What is the Difference between A, AA, and AAA baseball?
Many baseball players you see playing in the MLB, Major League Baseball, have spent some time in their careers playing for a team in the MiLB, Minor League Baseball. The MiLB is where A, AA, and AAA come from, the different levels of playing in the MiLB.
We will explain the differences between each level, including how it works in terms of competition in the MiLB. After reading this blog, hopefully you can take away something new you have learned about the different levels MiLB baseball players can play.
Difference Between MiLB and the MLB
Now the MLB and MiLB may sound very similar, but they are different. The MLB is Major League Baseball, where the big teams you have likely heard of compete like the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, and Boston Red Sox. The MiLB is Minor League Baseball which consists of smaller scale teams where baseball players are getting experience to hopefully work their way up and play in the MLB one day.
How Do Baseball Players Play in the MiLB
Each year there is a First-Year Player MLB Draft, also called the Rule 4 Draft. The draft occurs in June, which is the middle of the season for MLB teams. Each MLB team takes turns making selections in each round for the baseball players they want on their team.
Once a baseball player is selected by an MLB team during the draft, they are now considered a professional baseball player. They will then begin to negotiate a contract with that MLB team. It is likely in each of these contracts the baseball players will be negotiating with the MLB team about their salary and which MiLB team they will be playing for.
Each MLB organization or team has a set of contracted MiLB teams that they send drafted baseball players to play for. Baseball players will play in the MiLB to improve their skills and gain game experience as they work their way up to the MLB.
Very very few baseball players have the ability to start playing directly in the MLB and not play a single game in the MiLB, but it has happened. Each baseball player’s journey after being drafted to an MLB team and playing in the MiLB is different.
Some baseball players have the ability to skip a couple of levels and only spend a couple of years playing in the MiLB. They might get the opportunity to be called up to an MLB team and sometimes then called back down. For others, they might play in the MiLB for ten years before seeing the field in the MLB. Unfortunately, not all MiLB baseball players eventually get a chance to play in the MLB- some never make it.
The Different Levels of the MiLB
The MiLB, Minor League Baseball, consists of 5 different levels baseball players can play in. Each is differentiated by level of ability and the level of competition. The four different levels, and one extra division, are as follows, in order from highest and most competitive to the lowest and least competitive level,
- AAA, also called Triple-A
- AA, also called Double-A
- High-A, also called Single-A
- Low-A, also called Single-A
- Short Season and Rookie Ball
MLB Teams and their MiLB Affiliated Teams
As we mentioned before, each MLB team has a set of affiliated MiLB teams they are contracted within each of the top 4 divisions. For example, the Major League Baseball team Atlanta Braves have affiliated MiLB teams including,
- Triple-A: Gwinnett Stripers
- Double-A: Mississippi Braves
- High-A: Rome Braves
- Low-A: Augusta GreenJackets
In addition, the Arizona Diamondbacks MLB team has the following MiLB affiliated teams,
- Triple-A: Reno Aces
- Double-A: Amarillo Sod Poodles
- High-A: Hillsboro Hops
- Low-A: Visalia Rawhide
We will continue on the blog to discuss a more in-depth overview of each Milb level, starting with the lowest level of play to the highest level of play.
Rookie Ball and Short Season
MiLB Rookie ball or the rookie leagues are usually for baseball players who were recently drafted. This can include those who were drafted right out of high school and some baseball players drafted right from college after their junior season. The rookie league consists of the
- Arizona Complex League
- Florida Complex League
- Dominican Summer League.
The short season or single-A short season is similar to the rookie season in which it is a short season that starts in June and goes through early September. This is best for baseball players who were just drafted to get the opportunity to jump right into starting their professional baseball careers and play for a team.
Low-A Division Baseball
The MiLB Low-A division, also known as Single-A, usually consists of baseball players who were recently drafted to the MLB right out of high school and baseball players moving up from the rookie and short-season leagues. The baseball players get to play a full regular season consisting of 140 games over five months and spring training.
Many baseball players that have been drafted in the MLB and contracted to a team in the MiLB Single-A division, including Low-A and High-A, were put there to work on their pitching control and/or their batting consistency. Playing in the MiLBSingle-A division will give these baseball players the opportunity to focus on and improve these skills until they are good enough to play in the next division of MiLB.
There are 30 teams in the Low-A divisions that are divided into 3 MiLB leagues consisting of
- Low-A East
- Low-A Southeast
- Low-A West.
High-A Division Baseball
The MiLB High-A division, also known as Single-A, is usually composed of baseball players who are moving up from Low-A or are experienced first-year baseball players, or sometimes first-round MLB Draft picks who played at a major college might start at this division.
Along with the division Low-A baseball, the High-A division plays a full regular season of 140 games over five months, including spring training as well. The vast majority of the teams in this league are owned by the MLB parent clubs and have the opportunity to use their spring training complexes.
In the High-A division, there are 30 teams divided into three different MiLB leagues, which consist of
- High-A East
- High-A Central
- High-A West
AA Division Baseball
The MiLB AA division, also known as Double-A, is where you find difficult competition and a lot of talent. These are the baseball players that have the potential to be playing in the MLB within very few seasons. It is very difficult for baseball players to make it to the Double-A level because the competition is much tougher, which is why it is considered the division that weeds out most MiLB baseball players.
Baseball players who get the opportunity to play in the Double-A division have to have a strong physical ability as well as mental ability. The division is usually composed of players who have worked their way up from lower divisions, veteran baseball players from foreign leagues with professional baseball experience, and occasionally you might see an MLB Draft pick placed directly in the Double-A division, but it is rare.
The baseball players playing in the MiLB Double-A division usually see higher salaries and have the possibility to jump straight to playing in the MLB and not playing in the next division. Some of the baseball players in the Double-A decision might even have MLB experience.
In the Double-A division, there are also 30 teams, each divided into three different MiLB leagues, which include
- Double-A Central
- Double-A Northeast
- Double-A South
AAA Division Baseball
The MiLB AAA division, also known as Triple-A, is where you find baseball players who are elite, talented baseball players ready to play in the MLB. The Triple-A division is full of baseball players who have MLB experience, rising stars who are ready to see the MLB field, and veteran MLB players that might be rehabbing an injury.
It is important for us to be aware of the fact that there is always the possibility of moving up and moving back down throughout divisions. This is why the Triple-A division is referred to as the “spare parts” for MLB teams. Sometimes baseball players aren’t quite ready or maybe not needed positional-wise quite yet, so they play in the Triple-A division with the possibility of being called up to the MLB later in the season.
MiLB Tiple-A division teams are a favorite among fans because they can attend games at a lower price than MLB games and still see elite and talented baseball players compete.
In the Triple-A division, there are 30 teams like the other division, but they are only divided into two different MiLB leagues, which are
- Triple-A East
- Triple-A West
As you can see, the journey to play in the MLB is difficult and can be lengthy for some. Professional baseball players who were drafted by MLB teams get the opportunity to improve their skills and work their way up and climb the ladder through MiLB to eventually reach the MLB. After reading this blog, hopefully you understand the different levels of MiLB baseball including A, AA, and AAA.