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Minors Have Gotten Younger And Older After Re-Organization

A year and a half after MLB reshaped the minor leagues, eliminating short-season ball and Rookie leagues outside of the Florida and Arizona complexes, the results are still being discussed and digested. Anecdotally, scouts have talked about the quality of play in Low-A being less consistent and more erratic than before.

But we have some data that indicates how the minors have changed. Because the minors flipped teams from High-A to Low-A and others from short-season and Low-A to High-A, there are no easy ways to compare statistically the environments of those levels before and after the changes. After all, the California League was long the most offensive environment in High-A. Now it's the high-offense league of the Low-A leagues.

But when it comes to age, Low-A remains Low-A, whether those players are playing in California, Iowa or Florida. And when it comes to the average age of players at different levels, the players in Low-A are younger than they were before the minors were reorganized, especially the hitters. Pitchers in Triple-A and Double-A are older than they were under the old system, and the age level in High-A has remained similar to what it was before the reorganization.

The ages used here are gathered from Baseball Reference, which is a weighted average age, based on at-bats and innings pitched.

The most significant differences so far are at the lowest and highest levels of the full-season minors. In Triple-A, pitchers are on average a little older than they were in 2019 and before. And in Low-A, hitters are significantly younger than what they were before.

The 2022 MLB season isn’t over yet, and there’s a chance that the average age, especially in Low-A, may tick up slightly as college draftees filter onto rosters. But even if it does, this year will remain almost assuredly the youngest Low-A rosters of the 21st century.

Before this year, the youngest average age for Low-A hitters in any season since 2001 was 21.3 years old, set last year. This year, Low-A hitters currently on average are 21.0 years old. Other than the past two years, Low-A hitters on average were 21.6 year old, and the youngest age for the average Low-A hitter was 2019 at 21.4 years old.

While hitters in Low-A are getting younger, the pitchers aren’t. In each of the past two years, Low-A pitchers are on average 21.9 years old. That’s right in line with how old they were in 2017, 2018 and 2019. For the 21st century, Low-A pitchers have averaged being 21.7 years old, so pitchers in Low-A in 2021/2022 are a little older than the average age they have been in the 21st century.

At the upper levels of the minors, the pitchers are getting older, while the hitters are right in line with past historical norms. This year’s pitchers in Triple-A are on average more than a half year older than they were before the minors were reorganized, and they are roughly half a year older in Double-A. These trends do not apply to hitters. Triple-A hitters are on average the same age as they were in 2015-2019 and Double-A hitters are only slightly older.

YearTriple-A HittersTriple-A PitchersDouble-A HittersDouble-A PitchersHigh-A HittersHigh-A PitchersLow-A HittersLow-A Pitchers
AVERAGE AGE26.926.824.324.322.823.021.621.7
Elly De La Cruz (Photo By Dylan Buell Getty Images) (1)

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