As has been the expectation now for week, the St. Paul Saints will officially join the Minnesota Twins organization in 2021 per reports from the Star Tribune. Previously playing in the American Association as an Independent Baseball team, they’ll now assume the role of the Twins Triple-A affiliate.
For years there has been talk about the convenience having an affiliate just down I-94 would provide the Twins. Then during the pandemic shortened season, CHS Field acted as the alternate site for the Major League club. With Major League Baseball throwing around its weight and controlling baseball across the country, a massive reshuffling has taken place. Gone are roughly 40 minor league clubs as 120 total affiliates is the new number. Regional restructuring has taken place, and new draft feeder leagues have emerged.
Impacting the Twins is a new partner at the highest minor league level. Having been affiliated with the Rochester Red Wings since 2003, the Minnesota Twins will now turn a new chapter in their developmental history. The Saints were founded in 1993 and were originally part of the Northern League prior to joining the American Association.
As it’s the Saints joining the Twins organization, they’ll inherit talent from within. Minnesota will now send Triple-A destined prospects to St. Paul rather than Rochester. This means that the players previously under contract with the Saints will be displaced throughout Independent Baseball. Per reporter Chelsea Ladd, there have been talks the American Association will hold a draft of sorts to find those players new teams.
Also, of note is the Twins swapping their Double-A affiliate. After just one season working with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Twins will now join forces with the Wichita Wind Surge. The Wind Surge were originally scheduled to operate as the Miami Marlins Triple-A affiliate, with 2020 being their first season. Obviously with the pandemic that never happened. It’s not great news for Wichita, who will drop a level in with the affiliation, but Minnesota inherits a closer Double-A club and one that is opening a brand-new ballpark and facilities.
Certainly, Major League Baseball expanding its reach across Major League, Minor League, and now even amateur baseball is a suboptimal development. Having such a monopoly over the sport, ownership groups continue to line their pockets while paydays for future generations of talent can continue to be stifled. However, if you’re simply a Twins fan, having the ability to watch future franchise pieces just 13 miles from Target Field, and a driveable journey to Wichita as a possibility, isn’t the worst silver lining.
For years, the St. Paul Saints possibility has been kicked around, and now in the first year it will happen top prospects like Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Jordan Balazovic, and Jhoan Duran should all be featured for a time in St. Paul. We may have to wait through the waning stages of a pandemic to see them in person, but a new era of baseball in Twins Territory has been ushered in.