AAA baseball or “Triple A Baseball” is the highest level of minor league baseball. Most players who are on the verge of being moved into Major League Baseball (“the Big Leagues”) will be found playing on a AAA baseball team. AAA teams (and all minor league clubs) are also known as “farm teams”, because they develop the players to be used by a major league franchise. All MLB baseball clubs have their own AAA farm teams.
Triple-A minor league baseball teams are usually found in the largest metropolitan cities without major league baseball teams. The Triple-A baseball season is shorter than the 162-game MLB schedule, with minor league seasons ending before September 1st every year. This allows for minor leaguers from AAA to be called up after September 1 to the expanded “40-man roster”, which allows teams to see how their most talented or promising minor league players look like against real major league competition. Before Sept. 1, major league teams only have 25-man rosters.
What is AAA Baseball and Where Are Triple-A Clubs Found?
There are two AAA baseball leagues where the main AAA farm teams for American League and National League baseball teams are found: the Pacific Coast League and the International League. There is a third league, the Mexican League, that is considered a AAA baseball league, but these 16 baseball teams are not directly linked to MLB franchises. You’ll see that the AAA-ball clubs are often (but not always) relatively close to the major league club, to allow quick call-ups and the ability of the team’s scouts and front office personnel to watch the farm system talent. See the Toronto Blue Jays for an example of a team which definitely does not hold to that philosophy (with its AAA team in Las Vegas).
AAA Baseball Teams and Their Major League Clubs
Pacific Coast League
- Albuquerque Isotopes – Los Angeles Dodgers
- Colorado Springs Sky Sox – Colorado Rockies
- Fresno Grizzlies – San Francisco Giants
- Iowa Cubs – Chicago Cubs
- Las Vegas 51s – Toronto Blue Jays
- Memphis Redbirds – St. Louis Cardinals
- Nashville Sounds – Milwaukee Brewers
- New Orleans Zephyrs – Florida Marlins
- Oklahoma City RedHawks – Texas Rangers
- Omaha Royals – Kansas City Royals
- Portland Beavers – San Diego Padres
- Reno Aces – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Round Rock Express – Houston Astros
- Sacramento River Cats – Oakland Athletics
- Salt Lake Bees – Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim)
- Tacoma Rainiers – Seattle Mariners
- Buffalo Bisons – New York Mets
- Charlotte Knights – Chicago White Sox
- Columbus Clippers – Cleveland Indians
- Durham Bulls – Tampa Bay Rays
- Gwinnett Braves – Atlanta Braves
- Indianapolis Indians – Pittburgh Pirates
- Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Philadelphia Phillies
- Louisville Bats – Cincinnati Reds
- Norfolk Tides – Baltimore Orioles
- Pawtucket Red Sox – Boston Red Sox
- Rochester Red Wings – Minnesota Twins
- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees – New York Yankees
- Syracuse Chiefs – Washington Nationals
- Toledo Mud Hens – Detroit Tigers
As you’ll notice, some AAA baseball teams have made it into the pop culture. The Durham Bulls were the inspiration for the name of the movie, “Bull Durham”. On the M.A.S.H. television show, Corporal Max Klinger often mentioned he was a Toledo Mud Hens fan.
What is AAA baseball and what do the AA and A designations mean?
The AAA, AA and A designations are meant to designate the level of play of minor league baseball. The more letters, the better the level of play. Often, a young player drafted or signed by a major league club will start in the Single-A farm system, then gain enough experience and skill to move to that club’s Double-A (AA) farm team. After more seasoning, the player will be moved to the AAA baseball club, and on to the major league roster.
Obviously, some players never make it out of one of these designations, and may spend years playing as a minor league baseball player. There are players in AAA baseball who are called AAAA-ballplayers, because they are experienced and skilled enough to be called up by the major league club for emergency fill-in spots (usually due to injury), but are not skilled enough to stay in the major leagues permanently. So-called “Quadruple-A players” are generally less talented than the younger, up-and-coming AAA players, but are older and have more experience in the game of baseball.
There are other designations besides AAA baseball, AA baseball and A baseball. These is the “short-season A-ball”, rookie ball and “rookie-advanced” ball. These are considered for players below the level of A-baseball, and usually for young and raw players to get playing time.