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MLB officially cancels 2020 Arizona Fall League

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This was not unexpected.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The novel coronavirus pandemic has cancelled a lot of sporting events around the world in 2020, and now MLB’s annual Arizona Fall League for prospects has met the same fate, per this Baseball America article:

Specifically, MLB did not believe the AFL’s traditional facilities—Salt River Fields, Scottsdale Stadium, Surprise Stadium, Peoria Sports Complex, Sloan Park and Camelback Ranch—were well-suited to deal with 40-plus players as well as coaches and other staff members while still maintaining proper physical distancing.

Beyond that, many of the players who would have been considered for the AFL are already at the teams’ alternate sites and either preparing to enter playoff bubbles or head to the fall instructional league.

Speaking of the fall instructional league, MLB has revived that, for this year at least, but with a twist:

All 15 MLB teams that have their spring training facilities in Arizona have agreed to play each other during instructional league. The games will begin on Oct. 5.

The teams will be divided into two leagues, with the eight teams located on the West side of the Phoenix area playing each other in a schedule that begins Oct. 5 and ends Nov. 14, while the seven teams on the East side of Phoenix will begin on Oct. 6 and end on Nov. 12. To give the East side an even number of teams, the Giants will field two clubs.

Teams will play an unequal number of games; the linked article says the Padres will play 40 and “double up” on several dates, while the Cubs are currently listed for 17 games beginning October 14 and ending November 7.

It’s unlikely these games will be open to the public.

One good thing for players who are participating in instructional leagues this fall:

Unlike past years, minor leaguers are being paid for instructional league (the amount of pay will be determined by the level the players would have been assigned to if the year had gone according to plan), so for players participating, it means another month (or more) of paychecks.

So that’s good, anyway. The Baseball America article indicates that if conditions surrounding COVID-19 permit, the Arizona Fall League is expected to be held as usual in 2021 with the regular complement of six teams, each with prospects from five different MLB organizations.