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Minor league season canceled

After months of waiting for the start of the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) regular season, Bahamian players got confirmation that their seasons have been officially canceled.

The announcement was made on Tuesday on the MiLB website.

With that news, 2020 has been lost for the minor leagues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bahamian players were looking forward to possibly moving up the ranks this year.

Players in the system include but are not limited to Kristian Robinson (Arizona Diamondbacks), Tahnaj Thomas (Pittsburgh Pirates), D’Shawn Knowles (Los Angeles Angels), Trent Deveaux (Angels), Keithron Moss (Texas Rangers), Ian Lewis (Miami Marlins), Chavez Young (Toronto Blue Jays), Davonn Mackey (Oakland Athletics), James Rolle (Baltimore Orioles), Dax Stubbs (Orioles), Chavez Fernander (Detroit Tigers), Everette Cooper (Houston Astros) and D’Vaughn Knowles (New York Yankees).

The announcement stated: “Major League Baseball (MLB) has informed Minor League Baseball that it will not be providing its affiliated minor league teams with players for the 2020 season. As a result, there will not be a Minor League Baseball season in 2020.”

MiLB President and Chief Operating Officer Pat O’Conner said: “These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played. While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”

Robinson, Thomas, D’Shawn Knowles, Deveaux, and Moss were among their teams’ top 30 prospects for this season. Lewis, Stubbs and Cooper are rookies and were excited to show up and show out for their respective clubs.

The majority of Bahamian players returned home in March just before the closing of The Bahamas’ borders.

“We are a fans-in-the-stands business. We don’t have national TV revenues,” O’Conner said. “There was a conversation at one point: well, can we play without fans? That was one of the shortest conversations in the last six months. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

O’Conner estimated that 85-90 percent of revenue is related to ticket money, concessions, parking and ballpark advertising. The minors drew 41.5 million fans last year for 176 teams in 15 leagues, averaging 4,044 fans per game.

As for pay for those players, some teams have extended offers to pay minor leaguers $400 weekly through July.

The Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and minors expires September 30, and MLB has proposed reducing the minimum affiliates from 160 to 120.

MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) came to an agreement last week to resume with a 60-game regular season, one of the shortest ever.

Training camps for teams got underway yesterday. A couple of Bahamians made the 60-man taxi squad for the 2020 MLB season for their respective teams. They are Lucius Fox Jr. (Tampa Bay Rays) and Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm (Miami Marlins). They will be looking to get a chance to be called up to their respective active rosters in a limited season.

The 60-man taxi squad is a feeder system that provides call-up options, injury and illness replacements, with opportunities. Those players will work out and stay game ready, waiting for their names to be called. They are high-level prospects who will get in some developmental work.

Both Fox and Chisholm were in Spring Training for their respective teams before the presence of the pandemic ceased it.

MiLB, which began as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, was founded over a century ago, on September 5, 1901.

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