Major League Baseball salaries have soared since 1976, with the average earnings growing by 2,000 percent.

In the minor leagues, though, it's a much different story. Salaries have increased by just 75 percent during that same span of time -- compared to economic inflation of 400 percent.

The growth has been so stagnant that many minor leaguers now make less than minimum wage.

That's the argument in a new lawsuit filed on behalf of minor leaguers, anyway. According to a report from the Toronto Star, 32 former players have combined on a lawsuit that could destroy the current minor league salary system.

The lawsuit contends that while MLB is a $9 billion industry, only chump change is passed down to the minor leagues, where professional clubs cultivate their talent.

Players can work up to 60 or 70 hours a week during the regular season, but their salaries are paltry: Just $6,250 per season for the average single-A salary, with some players signing for less than $5,000.

That's about three to five times less than basketball players make in the NBA's D-League. In the NHL's minor leagues, the pay is even better -- and comes with benefits.

NHL minor leagues are unionized, which has helped them establish better income opportunities for their players. In minor league baseball, no such union exists.

Not yet, anyway.

The lawsuit contends that baseball preys upon players that are so determined to chase a dream that they take whatever they can get -- even if their earnings put them well below the poverty line.

Only 10 percent of the 6,000 minor league players ever make it to the majors, where the minimum salary is $500,000. But far fewer stick around long enough to build a major league career. If the lawsuit has its way, the majority that never reaches baseball's biggest stage will still walk away with something to show for their efforts.

The latest episode of HBO's Real Sports also looks into this issue. Here's a snippet:

Related Story: Only 5 Current NBA Players Make More Money Than Shaq