Although the move had been telegraphed for awhile, the Brewers have now officially lost their Rookie-ball affiliate, the Rocky Mountain Vibes.
If you haven’t kept up on Minor League Baseball affiliate news, this news may come as a shock. The Brewers’ Rookie-level affiliate, the Rocky Mountain Vibes, are joining the rest of their fellow Pioneer League teams in a new Pioneer League, that’s the same as before, except they now are independent, will not get players from big league franchises, and have to find their own players.
The Brewers will not be looking to find a new Rookie-level affiliate, either. That level of minor league ball is essentially being eliminated, outside of the Rookie teams at spring training complexes.
This is all part of a broad change and realignment going on in Minor League Baseball and MLB takes over control of MiLB and looks to streamline the process, cutting more than 40 teams from affiliation.
Losing The Rocky Mountain Vibes
It’s been a tough couple of years for baseball fans in Colorado Springs. They were a Triple-A franchise for many years, working as the top affiliate for the Colorado Rockies. Then their hometown team left and the Brewers came in.
Four years after that, the Brewers wanted their Triple-A team anywhere else but high elevation and the franchise “moved” to San Antonio. The same ownership group owned both franchises, so baseball stayed in Colorado Springs but had to dive all the way from Triple-A to Rookie ball. They rebranded as the Rocky Mountain Vibes.
After one season as a Rookie team, the 2020 season was cancelled, and now they’re dropping even further, losing affiliate status and becoming an independent-ball team.
In a span of about six years, Colorado Springs went from the Triple-A affiliate of the in-state Colorado Rockies to Rookie ball to independent ball.
The Vibes will be in a “Partner League” with MLB, and according to the announcement, that means MLB will “provide initial funding for the league’s operating expenses, as well as install scouting technology in Pioneer League ballparks to provide MLB Clubs with first-class scouting information on Pioneer League players”.
As much as MLB says they’re helping keep professional baseball in these communities, it’s not the same. Independent ball is just not the same as affiliated ball. They can dress it up all they want, but it’s not affiliated ball so it’s not going to be the same or better than before.
It’s very unfortunate for the people of Colorado Springs, and it’s unfortunate that the Brewers will no longer have a Rookie-level affiliate for their new draftees and other players.
As for the rest of the Brewers affiliates, San Antonio is dropping to Double-A, meaning the Brewers need to search for a new Triple-A home. Biloxi is likely to remain, while Carolina and Wisconsin may flip, meaning the Timber Rattlers would be High-A and the Mudcats would be Low-A.
Things are still being figured out for MiLB alignment in 2021, but that’s how things are looking right now.