Summer 2001 … the Kane County Cougars are in town taking on the Lansing Lugnuts. Future Hall of Famer and the most dominant hitter in baseball today, then 18-year old Miguel Cabrera steps up to the plate. I’m guessing that most Lansing baseball fans weren’t keeping close enough tabs on the Lugnuts to notice one of history’s best players was in the middle of a road trip in town. Since women are the highest growing category of baseball fans, making up about half, I want to make sure the female fans in Lansing know what is at their disposal downtown all summer long. In order to do that, let’s shed some light on the process that the boys of summer go through from their days playing for the Lugnuts, all the way to the Major League. On a very basic level there are six tiers of professional baseball before a player makes it to “The Majors.” Those tiers consist of two short season teams, Single-A, Advanced Single-A, AA and AAA level teams. Each Major League team has an affiliation with one team at each of those levels from which they “farm” talent for their future success. For instance, the Toronto Blue Jays have our Lansing Lugnuts for their Single-A affiliate, then the Dunedin Blue Jays in Florida, then the New Hampshire Fisher Cats then finally the Buffalo Bison, as their AAA affiliate, which in theory are the players closest to joining the Blue Jays in the Majors. With so many levels of pro-ball, even I was unsure how it’s decided which players go where. So I sat down with Nick Grueser, GM of the Lansing Lugnuts to clear some things up. Here’s the skinny … Scouts who work for the Toronto Blue Jays (Major League) search out talented high school and college ball players throughout the country and South America. Once they have a good crop of potential talent, the players are sent to spring training to be evaluated alongside the Major League players. At the end of spring training, each player is assigned to a team at one of the six minor league levels and in theory, that’s where they spend the season. In summary, to all my lady baseball lovers out there, take a moment this summer to take in a Mid-West League game. It might be Single-A ball, but you never know which kid out there might be the next Miguel Cabrera.