Starting in 2021, the Renegades will play as part of the Yankees’ farm system
It wasn’t that long ago that a night out at the ballpark would have sounded like a normal summertime activity, but today the mere thought of attending a live sporting event, –surrounded by friends, family and countless strangers, feels like a distant fantasy.
That’s one reason the news that minor league baseball’s Hudson Valley Renegades are now a High Single–A affiliate of the New York Yankees has fans that much more eager for a 2021 season they can witness in person, perhaps getting an early glimpse of exciting young players who could be on the field at Yankee Stadium in a few years.
The odds of making it to the majors notwithstanding (High Single-A is three levels below the Majors), Renegades President and General Manager Steve Gliner notes there already has been tremendous response to the news, with people inquiring about season tickets and the Renegades’ 2021 schedule, which has not yet been finalized.
With the 2020 season having been cancelled for the minor leagues, Gliner says, “People are looking forward to something ‘normal’ again. Hopefully, by next summer that would be the case, and we are fully preparing for that. We will be able to open the ball park again and invite fans back to see Yankee prospects that will hopefully be playing in the Bronx in a few years.”
The Renegades have been playing ball at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill since their debut in 1994. The club had been in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system since 1996, winning New York-Penn League Championships in 1999, 2012, and 2017.
With MLB’s complete restructuring of minor league team affiliations, to take effect in 2021, the New York-Penn League has been dissolved and the Renegades will play in the Mid-Atlantic League as part of the Yankee organization.
In a Nov. 7 statement, the Yankees explained that the re-alignment resulted from expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball.
Taking its place is the new Prospect Development Pipeline, “a collaborative effort between MLB and [amateur league] USA Baseball to establish an official identification and player development pathway for amateur baseball players in the United States.”
The Yankees will be keeping their Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders, and are moving their Double-A affiliate in New Jersey to Somerset from Trenton.
Under the streamlined structure, the Yankees will have six minor league affiliates, compared with the 10 teams they previously fielded. The number of affiliated minor league teams among all MLB clubs has been reduced to 120 from 160.
Facing uncertainty about their minor league future are the Staten Island Yankees, which has been cut loose by the parent organization.
The Yankees front office stated it “did not have the confidence that the [Staten Island Yankees] organization could continue to allow us to develop our players in the best possible way.”
Staten Island’s loss is thus the lower Hudson Valley’s gain, with the Renegades now part of the pinstripes.
The Yankees noted that the decision to flip the minor league teams was due in part to an existing relationship it has with Renegades owner Marvin Goldklang, of the Goldklang Group, who has been a “longstanding partner and associate of the Steinbrenner family.”
Along with being part of the storied Yankees comes high expectations. Will fans see a different level of play in Dutchess?
“The Renegades had been a Short Season Single-A affiliate of the Rays and will now be a Full Season High Single-A affiliate of the Yankees,” says Gliner.
The Renegades played 36 home games, but, with the new restructuring, they will play 140 games, with 70 at home.
“Full Season High–A,” Gliner explains, “is two steps ahead of where the Renegades had been for their entire history. It is a much higher level of baseball than what fans here have seen in the past.”
Gliner goes on to explain that “The higher the level of play, the more likely a player will reach the major leagues. I cannot give you a specific percentage of how many make it, because it varies based on the MLB organization.
“When I was with the Minnesota Twins in the Florida State League (also a High-A league at the time), there was one point when more than half of the Twins’ 25–man Major League roster had played in Fort Myers at one point in their career.”
Gliner says the team has no plans for a name change. He hinted that promotional opportunities could include appearances at Dutchess Stadium by past Yankee players, along with possible rehab assignments for current Yankees.
He adds it is possible that injured Yankees, once off the inactive list, could play a couple of games with the Renegades prior to rejoining the major league roster.
In the midst of an unpredictable pandemic, where we’ve been thrown more curveballs than a Yankee slugger like Aaron Judge, Gliner looks forward to the 2021 season, when hopefully fans will be able to once again gather with their friends and family to enjoy a brew and a dog while they cheer on the home team for a bloop and a blast.
“That’s what we’ve always been about,” says Gliner: “The opportunity for people to come and experience a great night out at the ballpark.”
A native of Colorado, Samantha Jambor now spends her time as a writer in Tarrytown.