My post regarding the ideal Montreal Expos system has received a lot of clicks, so I will attempt to do the same with the Blue Jays. Each affiliate will be chosen in order to maximize the club’s exposure across Canada and/or in Southern Ontario.
AAA – Buffalo – International League
The Blue Jays current affiliation with the Buffalo Bisons is the best case scenario for them. I know, I said exposure across Canada is the goal with setting up this farm system, but being on the border doesn’t really hurt Buffalo in this regard. The location is still within a short drive of Southern Ontario, allowing fans to go see future Blue Jays in action. Also, being within a two hour drive of Toronto allows for easy call ups to the Jays when needed. Being affiliated with the Bisons also plants the Blue Jay flag in the competitive Western New York market where the Jays, Yankees, Mets, Pirates and Indians all claim as their territory. Having Jays prospects here gives the locals a connection to the Jays that’s lacking with the other four aforementioned teams.
AA – Hamilton – Eastern League
The city of Hamilton hasn’t had a minor league team since the New York Penn League’s Redbirds left town after the 1992 season. Since then, the only baseball in Steel Town has been the Intercounty League’s Cardinals. Having a AA team in the Golden Horseshoe would help the Jays with call ups and send downs from AA to AAA to MLB as the organizations top three teams would all be within a couple hours drive of each other (Toronto, Buffalo & Hamilton).
High A – Dunedin – Florida State League
The Jays current High A team is the Dunedin Blue Jays and has been since 1987. The team is considering moving elsewhere, but it is best to keep both the High A team and Jay’s spring training on the Gulf Coast. This would allow the team to keep current rivalries (with include the Yankees, Red Sox & Phillies).
Low A – Kitchener – Midwest League
Kitchener hasn’t had minor league baseball since the Colts of the 1925 Michigan-Ontario League. The city is also almost a four hour drive from the nearest MWL team in Lansing (current Blue Jays affiliate). But is a short drive from London, where we placed the neo-Expos affiliate. If this were to happen the London-Kitchener rivalry could not only piggyback the (hypothetical) Jays-Expos rivalry but also feed off the current OHL rivalry between the London Knights and Kitchener Rangers.
Short Season A – Halifax – New York Penn League
As mentioned in previous posts, Halifax is the largest metropolitan area in Canada/USA to never have a professional ball team. Also, Halifax is a long ways to Vermont, the closest NYPL team to the city, but we placed the Expo’s Short Season affiliate in Moncton, giving this team a travel partner; makings this a possible landing spot for the Jays NYPL affiliate. This would also give the Maritimes a connection to the Jays. Such a scenario would give them a presence from coast to coast. If the Maritimes isn’t an option, the Jays can place a NYPL affiliate somewhere in Ontario, perhaps a return to St. Catherines or somewhere in in suburban Toronto.
Short Season A – Vancouver – Northwest League
I decided to give the Jays two affiliates at this level to help them reach the goal of having coast to coast affiliates. The Jays are currently affiliated with the Vancouver Canadians and the partnership has been successful in terms of both championships and record attendance.
Rookie – Alberta – Pioneer League
The Jays used to be affiliated with the Medicine Hat Blue Jays. Alberta, used to be home to minor league teams in Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat (2002) and Lethbridge (1998). Having placed the Expos affiliate here, we could have a baseball version of the Battle of Alberta, with both teams affiliated with another Canadian team.
Below this you just have the complex leagues and foreign rookie leagues (Dominican & Venezuelan), which we will not go into any detail on.
Under this system the Jays would have two affiliates out west, two in Ontario, and one in the Maritimes. Plus another one in nearby Buffalo. By concentrating on Canada when building a farm system the Jays can help awareness of their brand coast to coast. This in turn would help with things like TV ratings and merchandise sales.