The Desert League and CWL Reach An Agreement

On December 8th, the Desert League officially announced an agreement with the California Winter League (CWL).  The post, which was put on Facebook, stated:

Important! After reaching an agreement with the California Winter League the Desert League has cancelled the 2018 season.  We have negotiated an agreement with the California Winter League for all of our players to attend the CWL at a discounted rate. The number for the CWL is 760 778 4487. We are also refunding money that has been paid for the 5 day tryout camp and the Developmental League. For more details and instructions on getting your refund processed please visit us at

I reached out to both Luke Powell, owner of the Desert League, and Andrew Starke, president of the CWL, to find out just what the agreement means for players.

Luke Powell:

*Luke stated that he could not go into detail about how the agreement came about, but answered all my other questions.*

  1. Why did you think it was in your best interest to make a deal?


The Desert League is played in Arizona but I live in North Dakota. John Guy is my right-hand man in Arizona and takes care of all the leg work for the Desert League. This year John has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and battled several other health problems. It’s been very hard for him to get done with a lot of things that we needed to get done. He is the only person I trust to do the job and without him we can’t operate this year.  I made the deal with the CWL because I didn’t want the players to have a bad experience like they have had in so many other indy leagues. I wanted to do it the right way or no way.


  1. The Desert League always made a big deal about the fact that it paid their players and wasn’t a pay to play league, why are you now encouraging players to go that route?


There are no other indy leagues that pay baseball players in January. If a player wants to play that time of the year, then they have to do a pay to play league, and if they’re going to pay to play baseball… I’m going to recommend the best pay-for-play league there is, and that’s hands down the CWL.


  1. What do you think the benefits will be for these players who take the chance at the CWL?


The players that attend the CWL will have a chance to play daily in front of tons of scouts from both MLB and multiple Indy organizations. And unlike the AWL (Arizona Winter League), the CWL has an official affiliation with the Frontier League. A player will get more expose in the CWL than any other winter league.

Andrew Starke:

1. How did the idea for the deal come about, and what was the final deal that was made?

Back in October, Luke Powell was driving through Palm Springs from LA to Phoenix. We sat down with him in our office to clear the air and talk about the industry in general. We had some questions about what made Luke so upset with the CWL and he had some questions about where we got some of the information that we had about housing and payment for players in the Desert League. The conversation was pretty straightforward and relaxed and after both parties had the answers to their questions, we discussed the industry in general and agreed that there was a misinformation on certain aspects of one another’s businesses. Close to Thanksgiving, we learned that Luke was frustrated about the way that his 2018 season was coming together and he was not happy with the options he had at that time in order to field a 4 team league in 2018. During these conversations, we learned that Luke also operates his own, successful business in the oil industry and he simply could not devote the time necessary to the Desert League in order to operate it in the manner which he envisioned it being operated.

We discussed several options with Luke about what to do before ultimately coming to an agreement that would see any Desert League player who was under contract, or was to attend their tryout camp or development league, have the opportunity to attend the 2018 California Winter League at a discounted rate. Luke wanted to make sure that his players had somewhere to go in January, and while the CWL is a more expensive options than the Desert League for players, we agreed on a price that was close to the same daily rate that players would have paid for training camp (which did not include housing) or the developmental league. Our price is higher because we include housing, food, etc. in Palm Springs, CA for 28 days during peak tourist season.

While I am sure some players will not be willing or able to come up with the difference in price between now and the start of the CWL on January 22nd, Luke wanted to make sure that they had a realistic option at a price point that could be justified. We wanted to make sure that we did not miss an opportunity to discuss the CWL with the dozens of players who were committed to the Desert League. So the agreement made sense for both parties.

2. In what ways do you think this is going to benefit players (ones from the Desert League and ones who were already attending the CWL)?

For players who were set to participate in the Desert League, this deal will give them a chance to continue pursuing professional baseball. There are not many options for baseball players to play in front of managers and scouts who are looking to sign players in January and February. This agreement, and the timing of the announcement of the cancellation of the Desert League season, gives players a realistic alternative to play in front of representatives from MLB, the Frontier League, the American Association, the Atlantic League, the Baseball Challenge League in Japan (who we just announced an agreement with), the United Shores League, and the Pacific Association. It’s more exposure than they would have received in the Desert League. We want to offer exposure to many different types of professional leagues in 2018 so players can still find contract offers regardless of age or experience level.

Playing in front of managers and scouts from all of these different leagues for a month will, in my opinion, offer Desert League players much more exposure than they may have received otherwise. As far as the benefit to players already attending the CWL, a late surge in player registrations would allow us to add more teams to the CWL schedule and hire more managers or scouts to coach those teams. More managers and scouts on staff at the CWL means more organizations represented who are looking to sign players.

That really is the main benefit, at this point. We will still ensure that the level of play is respectable and require that all players, including those from the Desert League, have previous college or professional experience.

3. How is this going to affect your league and the competition for contracts/roster spots for regular summer leagues?

Well hopefully we can add more teams and bring out managers from more independent league teams who want to sign players. That would be a real positive at this late stage. We’re not sure at this point what type of response we will see after the news about the Desert League and how it will affect the number of players we have this year. If we only receive a small influx of players, than it will not affect things much at all competition wise.

If we receive a great deal of interest and many players register, then we will look at bringing out more coaches who have the ability to sign players for their organizations. We will not, under any circumstances, have rosters that are larger than 22 or so players per team and we will make sure that we have as many teams and leagues represented out here as possible in January. Our goal is to get as many players signed as possible and historically, teams will sign maybe 2-5 players from the CWL. So the more players who register, the more teams we have, the more coaches we need to manage those teams, which hopefully leads to more contracts signed. That’s our goal.


12 thoughts on “The Desert League and CWL Reach An Agreement”

  1. Well at least they are trying to do something to reduce the impact on the players. But I thought one of the selling points of the Desert League was that the players would still be eligible for the Pecos in the summer. Wouldn’t playing in the CWL disqualify the players from the Pecos?


    1. Yes it would, although the players who went to a showcase league other than the Pecos Spring League can attend the Spring League or just pay the fee to become eligible. Obviously it’s not a great option, but technically they can become eligible.

      It’s too bad The Desert League couldn’t run their league this year, it would’ve been a good option for players to get noticed outside of having to attend showcase leagues. No guarantee how much exposure there would have been, but then again we all know how many players in showcase leagues just get ST contract and never make the team.


    2. The California Winter League is really hurting in their registration…They will tell players anything to get their money….Once you have paid they dont care if players are banned, they know non of these players are going to actually play in the summer anyways…

      they held an atlanta braves tryout camp and charged money to players trying to confuse them into joining CWL

      They told one of the players that the Pecos League signs players from the CWL and will have coaches, it is a outright lie, the player signs up and he is banned…one of my summer players went to CWL and he has no options, he wishes he would have never went…


  2. It is interesting how the Desert League bashed the CWL and then did some kind of agreement with them…their must have been a payoff

    The Arizona Winter League and California Winter League are frauds for players…They have no option for players future in baseball….. all of the players that get signed and actually make the team could have signed at open workout….

    They are charging players $3500 in best hopes of getting to the Frontier League….But 1/2 of the Frontier League Managers hate the deal and will release all the players they get, it isn’t fair for the players hopes…

    Then alot of the other leagues don’t want anything to do with a “CWL Player” because if he wasn’t good enough to get signed by Frontier then American or Can Am don’t want the leftovers…


  3. Good job coach lew. But it is the tip of the iceberg. All of you do research and keep digging. There is more and even with the desert league refunding fees, most of these players cant afford the balance. There are other options that are less expensive and provide a better chance to players.


  4. As i have said before, players do your research on the pay for play leagues. Is the AWL going forward this Winter? I heard they do not have enough players signed to play. If this is so, there are other options for players to be seen.


  5. The AWL is the worst option, they are being sued for trademark enfrigement and misrepresentation of brand by MILB….

    PLAYERS SHOULD LEARN NO REFUNDS FROM CWL AND AWL means they are scams for profits for the owners period….

    they try to confuse players into thinking they are the same AWL as ran by the Golden League and then they testified in court that they weren’t…..

    Players should learn not to go, but the players don’t know until it is too late…

    There is no grey area with these guys, they are liars and thieves and should be shut down…. They hire coaches and the coaches swindle about 20-30 players to go there every year, when players get there they immediately for refund and the league call blocks their numbers…
    They haven’t gotten a player signed like in 3 years.

    they claim to get guys signed in the Can-Am, but they sent all of their guys to empire league and throughbred league…which they had to pay more money


  6. Thank you coach lew! Players do your research and heed his words of wisdom. Remember players, there are other options out there! A spring training invite is no guarantee and most of these teams already have a full rosrer. Check leagues player transactions list of each team and see how many of their players from last year, by Nov 15th, options were picked up. So after spending a lot of $$$, you then have to pay more to attend spring training on your own dime with a slim chance to get a contract. Do your research!


  7. The DL and CWL both list players “moving on” on their respective websites yet some of those were not directly signed from there, but from subsequent tryouts. So that’s slightly misleading. Essentially some were “overlooked,” then made a team.

    On the other hand, both venues may have served the purpose of getting PT for injury rehab. For a small select group, this could be invaluable as there are few fall/winter options.

    The DL had a rocky start, has defaulted on year 2; you get the picture.

    The CWL is well run,- you pay for that-and IBI has good documentation as to its ability to advance players.


  8. West Coast
    Your message appears vague and kryptic. Your first paragraph is pretty much what has been said by others and glad you brought it up. Your second entry is not clear to what you wrote. Your thrid entry does not explain the “picture” you are speaking of. Yrs, the CWL is run well, but what is meant by you pay for that. And, what or who is the lbl and where is their “documentation” posted on the advancement of players. Pretty kryptic.


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