Cleveland Indians fans were able to watch a 60-game MLB season last year along with an expanded postseason.
Unfortunately, the entire Minor League Baseball season was canceled.
The good news is that the minors are back in 2021, with a bit of realignment to keep in mind.
Each MLB team now has four affiliates for a total of 120 teams.
Several other leagues are also part of the overall MLB system.
The Indians will have four teams with the Columbus Clippers at Triple-A, the Akron RubberDucks at Double-A, the Lake County Captains at High-A, and the Lynchburg Hillcats at Low-A.
The Captains received a promotion, which makes sense given how close the team is to Cleveland.
Fans who love minor league action finally got all the schedules recently and can hopefully buy some tickets soon.
There are some important things to note for when each team gets underway.
— Columbus Clippers (@CLBClippers) February 18, 2021
Triple-A ball gets going the week of April 5 and you will notice they are using a Monday off day with six-game series for the duration fo the season.
The home opener is April 13 and the season runs through September 19.
It will be nice to have the Clippers back so the Indians actually have a top minor league team instead of just an alternate site training squad like in 2020.
*insert drum roll*
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for…. The QUACK is BACK! 🗣🦆
— Akron RubberDucks 🦆 (@AkronRubberDuck) February 18, 2021
The RubberDucks have to wait a bit longer and open play May 4 at home.
The structure of the season is the same, but just with a shorter length.
Akron is usually where the top prospects go to spend significant time before gearing up for a run with the Indians.
This may be where Nolan Jones can get some real time before potentially coming up later in the season.
Captains and Hillcats Schedules
The Captains and Hillcats also get started May 4.
Fans in Eastlake will have to wait until May 11 for the newly-promoted Captains to play at home.
Opening Day: May 4
Home Opener: May 11
— Lake County Captains (@LCCaptains) February 18, 2021
Last but not least, we have the Hillcats.
What promotions do you want us to add to these 60 home games? pic.twitter.com/EhOx0mDUW9
— Lynchburg Hillcats (@LynHillcats) February 18, 2021
So to recap, Triple-A play starts April 6 and the lower levels start May 4.
The best news of all is that all four levels are going to play in 2021.
There is just no way for all these teams to survive financially, without help, if they aren’t playing a normal schedule.
Next up is each municipality deciding how many fans can be in attendance at games.
Just getting to one or two this season as a fan would be a nice change after going a full year without any live professional baseball.
Minor league teams are huge parts of many communities and losing them would be a catastrophe.
It is also nice to have them back in general to assist the Indians in talent development at a time when the team is relying on young, low-paid players.