Fall/Winter Leagues… Is One Right For You?

More and more instructional baseball leagues are popping up every year.

These leagues are all competing for players to play for them (and give them their money).

Over the last few years, some of these instructional leagues have been starting to “educate” players by saying something negative about the other leagues. If you look on social media, you can see people associated with a lot of these leagues arguing about who is better…. and why you should give them your money instead of giving it to some other guy.

Some leagues have even banned players from playing in their league if the player went to a different winter league.

Every year towards the end of the regular season for indy ball, I always get the question… should I go to a fall or winter league during the off season? What one is right for me? Are they really worth the money?

While I can’t answer those questions for every player, I do want to make players aware of everything that’s out there and give nothing but a comprehensive list of facts including: when/where the leagues are held, what associations they have with other leagues or scouts/coaches, and the costs since these leagues can be VERY pricey.

Please keep in mind, that you should also take lists of “signed players” that these winter leagues put out with a grain of salt. The majority of the time, these players are only signed for spring training, or have already landed on a team thanks to their own hard work and the instructional leagues take credit because they were there to get extra reps in.

The following information was gathered through the various leagues’ websites.

Black Sox Pro Baseball League

When:
All the time.

Where:
All across the country.

Cost:
Varies. No set “cost.”

Affiliation(s):
No actual affiliation. Plays games against affiliated teams as well as independent leagues (Atlantic, Frontier, American, Can-Am, and Pacific).

Additional Info:
The Black Sox are different than anything else on this list. It isn’t actually a winter league. It also doesn’t have a set cost that they charge each player.

Joe Torre runs the Black Sox Pro Baseball League. Torre puts together various teams all around the country including teams in New Jersey and Florida as well as teams that travel during independent league spring training.

The teams are made up of players looking to get in at bats and innings playing against established teams. This helps give players exposure to managers and coaches who can get a feel for how the players play in real game situations.

Find more information on the Black Sox on their Official Website. 

This season, a few member of the Black Sox wrote a guest blog for the site –  Guest Bloggers – The Black Sox Series.

In addition, here is an inside look of my interaction with the Black Sox team when they came to town for our education day – Education Day with the Black Sox.

California Winter League

When:
Players Report- January 22nd.
MLB workouts – January 23rd and 24th.
Season – January 25th to February 18th.

Where:
Palm Springs Stadium Complex, California.

Cost:
$3,300 pay in full or $3,500 with $1,000 deposit until Oct 1st
$3,400 pay in full or $3,500 with $1,000 deposit until Nov 1st
$3,500 after Nov 1st

Limit 2 discounts per player

$750 discount if player provides their own housing and meals
$200 professional discount
$1,000 deposit due upon registration (no refunds will be issued on deposits for any reason)
Balance due 1/1/18
Payment plans available

What’s Covered:
Lodging
Two meals per day – Combination of restaurant vouchers and catered meals at the stadium
Local transportation to training facilities for entire length of league
Catcher’s gear will be provided (if needed)
Players are responsible for their own transportation to and from Palm Springs, California
MLB alumni player/coach instruction
Current Independent League managers and MLB scouts looking to sign players
Game action
Uniforms (Pants, Jersey, Hat, Belt, Socks, Workout Shorts, Workout Shirt)
Equipment (Bats, Balls, Helmets)
Locker room facility
Laundered uniforms daily
EOS Fitness membership for the duration of the league

Affiliation(s):
Frontier League.

In addition to an agreement with the Frontier League, the league also states that “the CWL has instructors and coaches from the following Independent Professional Baseball Leagues: Frontier League, American Association, Can-Am League, Atlantic League, United Shore Professional Baseball League and Pacific Association; all of which, came with contracts in hand, ready to sign players who stood out.”
Two days of MLB scouted workouts are also held.

Additional Info:

Why The CWL? – Official Website.

CWL Signings Mid-Season Update – Indy Ball Island.

Registration: 2018 Registration Form Link

Arizona Winter League

When:
Players Report – January 30th.
Spring Training – January 31st and February 1st. Followed by a practice day.
Games Start – February 3rd.
Players Depart – February 26th, 2018

Where:
Ray Kroc Baseball Complex (Yuma, Arizona)

Cost:
Regular Registration: $2,500
Regular in Full: $2,250 (Register in Full by 12/31/17 and get $250 off of the regular rate)
Returning Player Registration: $2,000 (any former player of the AWL, TWL, and TSL)
Local Rate: $500 (players who will not need housing and meals)
Deposit Option: $500 (secure your spot, balance of $2,000 due by January 1st, 2018)

What’s Covered:
Hotel (2 players per room)
2 meals per day (Breakfast and Lunch)
Gym access
Uniforms
Bats (Each team is issued a certain amount of bats)
Catcher’s gear (it is recommended that you bring your own catcher’s gear)
Transportation to and from the stadium and hotel
Airport Pickup in Yuma
Each player will receive hands-on instruction from professional managers and coaches
The AWL will provide an on-site trainer
Player Stats provided by Pointstreak

Affiliation(s):
Coaches from the Atlantic League, American Association, and the Frontier League are listed as instructors.

Additional Info:
Arizona Winter League FAQs – Official Website.

Registration: 2018 AWL Registration Link

Desert League

When:
The season runs from January through March

Where:
Arizona

Cost:
Five-Day Training Camp Guarantee – This option is only available to the first 50 players that register. Each player will be guaranteed a full five days in camp. This will give you plenty of time to impress the coaches and hopefully earn a roster spot.

  • $399 fee for returning Desert League players or players with previous pro experience.
  • $599 fee for players without any professional experience. Players are responsible for their own travel and housing expenses.
  • $200 deposit holds your spot at training camp and locks in early bird fee.

Tryouts are also being held around the country with varying costs from $80 to $100.

Players that make a team in the Desert League are paid.

Affiliation(s):
The Desert League is it’s own league that pays their players. They also work on getting guys signed to higher independent leagues for their regular seasons or Mexican pro leagues.

Additional Info:
Last year, the Desert League had their first season. They went through some issues with the fields that changed schedules. They also had some issues with housing and pay, but in the end, all players were safe, housed and did receive payment. It wasn’t always smooth, but it operated and is ready to come back for another season.

What is Going on with the Desert League – Indy Ball Island (Oct. 2016).

Registration: 2018 Training Camp Information/Registration

Desert League Developmental League

When:
January through March (the same time as the Desert League).

Where:
Arizona

Cost:
$1999 – Extended camp/Developmental League
$500 deposit to lock in early bird fee – Extended camp/Developmental League

Your housing is included in the price $1999. Local players not requiring housing fee is $1000.

Affiliation(s):
Desert League

Additional Info:
“Extended training camp and Desert League Developmental League. This 21-day option includes housing. The first five days players will attend training camp for a chance to make a Desert League team. After training camp if the player does not make a team, rather than being released and sent home, the player will be assigned to our developmental league where they will practice and/or play daily in a professional environment and have a chance to be “called up” to our professional (paid) league. This offers players their best chance to get their foot in the door of professional baseball. If a player gets hurt or is released Desert League managers will be required to replace that player with a player from the developmental league.”

Registration:  2018 Training Camp Information/Registration

Hudson River League

When:
November 1st – 20th

Where:
Houston, TX

Cost:
$1,250 without housing, $2,000 with housing.

Affiliation(s):
Pecos League

Additional Info:
The Hudson River League is the only affiliated developmental winter baseball league, sponsored by the professional independent Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs.
The Hudson River League is the lowest cost Developmental League starting as low as $1250 per player for three weeks of baseball. At the end of the Hudson River League players will get signed with realistic chances of making clubs they are signed to.

Registration: Register for the Hudson River League on their Official Website. 

 

Pecos League Spring League

When:
March 5th – 28th.

Where:
Houston, TX

Cost:
$1,250 without housing, $2,000 with housing.

Affiliation(s):
Pecos League

Additional Info:
The Pecos Spring League is the only affiliated developmental spring baseball league, sponsored by the professional independent Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs. 
The Pecos Spring League is the lowest cost Developmental League starting as low as $1250 per player for three weeks of baseball. At the end of the Spring League players will get signed with realistic chances of making clubs they are signed to.

Registration: Register for the Pecos Spring League on their Official Website.

“Warning to players about Winter Leagues.” – Pecos League press release.

Puerto Rico Instructional Baseball League

When:
January 6th to February 6th.

Where:
Rincón, Puerto Rico

Cost:
Regular Registration: $2,700

Pay in Full: $2,300 (For limited time! Register in full and get $400 off the regular registration rate)

Returning Player Registration: $2,000 (former PRIBL player)

Local Player Registration: $1,000 (players who will not need housing and meals)

Deposit Option: $500 (A deposit will guarantee your roster spot)

What’s Covered:
Lodging from January 7th (Report date) – February 5th (Depart date)
2 Meals per day
Local transportation to & from training facilities for entire length of program. Players are responsible for their own transportation to and from Airport.
Sports Insurance coverage
Includes all instructor fees (MLB Alumni player/coach Instruction)
Each player will receive hands-on instruction from professional coaches who have the ability to sign players to a Professional Contract.
Game action: Up to 25 games scheduled with Puerto Rico AA teams.
Training workshops: These workshops will include financial planning, sports psychology, and mental preparation towards the game, sports marketing, and preparation for the media, toxicology, doping and the life within the sport.
The PRIBL will provide on-site trainers.
Players’ Stats will be provided daily in our website
Documented Scouting Report will be sent by email at the end of the program. Evaluations are also made during camps.
Exposure: MLB Scouts, Major League Staff, Minor League Directors, Minor League player personnel, may visit at any given time. Independent, European and Mexican League representatives will be in attendance or in contact to fill roster spots for the upcoming championship season. Staff is composed of coaches from those leagues.
Uniforms (jersey, hat, belt, socks, workout shorts, and workout shirt)
Equipment (balls, bats, helmets and catcher’s gear all provided)
Locker room facility
Gym Access
All players are provided an equal opportunity to showcase their abilities.

Affiliation(s):
The coaches for the winter league are also coaches in the Empire League and United Shore Pro Baseball League during the summer.

Additional Info:
PRIBL FAQ’s – Official Site

Registration: 2018 PRIBL Registration

South Florida Winter League

When: 
October 28th – November 16th.

Where:
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Cost:
$950 without housing
$2,200 with housing

What’s covered:
Games
Housing
Breakfast
Professional Coaching and instruction
Evaluation from managers and scouts from established Leagues with the ability to sign players
Uniforms( jersey hat, bp shirt and shorts players are responsible to bring grey pants)
Transportation for Baseball Activities and airport
If you can bring your own car it’s recommended

Affiliation(s):
Staff listed include managers from the Frontier League and the United Shore League, a coach from the Atlantic League and a pitching coordinator for the Phillies as well as additional “scouts.”

Additional Info:
The League’s Official Website 

Registration: 2017 Fall Camp Registration

Cocoa Expo Pro Winter League

When:
November 2nd – 22nd

Where:
Cocoa, FL

Cost:
$2,750

Affiliation(s):
No official Affiliation

Additional Info:
Winter 2017 will make the 2nd season of the Pro Winter League since our $50 Million restoration/renovation project of the 23 season Houston Astros facility.  Last season’s Winter League over 100 players were evaluated by Scouts and Coaches from MLB, the Frontier League, Canadian League, Japenese League, Pacos League, Atlantic League, Independent League and many others.  More than 30 players were signed and 2 recieved offers from MLB.  This winter 2017 event stands to be even better with more than 300 players expected to attend along with more Scouts and Coaches.

Cocoa Expo’s Professional baseball Winter League is like no other in the U.S. We provide a special setting for Scouts and Coaches to evaluate players unlike other faclities. From our 35,000 sq.ft. training facility that boasts 14 indoor batting cages with 7 video simulated probatter machines, to our 11 professional fields. Scouts and Coaches that are looking to sign players can evaluate you better here than anywhere else and players get more exposure.  In addition everything is provided at one single location.  Players never have to leave the complex.  We provide housing onsite, all meals are included and onsite with our master chef preparing with food displayed and served at our exclusive buffet spread.

Step out of the Rec Hall and Cafeteria and jump right into the 35,000 sq ft. training center that houses $1million in weight equipment, steppers, treadmills, eliptials, climbers and more than 110 stations.  No facility can compare.  At Coao Expo’s Winter League you’ll receive evaluation at our facilities and will have no need to leave.


I’ll admit that I have never heard of the Cocoa Expo Pro Winter League. They state that this is their second year in existence, but I do not personally know any player that attended.

Registration: Official Site and Registration 

Thoroughbred Fall League

At one point… this was listed on their website as an instructional league starting in September. That information has since been removed and for good reason.

Affiliation(s):
Thoroughbred Baseball League

Additional Info:
The Thoroughbred League had a lot of issues in it’s first season this summer. These issues included poor playing conditions, failure to pay players as promised, and the lack of stats.

Indy Ball Island has highlighted these issues at the end of the season.

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3 thoughts on “Fall/Winter Leagues… Is One Right For You?”

  1. Great post — thank you.

    I am neutral on all of these leagues except one. All of the others have both good and bad points.

    I am suspicious about the Cocoa Expo Pro League. They have only a single screen at their website dedicated to this program’s description & registration (and with an HTML character problem with the title). As someone who has been closely-involved with all sorts of Indy programs over the past 4 years, this developmental league is a mystery.

    Along with the blog author, I have never heard of anyone who attended last year’s program. I do now that South Florida Winter League held one of its camps at this complex — there was a lot of miscommunication and problems between SFWL and Cocoa Expo that resulted in players not having access to the gym or batting cages for most of their camp. I wonder if Cocoa is claiming the SFWL players who got promoted at their complex as the ones they state as having success with.

    It seems that Cocoa is aggressively-seeking new revenue streams beyond the established tournaments & showcases. If I were to venture a guess, I bet they’re throwing out an announcement about this camp to see if enough players register to actually hold it.

    Maybe a Q&A is needed with Cocoa to clarify some questions about this camp’s history and claims. I’m very concerned about the “No Refund” policy, especially if this camp isn’t held because of low registration.

    Thanks again for this great post.

    Like

  2. Thanks for listing all of the above opportunities in one place. .
    Yes contracts are offered, however the aspiring athlete needs to realize these contracts are are not binding for a player to have recourse against a team to collect funds or remain on a team. The contract is only for the team to lock up a player.
    Players get released daily by teams as it appears that teams are unlimited in the number of transactions that can be completed, evidenced by some teams having a 80% turnover from the end of spring training until now.
    Players get injured and try to play through for the team and the reward is a release, no protection with a contract.

    Thanks for continuing to support Indy Ball and enlightening the public to all the scams that are out there.

    Like

  3. Scott iselhart did not pay the $50,000 or so he owed in Vero beach, palm beach and cocoa beach.
    Maybe he did, but why doesn’t someone call and ask?
    However the cocoa expo is bankrupt ( look it up) and they are just milking all the money they can before they roll over . why not team up with the guy who screwed them before.
    Who signs players in November?
    How could players be scouted and evaluated there better than anywhere else when everyone else has a reputation and they dont?
    As far as Jeff’s comments above, the first option TBT Black Sox has all the players finishing the season with their teams with few releases and cuts compared to others.
    Young players need to really go and look up player by player on pointstreak and baseball reference who these players are and how much pro time they are getting.
    The frontier league has to draft 24 players from the draft and the cwl every year.

    Like

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