Q&A: All about the International League

Have a question about the Atlanta Braves moving their Class AAA team in Gwinnett County? Staff correspondent Guy Curtright tries to supply some answers.

Q: How long is the season in the International League?

A: The International League plays a 144-game regular season - 18 fewer than in the majors. The season runs from early April to early September.

Q: How big is the International League and is it the only AAA league?

A: There are 14 teams in the International League and 16 in the Pacific Coast League, the other AAA league. Gwinnett will be in a four-team South Division with Charlotte, Durham and Norfolk. Teams from the North and West Divisions will each make just one trip to Gwinnett.

Q: Which International League team is farthest away from Gwinnett?

A: Pawtucket, R.I. There was a team in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. But that team is moving to Pennsylvania for next season.

Q: How do International League teams travel?

A: This isn't a bus league. Teams travel by plane, primarily.

Q: How much do tickets cost in AAA?

A: Richmond charged $12 for box seats, $8 for reserved and $7 for general admission last season, with kids getting in for $5. Expect the prices to be slightly higher when the team moves to Gwinnett.

Q: How many fans do AAA teams draw?

A: Minor league baseball has boomed in recent years, with a record attendance last season for the sixth straight year. Richmond ranked near the bottom of the IL last season with an attendance of just under 350,000. Some AAA teams draw double that.

Q: Do some top prospects skip AAA?

A: Yes. Gwinnett County products Jeff Francoeur (Parkview) and Brian McCann (Duluth) were promoted to Atlanta directly from Class AA Mississippi in 2005. But most players pass through AAA on the way to the majors.

Q: Who might the Gwinnett manager be?

A: Dave Brundage will manage Richmond for a second season this year. He led the team to the International League Governors' Cup championship in 2007.

Q: What might the roster look like in 2009?

A: It's sure to be dotted with a few top major league prospects, as well as numerous veteran minor leaguers hoping for their shot in the big leagues. A top prospect that could be ready for AAA as early as 2009 is speedy outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, obtained last fall from Detroit in the Edgar Renteria deal. The Braves' top young pitching prospects are left-handers Cole Rohrbough and Jeff Locke, and right-hander Tommy Hanson.

Q: Could the Gwinnett team have a player from the county?

A: Former Parkview and Georgia Tech standout Tim Gustafson pitched at Class A Rome last season and should be ready for AAA in a few years.