Welcome to the 2022 season! With spring finally here (we think) and teams formed, we are excited to start playing ball this weekend. We are committed to making this season the best one yet! As always, our top priority is providing a quality baseball experience for all kids. Baseball should be fun, challenging, and fulfilling. Success for us is keeping as many kids in baseball for as long as we can. We believe the impact we can have on kids through this association extends far beyond baseball!
We have implemented changes at each league level to provide an excellent baseball experience. A few examples are: new rules at the Instructional League age to increase the amount of interaction and baseballs put in play during games, new league formats and coaching support at the JM/AL/NL levels to increase the proper amount of closely competitive games, and additionally we are bringing back the Sitzer Special with the re-opening of the concession stand!
While keeping our focus on the current season, we want to take this opportunity to highlight a significant shift that will be implemented starting with the 2023 season. For decades we have been proud supporters of, and partners with, Little League baseball for IL/JM/AL/NL. As all things change with time, we have been monitoring a decline in Little League's participating associations throughout the state. As more communities move away from Little League governance, the opportunity for quality All-Star season experiences diminishes. Currently, only three (3) teams remain in our District, and only fifteen (15) communities statewide participate in the Little League program. Additionally, only a small portion of players aged 10-12 are offered the opportunity to take part in the Little League All-Star experience. The resulting consequence is that the majority of SAYB participants are not offered baseball opportunities after June each season.
So what are we doing? Here’s the exciting part. In pursuit of our goal to provide the best experience for all ball players, we have made the decision to modify our affiliation after the 2022 season and move away from the Little League brand. Currently, SAYB Big Leaguers, ages 13-15, play under MYAS (Gopher State) governance. Starting in 2023, we will be extending this offering down through age 10. This will provide travel baseball opportunities for those interested, ages 10-15. In addition, we will be maintaining our recreational leagues as you know them today. These primarily “in-house” leagues (IL, JM, AL) do not require affiliation with any outside governance, allowing SAYB to have more control over league formats, rules, and the ability to make improvements that maximize the experience for the kids.
For some, the idea of “governance” and the changes outlined may seem confusing. That's ok! We will be working to provide clear messaging along the way so that every family feels fully informed. The important takeaway is that we will continue to deliver high quality recreational baseball programming for kids aged 6-12, much like we do today. The biggest change will be an extension of our traveling baseball offerings down to age 10. This will provide a traveling option for ball players ages 10-15, which will take the place of our current Little League All-Star team model.
While parting ways with Little League is certainly bittersweet, we believe that the best is yet to come. Throughout the 2022 season, we will be providing additional information and answering questions to ensure that we are all prepared for this transition in 2023. We are committed to serving our community well, and our guiding principles remain unchanged. Thank you for supporting youth baseball. We can’t wait to get back on the field with our SAYB family.
Jake Bruhnding, SAYB President
Why are we making the change?
First and foremost, we have truly loved our partnership with Little League and the experience it has provide the kids. Unfortunately, in recent years the number of communities that participate in Little League has significantly decreased, which has affected the quality of our post-season All Star experience. Currently, only three (3) teams remain in our District, and only fifteen (15) communities statewide participate in the Little League program. Additionally, only a small portion of players aged 10-12 are offered the opportunity to take part in the Little League All Star experience. The resulting consequence is that the majority of SAYB participants are not offered baseball opportunities after June each season.
With this change, we will have the opportunity to offer baseball opportunities, for both recreational and travel league participants from April-July. We believe that this is a great benefit and will allow us to serve the community better.
How will this change affect my family?
Children under the age of 10, only minor rule changes implemented by SAYB to make the game more enjoyable and increase development will apply. Our IL and JM leagues will remain in place.
Children aged 10-12 who wish to participate in the Recreational league will also be offered a very similar experience as is offered today. The primary difference is that there will not be a post-season All-Star experience offered through Little League. We do intend to extend baseball into July for all recreational players, something that we have not been able to meaningfully provide previously.
Children aged 10-12 who wish to participate in the Travel program will be placed on teams based on tryouts. Travel teams will operate through July. Competition will include other metro Travel associations (MYAS) and tournaments as selected by the Coaches and families.
Leagues for ages 13-15 will not be changed and will continue to participate in MYAS Travel baseball.
When will the new structure take effect?
The new structure will take effect at the conclusion of the 2022 season. Registration and Tryout details will be provided later into the 2022 season. This change will be in full effect for the 2023 season.
Which league is right for me?
See the league pages for descriptions and details regarding dates, costs, and expectations for each league. These pages will be in development throughout the summer of 2022 so if they aren't active yet follow the guidance below. Determine the right league for your child by first aligning your child's grade for the upcoming season and the available leagues for that age group. If Recreational and Traveling options are available, consider the following:
Recreational Leagues: These offerings provide classic neighborhood baseball, playing with and against your schoolmates and neighbors. Recreational leagues will prioritize fun and development, often requiring only a 3-4 day per week commitment throughout the season. These leagues tend to be the most cost effective and are a great option for those who are new and developing players who want to improve and enjoy a summer of fun with their pals.
Travel Leagues: These offerings provide a more competitive environment and more advanced development focus. Travel leagues are still loaded with fun, while also seeking to challenge players at each level. The commitment level for Travel leagues is typically 5-6 days per week of programming throughout the season and carries a higher cost. This is a great option for advanced players and those who aspire to play competitively through high school and beyond.
How are tryouts handled?
As a part of the change, we are adjusting our tryout process to offer a more complete analysis of each player. Tryouts will continue to occur late winter, targeting February for 2023. This provides the best opportunity for players who have significant physical growth or skill development throughout the offseason to be recognized and placed on the correct team. We will be pursuing a "fieldhouse" level tryout location to allow for longer throws and better simulate real baseball action. Additionally, we will be asking coaches to provide evaluations of each player at the conclusion of each season, starting in 2022 so that tryout scores can be weighed against each player's body of work in real baseball action. We believe this will remove some of the tryout pressure and increase the accuracy of placement for each player. Our goal is to place players on teams/levels that will benefit them the most in their development. This means that the best opportunity for each player is not always AAA (the most advanced level). Being placed at the right level will maximize the opportunities for each player to gain experience at key positions, pitch meaningful innings, and face pitching that allows them to be successful. More details regarding tryouts will be provided throughout the offseason.
When do I need to register?
Registration dates for 2023 will be confirmed later in the year, but it is anticipated that registration for all leagues will run from December 1 - February 1. Those pursuing Travel baseball should prioritize the early portion of the registration window as we will be registering for tournaments as early as January/February for the upcoming season. Having a clear picture of the number of participants and registration fees submitted allows league directors to confidently register teams for these tournaments.
What are the age requirements for each league?
SAYB's goal is to allow ball players to play with their Grade, just as they will do through high school. League placement will be by Grade with a cutoff date of May 1. This means that a player may not exceed the age associated with the league level on May 1 of the participating season. For example, if your child is 12 years old on May 1, they would not be eligible to play on the 11U team. Playing up will be allowed but should be determined in consultation with the SAYB board and for travel leagues must remain in compliance with MYAS rules (Maximum two levels up from natural league for ages 10-13).
Overall, our goal is inclusion and not exclusion based on age. We are here to help if you feel your child's situation does not fit neatly into this framework. A simplified overview is provided below:
Instructional League (Rec): Grades K-2
Junior-Minor League (Rec): Grades 3-4
American League (Rec): Grades 5-6
10U Travel Teams: Grade 4, Age 10
11U Travel Teams: Grade 5, Age 11
12U Travel Teams: Grade 6, Age 12
13U Travel Teams: Grade 7, Age 13
14U Travel Teams: Grade 8, Age 14
15U Travel Teams: Grade 9, Age 15
How many traveling teams will each age group include?
The number of traveling teams at each level will be determined by the participation numbers and evaluation of the participating players' skill levels. MYAS utilizes a AAA, AA, and A tiered system that allows each association to create teams within that framework.
AAA - The highest and most competitive level. Generally, participating baseball associations will have one AAA team at each age level.
AA - The intermediate level of play. This will be made up of players who are on the edge of AAA, as well as those who are still developing but have quality baseball experience already. It is common for players to participate in AA baseball and have very successful careers at the high school level and beyond. It's all about development pace and opportunity, which is unique to each player. Year to year, SAYB may be able to fill more than one AA team at specific age levels, based on participation numbers.
A - The development level of traveling baseball. This level is often used to place teams trying to prepare for a higher level of play. This provides a travel experience for players that may be newer to baseball, or who would benefit from more fundamental development. For some at this level, the Rec experience may be preferred and offer a similar or better quality of baseball experience for their situation. We will work with players who are unsure of which option is most advantageous to them. Depending on participation levels, an A level team may or may not be provided at each age level year to year.
What if I don't make the traveling team?
Players who register for but are not selected for a traveling team will be provided the opportunity to participate within the recreational league associated with their age group. Our goal is to field traveling teams for all that are interested, however cannot guarantee all players will be rostered on a traveling team. For players interested in making a future traveling team, SAYB will provide development opportunities and resources to assist in the growth and development of the player. We are committed to ALL of our baseball participants and the support of helping them reach their goals. We want to see players develop and benefit from offseason effort so that they are able to be well prepared for the next season's tryout process. This is a critical attribute of a healthy program. Additionally, it is completely normal for young ball players' skills to develop at different rates, just as their bodies do. Don't be discouraged! Keep working and great things are possible. We got your back!
Do the bat standards change?
Previously, only bats labeled as USA compliant were approved for play for players in grades K-6. Starting in 2023, bats labeled as USSSA will also be permitted for the Travel leagues. Please keep this in mind if intending to purchase any new bats throughout this summer.