PEORIA — The 2020 Peoria Chiefs season waited as April drifted into May and melted into June and then, on Tuesday, faded on into never as Minor League Baseball officially canceled the season for all of its 160 teams.


The Peoria Chiefs 2020 Midwest League season won't happen. They share that fate among 160 minor-league teams — all affiliated with Major League parent clubs — across the country.


"It's something we never really believed would happen," said Peoria Chiefs infielder Brendan Donovan, who hit .266 with eight homers and 53 RBIs in Peoria last summer. "It's stunning. I feel so bad for the community, the stadium and the workers and fans — in Peoria and around baseball. The fans in Peoria, the organization, everyone was so good to us. We loved it there.


"It's crazy times. This is what everyone has to deal with (the impact of COVID-19). I'm not totally sure what plans the Cardinals have for us."


Neither is former big league shortstop Erick Almonte, who was scheduled to return to Peoria for a second season as Chiefs manager. He waits now for an assignment from the parent Cardinals.


"It is hard to even express how we all feel, in a normal year I should be traveling all around the Midwest League cities, watching young players develop their talent, watching young players go to the struggles of playing 140 games for the first time," Almonte said. "Instead of that, we all received this bad news.


"We are baseball players, this is what we do from the time we were 4, 5, 6 years old. But right now the main thing is to stay safe and take care of our family. Hard to digest but will be back soon."


Major League Baseball notified MiLB on Tuesday that it would not provide any players for the 2020 season.


MiLB canceled its season in the following statement from MiLB president and CEO Pat O'Conner:


"These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we've had a summer without minor league baseball played. While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021season of affordable family entertainment."


How many of those teams will be around for 2021 remains in question. MLB, before COVID-19 hit, was demanding a reduction of 40 minor league teams nationwide.


There could be that many, or more, who struggle to continue after the financial hit that 2020 has delivered.


We might have seen the last of Midwest League teams Clinton and Burlington, and Quad Cities, all reported to be on MLB's chopping block before the pandemic hit.


The Chiefs are among the casualties of a 140-game season that never happened.


"While the cancellation of the season is disappointing, the safety of our fans and staff are our top priority," Chiefs general manager Jason Mott said. "COVID-19 has created unprecedented circumstances across the world, but we will continue to push towards the future and look forward to welcoming guests back in 2021."


The parent club Cardinals have announced their 60-man camp as MLB prepares for spring training 2.0 this week. There are 18 former Chiefs on that list, although Donovan is not among them.


He has been training near his home in Madison, Ala. The Cardinals have been paying their minor leaguers a stipend, and Donovan really has no job options other than to perhaps charge fees as a personal coach for amateur players.


"When I first got drafted, I was delayed by a wrist injury," Donovan said. "That was tough to get back up to speed from that time missed.


"You have to play and be in competition to develop. I'll be getting live at-bats against college and pro arms that I work out against down here.


"But it will be tough to simulate a 140-game season."


Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or deminian@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.