(Created with mapchart.net. Click to enlarge.) While Minor League Baseball is an introduction to pro ball for the players, it can also be a place where fans first meet the game. From Florida to Alaska, Hawaii to Maine, this map illustrates the closest Minor League team to each county in the United States. There are three counties that play home to two team each: San Bernadino, California (Rancho Cucamonga & Inland Empire); Pinellas, Florida (Dunedin & Clearwater); Palm Beach, Florida (Palm Beach & Jupiter). The Omaha Storm Chasers (181 counties) and St. Paul Saints (180) cover the most counties while Vancouver covers the most ground thanks to Alaska.
Entering the 2021 season, the St. Paul Saints find themselves facing a bit of an existential paradox. Have the rebels gone mainstream? After 28 seasons of independent existence, the Saints have signed on as the Triple-A affiliate of the Twins.
In 2021 and beyond, 11 of the 12 teams that previously had been part of the Eastern League will operate in the Double-A Northeast League. The lone newcomers are the Somerset Patriots, set to debut as a New York Yankees affiliate.
The Sugar Land Skeeters are entering a highly refined new era. Established in 2012 as a member of the independent Atlantic League, the Skeeters are set to embark on their debut season as the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros.
In this 20-team league, the largest in the Minors, 14 clubs come directly from the Triple-A International League. One of those, Worcester, will debut in a new ballpark and a new town as the Pawtucket franchise moves 35 miles northwest from Rhode Island into central Massachusetts.
Half the size of its Triple-A counterpart, this 10-team circuit features nine clubs from the former Pacific Coast League and one from the independent ranks. That entity, the Sugar Land Skeeters, enters the same division as two other Texas teams.
The largest of the three Double-A circuits, this 12-team loop mimics the setup of the former Eastern League in every way but one: The Somerset Patriots, most recently a member of the independent Atlantic League, replace the Trenton Thunder as a Yankees affiliate.
This 10-team circuit includes the entire Texas League as well as two clubs that were slated to play the 2020 season at the Triple-A level -- the Wichita Wind Surge and San Antonio Missions.
Old meets new in the eight-team Double-A South as the Rocket City Trash Pandas make their long-awaited debut May 4 in Chattanooga against the Lookouts -- a historic franchise with one of the oldest monikers in baseball.
A mashup of members from the Carolina, South Atlantic, Midwest and New York-Penn Leagues, this 12-team circuit spans eight states with a geographic footprint that stretches from New York to Georgia.
Familiarity reigns in the newly launched High-A Central as all 12 clubs had been longtime members of the former Midwest League. This theme holds true particularly in the East Division as all six clubs were division rivals as well.
A mashup of clubs from the Carolina and South Atlantic Leagues, the 12-team Low-A East consists of three divisions concentrated in four states: Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Like their Low-A Southeast counterparts in Florida, the eight teams in the Low-A West won't have to cross state lines during their road trips.