Q & A with the California Winter League


Recently, the General Manager of the California Winter League (CWL), Peter Wagoner, reached out to me to discuss their upcoming season.

To clear up any questions and concerns potential players had, we decided to do a Q & A for Indy Ball Island.

Below are some frequently asked questions gathered from potential players along with the General Manager’s answers.

When did the league begin?

The first California Winter League season was in 2010.

Where is the league held?

The league operates in Palm Springs, California.

When will the league take place this year?

The 2017 California Winter League runs from January 16th until February 12th.

How many teams/players are there?

The amount of teams depends on how many players we have. We try to stay to about 20-22 man rosters. This year we will be around 250 players and therefore a 12 team league.

How many games does each team play (average amount of ABs or IPs per player)?

The number of games is also impacted by the amount of players/teams we have in the league. This year, we have 16 regular season games and at least one guaranteed playoff game. We do mix in off days during the league. This helps keep pitching fresh but also allows for instruction as well as networking between players and coaches/scouts.

What is the cost for each player?

The total cost of the league is $3500 (price has not increased in the 5 years I’ve been here). We do offer various discounts depending on player experience and when they register. For example, if a player registers before June, the cost is $2500.

What all is included in that cost?

The price includes housing (timeshare condos primarily and then hotels), two meals a day (breakfast and lunch), transportation while in Palm Springs (we hire a bus company to shuttle players to and from housing, the facility and…), a gym membership, equipment (bats, baseballs, uniforms, etc.). The price also includes field rentals, insurance costs as well as instructor fees since we do have to pay coaches and scouts to be a part of the league.

Who are some of your instructors and scouts and what teams/leagues are they affiliated with?

We have our 2017 instructor list posted on the website (you can see the list HERE). We work with every major independent league. That includes the Frontier League, American Association, Can Am, Atlantic League, the United Shore Professional Baseball League as well as the Pacific Association. We also have 10+ affiliated organizations here every year as well.

How many players are signed (on average) out of your league each year?

This number can change year to year depending on how many players are in the league and the quality of the players but we’ve been consistently between 75 and 100 players the last few years.

What exactly is the extent of your deal with the Frontier League?

Our relationship with the Frontier League (FL) is a mutually beneficial one. It provides the FL with a way to see a large number of players, particularly rookies, they might not otherwise. They have a rookie requirement of 11 players, which is a large portion of their roster. The majority of our players are recent college graduates, or have minimal professional experience, so it’s a good pairing for both the FL and the player. The FL has taken 98 players from the CWL in the last two years.

A lot of guys get signed to spring training contracts, but it’s much harder to stay on a roster afterwards. Is it really worth it as a player to spend the money to go to a winter league such as yours? Which players benefit the most from attending?

That is the nature of baseball for sure. Nothing is guaranteed. However, the CWL puts players in the best position to succeed. In 2015, the CWL gave you the best chance of playing in the FL. There were more guys from the CWL that played in a regular season game than players drafted at the FL open tryout or that were brought in by coaches. When our players do get released, they often get picked up by another one of the coaches that instructed in our league. And for the guys that do get released without playing a game, most likely they were afforded an opportunity that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. With that being said, we’ve had roughly 500 contract offers in 7 years from 18 different affiliated organizations and various independent leagues. We had 10 guys playing in affiliated ball last year alone. The league is worth it for anyone that is interested in playing professional baseball. We can be your foot in the door or the means to get you to the next level.

Winter ball is not for everyone. There are costs associated with putting on a league of this magnitude and not every player is going to be able to afford it. For those that can, we offer the best winter baseball experience in the country hands down. It’s run well and it shows. I know through the conversations I have with former and prospective players as well as indy and affiliated organizations that people believe in what we do, and more importantly, in how we do it.

Last year, Indy Ball Island followed players signed out of the CWL. You can see the original signings HERE and our Mid-Season update HERE

We also plan on following the 2017 signings in the upcoming months. Please subscribe to avoid missing out!


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