Baseball America is reporting (sub. req’d) that the start of the season for the AA and A levels will be delayed. MLB has informed those teams through a memo that spring training for AA and A level players won’t begin until after major league and AAA players have finished spring training. With major league spring training expected, for now, to start on time, that probably means the levels below AAA will conduct spring training primarily in April and start play in May. Of course, all of this is provisional as state and local authorities may impose pandemic-related restrictions that will impact baseball games.
This isn’t necessarily bad news for minor league teams. Most leagues don’t draw many fans early in the season anyway, not until the weather gets warmer and school ends (of course, that’s an open issue, too). The memo also alerted minor league teams that their schedules will run until October 3, with no playoffs, so they could get in something close to a full season.
How this will all work remains unclear, including at the AAA level. As BA points out, it’s unknown whether MLB will operate in “bubbles.” It’s one thing for MLB teams, which take charter flights. AAA teams take commercial flights, which isn’t likely to meet any sort of pandemic precautions that MLB may be practicing. It still seems possible that minor league baseball could be operated, at least for a while, out of limited sites, like team training facilities.