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Charleston RiverDogs appear safe, but 42 minor league baseball teams on cut list

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The Charleston RiverDogs, a minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees, are members of the Class A South Atlantic League. File/Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

The Charleston RiverDogs appear to be safe from the chopping block, but 42 other minor league teams could be eliminated in a drastic overhaul proposed by Major League Baseball.

The New York Times has released a list of 42 teams that would be cut under the plan. None of the five minor league teams in South Carolina are on the list.

The state has four teams in the South Atlantic League (Class A): the RiverDogs (New York Yankees affiliate), Columbia Fireflies (New York Mets), North Augusta GreenJackets (San Francisco Giants) and Greenville Drive (Boston Red Sox).

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Chicago Cubs) are in the Advanced Class A Carolina League.

Dave Echols, president and general manager of the RiverDogs, could not be reached for comment.

JJ Cooper, a Baseball America senior editor who broke the initial story last month, said that anything close to the MLB proposal could be the biggest change for minor league baseball since 1962.

“Back then it was like every city had a team,” Cooper said. “But in the 1960s many teams started going away. But it was still more of a gradual, organic thing. With the MLB proposal, things would be much more direct.”

The plan, aimed at cutting costs, would eliminate 42 of the 160 affiliated minor league teams and trim the Major League Baseball draft from 40 rounds to 20 or 25.

In addition, the MLB is seeking more control over issues that have historically been left up to minor league teams. That includes identifying cities to relocate farm teams and deciding which cities could sustain promotions in class levels.

Among other things, Major League Baseball wants to have more geographically sensible league memberships and force minor league teams to upgrade facilities. It also wants to raise pay for minor leaguers, apparently with money saved from operational costs.

Changes, if approved, would start after the 2020 season, which is when the current Professional Baseball Agreement — a deal between MLB and the minor leagues — expires.

Minor league baseball teams on cut list 

Here is the list of 42 minor league baseball teams that would be cut under the Major League Baseball proposal, according to a report in the New York Times:

South Atlantic League (Class A): Hagerstown Suns, Lexington Legends, West Virginia Power

Appalachian League (Rookie): Bluefield Blue Jays, Bristol Pirates, Burlington Royals, Danville Braves, Elizabethton Twins, Greeneville Reds, Johnson City Cardinals, Kingsport Mets, Princeton Rays

Carolina League (Advanced A): Frederick Keys

California League (Advanced A): Lancaster Jethawks

Southern League (Double-A): Chattanooga Lookouts, Jackson Generals

Eastern League (Double-A): Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Erie SeaWolves

Florida State League (Advanced A): Daytona Tortugas, Florida Fire Frogs

Midwest League (Class A): Burlington Bees, Clinton LumberKings, Quad Cities River Bandits

New York-Penn League (Class A): Auburn Doubledays, Batavia Muckdogs, Connecticut Tigers, Lowell Spinners, Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes, Staten Island Yankees, Vermont Lake Monsters, Williamsport Crosscutters

Northwest League (Class A): Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, Tri-City Dust Devils

Pioneer League (Rookie): Billings Mustangs, Grand Junction Rockies, Great Falls Voyagers, Idaho Falls Chukars, Missoula PaddleHeads, Ogden Raptors, Orem Owlz, Rocky Mountain Vibes

Reach Derrek Asberry at 843-937-5517. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry

Sports Reporter

Derrek Asberry is sports reporter with the Post and Courier. He joined the newsroom in March 2016, after three years at the Aiken Standard where he covered the Savannah River Site. He enjoys New York Yankee baseball and poker.

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