The Angels announced invitations to four minor league affiliates for 2021, as part of Major League Baseball’s reorganization of MiLB.
The biggest structural change is reducing full-season affiliates to four per team: Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Low-A. Teams will still field short-season, rookie-level teams at their complexes domestically and in the Dominican Republic. For the Angels, that means Tempe, Arizona, and Boca Chica in the Dominican Summer League.
Invitations from the Angels went out to Triple-A Salt Lake, Double-A Rocket City (who moved from Mobile last year), and Class-A Inland Empire, all of whom were already were Angels affiliates.
The potential new team is Tri-City, a Northwest League team out of Pasco, Washington that was a Padres affiliate the last six years. The Dust Devils, if they accept the invitation, will be a High-A team, with the eight-team California League, including Inland Empire, moving from High-A to Low-A.
These invitations are still pending a working agreement between Major League Baseball and MiLB, so it might take some time to finalize the affiliates. At least for now, all four invitees seem eager to be on board.
“We are thrilled to receive the invitation to join the Angels family as their High-A affiliate,” Tri-City vice president and GM Derrel Ebert said in a statement. “The Dust Devils and the Tri-City community are excited to welcome the Los Angeles Angels staff and players that will come through Gesa Stadium and look forward to building a long lasting partnership.”
With teams trimmed to four affiliates, that meant no more rookie leagues outside of the team complexes. The Orem Owlz are moving to Colorado and remain in the Pioneer League, now an independent “partner league” with MLB after 20 years as an Angels affiliate.
Orem’s move was already known, but with Tri-City added that meant another Angels affiliate had to go. The Burlington Bees, an Angels affiliate for 2013 in the Midwest League, not only did not get an invitation from the Angels, but also, per J.J. Cooper at Baseball America, the Bees did not get an invitation from any major league team, which would mean Burlington is on the outside looking in.
“The entire Bees organization is heartbroken by this announcement, but we are honored to have been in the Midwest League and a part of Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball for so many years,” Bees general manager Kim Parker said in a statement.
“We are proud to continue our relationship with Salt Lake, Rocket City and Inland Empire and are excited to welcome the Tri-City franchise to the Angels family,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said in a statement. “I would like to thank the ownership groups and staffs of each of these great franchises for their help in establishing these long-term partnerships.”