The Cleveland Indians and the rest of Major League Baseball getting back to a 162-game schedule in 2021 is a nice return to normalcy.
The other great scheduling news this year was the fact Minor League Baseball was set to return with nearly a full schedule.
Triple-A play was set to begin in April, while Double-A and Single-A were set for May starts.
That has now changed as the Triple-A season has been pushed back to May as well.
Indians President Chris Antonetti confirmed the news and revealed that the 2020 alternate site system would return at least for a month in 2021.
Chris Antonetti confirmed the Triple-A season will be pushed back and teams will again rely on alternate sites in the early going. The Indians are working toward finalizing Columbus as their alternate site.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) March 3, 2021
The notable change here is switching the site from Lake County to Columbus.
This makes perfect sense since plenty of players at the alternate site should open up the season in Triple-A.
A System Already in Place
The good news about this change is that the Indians already how the format of an alternate site works.
A system is in place from 2020 that allows the team to get the players the proper work they need even if it is not live game action.
The 2020 season put plenty of new protocols in place that can now be used anytime there is a shutdown or change to the MLB or MiLB season.
Obviously, the hope is that this system doesn’t need to be used often because it means a disruption to the schedule.
But it is certainly better than just telling everyone to stay at home and train on their own.
Possible Benefits of Alternate Site
One good thing about this site is that top prospects or even fringe players can get work against the best players in the organization.
#Indians 1B Jake Bauers raved about LHP Sam Hentges, who he faced a lot last year.
“That dude is the real deal,” Bauers said, “and he’s going to be here soon.” pic.twitter.com/z9gkxdxWod
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) February 26, 2021
It is not in the format of a normal game, but that type of work is invaluable.
A top prospect like Nolan Jones can leave spring training and go right to the alternate site to continue facing top pitching.
He and others who get this experience will be in better shape than those simply taking part in the usual minor league camp.
The difference this year is that the alternate site is only scheduled for one month.
This should not provide a major disruption to the overall development process for prospects and hopefully the season does indeed get underway in May.
Minor league games are also just fun to watch and attend in general, so the return is important for more than just MLB-related reasons.