Fans of minor league baseball spoke and eventually, MLB listened.
Among the many changes that happened in the minors for the 2021 season, MLB changed the names of the leagues to more generic and descriptive names. The Pacific Coast League was re-named “Triple-A West,” the Midwest League became “High-A Central” and so on.
These names were never popular and it led to a lot of awkwardness, as the South Bend Cubs were in the High-A Central East Division and the Tennessee Smokies were in the Double-A South North Division. But today, Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball announced that the league names would return to their historic names for the 2022 season.
In the press release announcing the change, MLB’s Senior Vice-President of Minor League Operations and Development said “Major League Baseball is pleased to restore the historic names for each of the Minor Leagues that our fans are familiar with. We are excited for what the future holds for each of these leagues and the communities that make up Minor League Baseball.”
MLB never explained why they changed the names to the generic labels, but in at least this case, they listened to the fans and changed them back to the league names that had existed for decades prior to 2021.
Here is a complete list of the name changes:
- Triple-A East is now the International League
- Triple-A West is now the Pacific Coast League
- Double-A Central is now the Texas League
- Double-A South is now the Southern League
- Double-A East is now the Eastern League
- High-A Central is now the Midwest League
- High-A East is now the South Atlantic League
- High-A West is now the Northwest League
- Low-A West is now the California League
- Low-A East is now the Carolina League
- Low-A Southeast is now the Florida State League
Those names generally line up with what those leagues were before the re-branding, although some leagues have had a lot of shakeup in which teams are in which league.
The names of the rookie ball leagues at the major league complexes in Arizona and Florida will not change. They will still be the Arizona Complex League and the Florida Complex League.
Also, the Pacific Coast League got a nice new logo.
You can also see from the logos and the establish dates that these leagues are considered a continuation of the old leagues, so presumably the old historic records will also carry over. That was something that was unclear last season and the generically-named leagues were treated as de facto new leagues in 2021.
So if you’re wondering what leagues the Cubs affiliates are in:
- The Iowa Cubs are now in the International League. They were in the Pacific Coast League in 2019.
- The Tennessee Smokies are in the Southern League again.
- The South Bend Cubs are in the Midwest League again.
- The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are in the Carolina League again.
So it’s a small thing, but at least MLB has given the minor leagues back some of their historic identity.