Upper Levels Reign In Licensing Game
Minor League Baseball recently released its annual list of the teams that ranked among the top 25 teams in terms of licensed marketing sales, and there were some usual suspects and some newcomers. As usual, the list wasn’t ranked, so it’s unclear which team was the overall winner, but there were six teams that continued their streaks of dominance. Those six—the Durham Bulls, Trenton Thunder, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, El Paso Chihuahuas, Sacramento River Cats and Columbia Fireflies—have found themselves on the top 25 list every year since its inception in 1993 or for the entirety of their franchise’s existence.
There were seven newcomers to the list this year: The Reading Fightin Phils, Buffalo Bisons, Rochester Red Wings, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Albuquerque Isotopes, New Orleans Baby Cakes and Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. The Baby Cakes and Jumbo Shrimp, it should be noted, did not exist in 2016 and made the list in their first year of existence.
This year’s list featured a slightly wider swath of teams than in previous years. Last year, 20 major league clubs placed affiliates on the list. This year, that number increased to 21 clubs. Four big league teams—the Marlins, Padres, Phillies and Rockies—each placed two affiliates on the list.
One trend that immediately jumps out is the way the list skews toward upper-level affiliates. Sixteen of the 25 teams on the list play in Triple-A leagues, and six more play in one of the three Double-A leagues. That leaves just three at low Class A, and none at high Class A, that found their way on to the list. That’s a change from 2016, when the Lake Elsinore Storm represented high Class A. The same was true in 2015, when both the Carolina League and Florida State League were shut out.
Overall, clubs sold $70.8 million worth of merchandise in 2017, besting the record they had set in 2016 by 3.6 percent.
“Minor League Baseball team names and logos continue to be among the most popular in all of professional sports, and our teams have made promoting their brand a priority for their respective organizations,” MiLB COO Brian Earle said in a statement announcing the totals. “The teams have done a tremendous job of using their team marks and logos to build an identity that is appealing to fans not just locally, but in some cases, globally as well.”
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|2017 TOP 25 MILB LICENSING TEAMS|
|Team (Major League Affiliation)||League|
|Albuquerque Isotopes (Rockies)#||Pacific Coast|
|Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays)#||International|
|Charlotte Knights (White Sox)||International|
|Columbia Fireflies (Mets)*||South Atlantic|
|Columbus Clippers (Indians)||International|
|Durham Bulls (Rays)*||International|
|El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres)*||Pacific Coast|
|Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres)#||Midwest|
|Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers)||Texas|
|Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies)#||Eastern|
|Indianapolis Indians (Pirates)||International|
|Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Marlins)#||Southern|
|Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies)*||International|
|Nashville Sounds (Athletics)||Pacific Coast|
|New Orleans Baby Cakes (Marlins)#||Pacific Coast|
|Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals)||Pacific Coast|
|Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox)||Eastern|
|Reading Fightin Phils (Phillies)#||Eastern|
|Rochester Red Wings (Twins)#||International|
|Sacramento River Cats (Giants)*||Pacific Coast|
|Salt Lake Bees (Angels)||Pacific Coast|
|South Bend Cubs (Cubs)||Midwest|
|Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners)||Pacific Coast|
|Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers)||International|
|Trenton Thunder (Yankees)*||Eastern|
* = Made the list every year or each year of the team's existence
# = Team returned to the list after not appearing in 2016.