Here is the Salary in Minor League baseball

LeagueSalary per month
First professional year$1,100
Rookie level$1,150
Low Class A$1,300
Advanced Class A$1,500
AAA$2,150 – $2,700 (depends on the years of service)

What is Minor League Baseball and How its System Works

Minor League Baseball (MiLB), formerly the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL), is an umbrella organization for the comprehensive system of professional minor leagues in baseball governed by the Major League Baseball (MLB).

Almost everyone who ever played in Major League Baseball started their career in Minor League Baseball.

The clubs in Minor League Baseball are mainly in the United States, but also in Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

The MLB clubs have several subsidiary teams divided into categories and assign the players who arrive via draft or free agency to those teams according to the level that the management of the main team sees in them. As the level of play increases, players advance through the system to higher leagues. The ultimate goal is to reach the MLB.

On the other hand, if the players do not show signs of improvement, they can be demoted to teams of a lower category or cut directly to make space for the new player that come to the organization. This of course also influences their salary in Minor League Baseball.

The Minor Leagues are also popularly known as the “Farm System”, since it seems that the franchises plant the seeds of what they expect to be great players (the prospects) in the Minor Leagues. The advantage for the players is that they have time to develop and improve their skills. For the clubs this system secures a fresh supply of new and developed players for the MLB team.

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How did this system come about?

The system, as we know it today, was created by one of the great geniuses of baseball history Branch Rickey, best known for being the General Manager (GM) of the Brooklyn Dodgers who hired Jackie Robinson.

In 1916 Rickey was hired as GM of the St. Louis Cardinals. At this time the way to hire new players who were not already competing in the Major Leagues was to hire them from independent teams. This was very expensive, which lead to the wealthier clubs like the Cubs or Giants hiring the big stars of the independent competitions. This was a huge disadvantage for smaller clubs like the St. Louis Cardinals.

As a method to counteract this disadvantage, it occurred to Rickey to convince the owner of the franchise, Sam Breadon, to buy equipment in the different minor leagues in order to control them. By doing this Rickey figured that the good players were to come to St. Louis instead of going somewhere else like New York City. This system basically created a small monopoly for the Redbirds, as they now had a large supply of upcoming players and they did not have to worry about the best players being stolen by a different club.

A few years later, the Redbirds came to control up to 40 different independent teams. At the same time players were promoted to a higher league or degraded to a lower league according to their development and performance. This increased intra-team competition which also lead to better performances.

The system was a success, since between 1926 and 1946 the Redbirds won 9 National League Championships and 6 World Series Championships.

Even though success proved the system to work, several teams were not convinced and kept their old structure. The most famous club to not adapt the Farm System were the New York Yankees.

Only when Rickey went to the Dodgers and established another successful Farm System, the last teams that doubted its effectiveness were convinced and created their own organizations.

It can be said that using the Minors to develop a Farm System was an ancestor of Money ball when it came to cutting the disadvantages of the teams with more economic resources.

Throughout history there have been different classifications of these lower categories, including already extinct levels such as the Open, A1, B, C and D.

The current classification is based mainly on the great restructuring carried out in 1963. Let’s analyze those categories from lowest to highest:


It’s the lowest category in the Minor Leagues and the newly selected prospects in the draft are usually assigned to this level. This level pays the lowest salary in Minor League Baseball.

A short season is held from the end of June to the end of August or the beginning of September. It consists of the Appalachian League, Pioneer League (which are known as Advanced Rookie Leagues), Arizona League and Gulf Coast League.

In addition, the Dominican Summer League (DSL) and the Venezuelan Summer League are included in this level, in which the big clubs have teams that focus on young Caribbean players.

Most MLB franchises have created baseball academies in the Dominican Republican in which the prospects that dispute the DSL can focus on improving their physical and sports skills. Additionally, these players are learning English and receiving American culture classes in order to prepare for a possible future in the United States.

Due to the massive entry of players, because of the drafts and international signings, the franchises usually have more than one team in this level. These teams are then spread across the different leagues.

This allows the clubs to handle a larger amount of potential new players for their MLB roster and allows for enough time to train the player. Quantity before quality is the idea here.

Class A – Short Season

As its name suggests, a short season of about 75 games (sounds a lot I know but consider the 162 MLB games in one season….) is played from mid-June to early September. Players that have been drafted in the first round usually directly go to this level of competition.

The late start allows high school and college players to complete their studies and competitions before joining professionalism. Given how much players in the minor leagues earn (more on this later in this post), it is very sensible for high school and college players to finish their studies.

Class A – SS is usually the first league where wooden bats are used, and it is made up of the New York – Penn League and the Northwest League. In total there are 22 teams between the two leagues and the other eight MLB franchises have their Short Season teams in the Appalachian League and the Rookie level Pioneer League.

Class A:

Class A consists of two leagues: the South Atlantic League and the Midwest League.

At this level managers are looking for their pitchers to improve control of pitches and for batters to begin to get results more consistently after getting used to the wooden bats.

Class A – Advanced:

The vast majority of players have already gone through one or two levels before, although a few very prominent prospects (mainly college players, especially pitchers) can start directly in this category.

There are three leagues: California League, Florida State League and Carolina League. Interestingly many of the teams of the Florida State League play in the city where their MLB franchise concentrates during the Spring Training. The Florida State League teams use those same facilities to train and the stadiums to play at home.

Class AA:

The players who reach this category are young high level players, who can begin to trust that they will reach the Majors shortly.

Some of the best prospects even go directly to MLB from this category (Manny Machado is one of these cases).

Players signed to the highest baseball categories in countries such as Japan and Cuba can start in the Double-A class, since they have already accumulated basic experience.

You will find three leagues: Eastern League, Southern League and Texas League.

The Southern League and the Texas League play a regular season divided in two halves. The winners of each division after the first half of the season achieve their Playoff classification and the balance sheets are reset to zero.

The winners of each of the divisions in the second half also get a post in the postseason. If there is an empty spot, Wildcards are awarded. This system is also used in some of the other Class A leagues.

Class AAA:

This is the highest level in the Minor Leagues! It also pays the highest salary in Minor League Baseball.

There are two different leagues at this level, the International League and the Pacific Coast League.

The squad of the teams playing at this level usually includes the 15 men of the 40-man-roster that the MLB franchise has not included in the active roster of 25 players.

There is also the Mexican Baseball League which is officially considered Triple A, but their teams are not related to any MLB franchise.

Players Earnings in Different Minor Leagues

MiLB (Minor League Baseball) prospects are among the worst paid professional athletes.

A player who plays at “short season” level A earns $1100 US per month. This is considered a mediocre salary in Minor League baseball.

In the AA, he gets $1,700 a month and that salary then goes up by $100 a month for every year of service.

In the AAA ranks, players pocket $2150 a month in their first year, which is a good salary in Minor League Baseball.

In all cases, they are paid only during the season (April to September).

Take a look at how other jobs are being paid, in order to understand the conditions these players have to work under:

In the United States, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour which results in a paycheck worth $1,160 for a regular 40-hour work week.

That mean that players in level A earn less than federal minimum wage.

At first glance players in level AA or higher seems to be off okay. Slightly more money than federal minimum wage and they get to do what they love and maybe even make a few millions in a few years. Sweet!

But stop! Minor league baseball players do not work 40 hours a week. Their average work week is 60-70 hours. Let’s better not calculate their hourly wage or consider the salary of some MLB players….

So, minor league players are earning less than the minimum wage threshold and, ironically, would be making more money working in a fast food chain.

The worst thing is that a law recently introduced in Congress made sure it stays that way.

How Minor League Baseball Players Lost Minimum Wage Protection

A small piece of legislation hidden in the recent US $1.3 billion congressional budget by the US federal officials has enshrined the right of minor AAA, AA, A and company teams to pay their players less than the minimum wage.

Theoretically, the Save America’s Pastime Act forces employers to pay the equivalent of a 40-hour minimum wage week. Since this federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 an hour, a player cannot be paid less than $1160 a month.

Realistically it allows teams to forget the fact that their players spend much more than 40 hours a week at work.

All of this happened because of a legal change on the sly, on page 1967 of a 2000-page document in the recent US budget.

A budget adopted by Congress and ratified by Donald Trump in just a few days.

Total Money Spent in the Major Leagues VS the Minor Leagues

Everyone already knows that the major leagues baseball players make the big bucks and that is no surprise to anybody who knows anything about baseball.

Major League guys make tons of money but what people do not know is that Minor League guys cannot get that kind of salary.

The Major League player, if he stays on the roster, safely makes $550,000 a year. If he goes down, that’s a different story.

A baseball player in the minors can earn between $10,000 and $13,000 a season.

MLB and MiLB salaries are even not comparable!

Structure of salaries in the minor leagues

LeagueSalary per month
First professional year$1,100
Rookie level$1,150
Low Class A$1,300
Advanced Class A$1,500
AAA$2,150 – $2,700 (depends on the years of service)

Wages increase $50 per month each year that the player repeats the level. Players also receive a lodging allowance and $25 per day while traveling.

Compared that to Max Scherzer’s yearly salary, who is the highest paid baseball player in 2019 and makes $42.1 million, this is an ansolute joke.

Baseball players in the minors, those who do not belong to the Roster of 40, must continue working to survive when the season ends. Some go to winter leagues, others simply work.

So, do you really want to become a professional baseball player? We only here about the players that make a ton of money and have luxurious lifestyles, but getting there is really rough and most players do not make it.

Get home safe,


2 replies on “Salary in Minor League Baseball”

    1. Thanks for your comment Steve! 🙂

      I am glad that you liked the post. Pretty intersting to see that Minor League players earn so much less than the big names in the MLB, isn’t it?

      Again, thanks a lot for reading the post and leaving a comment. 🙂

      Get home safe,

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