After a very busy November 30, the MLB is more than halfway there.
MLB has announced the formation of the MLB Draft League, which will include five former affiliate clubs. MLB also announced that all eight Pioneer League teams will transition to a new partner professional league for 2021.
With the previous announcement that the 10-team Appalachian League would transition to an amateur wood-bat summer league, the MLB has now announced destinations for 23 formerly affiliated clubs. MLB also said it plans to announce a sixth team for the MLB Draft League shortly.
With the expected moves from St. Paul, Somerset and Sugar Land to Independent League Affiliate Baseball, it is believed that 43 teams that were part of Affiliate Baseball will be excluded from MLB’s 120-team minor league format in the future.
The MLB Draft League and Pioneer League announcements are another indication that MLB is about to finish informing the 120 teams it is inviting to be in affiliate baseball in the future.
But Monday’s news was significant in itself, as two new leagues were formed that will fill new places in the baseball landscape.
The MLB Draft League will be a 68-game amateur wood-batting summer league scheduled to play in four former New York-Penn League cities (State College, Williamsport, Mahoning Valley and West Virginia) as well as Trenton, who was a member. of the League Is Double-A. It is designed for players eligible for the draft.
While high school players will be allowed to participate, the league is primarily designed for players who have just completed their junior and senior years of varsity baseball and therefore are eligible for the draft. Draft-eligible JUCO players (who are eligible to be drafted after each college year) would also be a potential target for the six-team league.
The league will start playing at the end of May and run until mid-August. The league is designed to offer draft-eligible players a chance to play ahead of the draft, which has been moved from its traditional early June date to an early July date that coincides with MLB All-Star Weekend.
“Times are changing, our positions must change with them. I think this new baseball fan concept is truly exceptional, ”said Chuck Greenberg, owner of State College Spikes. “From a baseball perspective, that will be all we’ve had with a greater concentration of talent. ”
In conversations with several players’ agents, they said they expect few potential first-round picks to choose to play in a pre-draft league as the risk of a potential first-round player hurts. to their draft stock would be worse than the benefit of improving their Stock.
But it won’t be much of a change for New York-Penn League teams. Of the 32 first-round picks who signed in 2018, three played in the New York-Penn League.
But the total number of potential rookies who will play in the league could mean Greenberg’s prediction is coming true.
|Former MiLB affiliates changing leagues|
|Team||Previous league||New league||Format|
|Mahoning Valley||New York-Penn||MLB Draft|
|State university||New York-Penn||MLB Draft|
|West Virginia||New York-Penn||MLB Draft|
|Williamsport||New York-Penn||MLB Draft|
Also on Monday, the Pioneer League announced that it will become a partner professional league in 2021. This fulfills the promise several Pioneer League owners made months ago that they intended to form professional teams. .
The league includes a facility change. The Orem Owlz are now the Owlz of northern Colorado, as they will move to Windsor, Colo. In 2022.
The new league will play a 92-game schedule (a significant increase from the 76 games previously played by the league). It will be a professional league for recently undrafted players as well as players who were released from the affiliate ball early in their professional careers.
“Over the past year, we have worked closely with the owners and elected officials of the Pioneer League to ensure the continued success of baseball in the West Mountain,” said Morgan Sword, MLB vice president, Baseball Economics & Operations, in a press release. “We are delighted to support this new initiative and look forward to the return of Pioneer League baseball in 2021.”
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The other three MLB partner leagues (the American Association, the Atlantic League and the Frontier League) all have eligibility rules that allow minors and major veterans to play in the league. The Pioneer League will aim to attract recently unselected players. The league is expected to have relatively strict age limits to ensure the league remains focused on young players who have the potential to move to the affiliate ball.
“We felt like and MLB agreed with us that there was this void for players who would have been drafted in rounds 21-40 or who played a year or two in MiLB before be released, ”said Idaho Falls Chukars owner DG Ellmore. “I have to give credit to Morgan Sword and Dick Monfort (owner of the Colorado Rockies). (Monfort) owns Grand Junction. We’ve been working on this for a while. They were ready to reflect and explore different ways of looking at this. I think it will work very well.
Major League Baseball will provide “seed funding” for league expenses, but the league will need to be self-sustaining going forward. As a partner league, the Pioneer League will collect analytical data (Trackman and other tracking data provided by MLB) and may use MLB statistical services and other media. As a partner league, it will also be able to engage in joint marketing, ticketing, and possibly MLB sponsorships.
The Missoula Paddleheads in their statement announcing their participation in the new league suggested that some of the league’s players may be affiliates under contract with MLB teams who have been loaned to Pioneer League clubs. Several sources familiar with the negotiations said that no such player loan agreement has been reached between the MLB and the Pioneer League.