement expires after the 2020 season. That’s the case with nearly all affiliation deals — an opening for Major League Baseball to attempt a dramatic redo of its minor league system.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper offered a thoroughly reported piece on this Friday. Cooper states that MLB’s aggressive proposal to the minor leagues (MiLB) calls for a reduction in affiliates from 160 to 120 teams for 2021.
The only remaining working agreements would be at full-season leagues in Class AAA, Class AA, high-Class A and low-Class A (including the Midwest League). Players now sent to short-season rookie leagues — such as the Elzabethton [Tenn.] Twins — would remain at spring training complexes.
The headline in the Twin Cities was Cooper’s report that St. Paul and Sugar Land, Texas are two independent league sites where MLB wants to place minor league affiliates.
I talked briefly with St. Paul Saints owner Mike Veeck and he said MLB’s interest in putting an affiliate in CHS Field was news to him.
“I did hear that Houston [Astros] was pushing for this,’’ he said. “Sugar Land is a suburb, and it has a nice ballpark, and it’s having trouble continuing to play in the Atlantic League.’’
A month ago, I mentioned the greatness of CHS Field to a Twins employee and said: “It would be a terrific location for a Class A team.’’
Response: “Great for any level. How about Triple-A?’’
He was joking. I thought.
More ballpark news:
• The ballpark at the abandoned greyhound track in Hudson, Wis., is happening. The St. Croix River Hounds plan to play in the Northwoods collegiate league starting in 2021.
• Metro Millers Baseball has proposed a ballpark holding 8,000 in Shakopee. League not yet announced; perhaps Northwoods.
• The Beloit Snappers were sold to Quint Studer, owner of the Twins’ Class AA Pensacola affiliate, last month. A plan for a new downtown ballpark was announced. And now comes future affiliation uncertainty.