Tag Archives: Arizona fall league

Atlantic League and MLB Announce Partnership

Official press release courtesy of the Atlantic League:


Agreement to test experimental playing rules and equipment initiatives
Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today that it has reached a three-year agreement with the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) that will permit MLB to test experimental playing rules and equipment during the Atlantic League’s Championship Season. In addition to rules governing the transfer of players from the Atlantic League to Major League Baseball, the new agreement includes rights for MLB to implement changes to Atlantic League playing rules in order to observe the effects of potential future rule changes and equipment. MLB will work with ALPB to modify the experimental playing rules and equipment each season during the agreement.

MLB also will enhance its scouting coverage of the Atlantic League, installing radar tracking technology in the eight Atlantic League ballparks and providing statistical services to ALPB clubs.

The new agreement continues Major League Baseball’s longstanding practice of testing potential new approaches under game conditions. In recent years, MLB has utilized and evaluated experimental rules in its Arizona Fall League, the game’s top off-season developmental platform.

“We are excited to announce this new partnership with the Atlantic League,” said Morgan Sword, MLB’s Senior Vice President, League Economics & Operations. “We look forward to bringing some of the best ideas about the future of our game to life in a highly competitive environment.”

Atlantic League President Rick White added: “The Atlantic League prides itself on innovation. In that spirit, our Board of Directors, led by Chairman and Founder Frank Boulton, enthusiastically and unanimously approved this forward-looking agreement.”

Major League Baseball and the Atlantic League will announce the experimental playing rule and equipment changes for the 2019 ALPB Championship Season in the coming weeks.

About the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) 

With eight teams in the Mid-Atlantic and Texas, the ALPB is a leader in baseball innovation and a player gateway to Major League Baseball. Through its exclusive partnership with MLB, the Atlantic League tests Major League Baseball rules and equipment initiatives. The Atlantic League has sent over 900 players to MLB organizations while drawing more than 40 million fans to its affordable, family-friendly ballparks throughout its 22-year history.

For more information, please visit www.AtlanticLeague.com.

It should be noted that the Atlantic League has been implementing various pace of play techniques for years. In 2015, Indy Ball Island covered some of these changes in: The Atlantic League – Leading the Way in Pace of Play or Publicity Stunt? 

Baseball America’s JJ Cooper wrote about changes that could be coming to the Atlantic League this season.

While no one with the Atlantic League would confirm the changes, Baseball America has learned that that the rules tweaks are expected to include moving back the pitcher’s mound and using Trackman to call balls and strikes, both rules changes that have long been suggested but are significant enough to require plenty of in-game testing.

The entire article can be found at: Atlantic League Expected To Add Robo-Umps, Other Changes From New MLB Agreement.

Players interested in playing in the Atlantic League can check out our Tryout/Showcase information here: Atlantic League Player Showcase.




Braves Prospect Used Indy Ball to Earn His Second Chance at Majors

At the age of 21, pitcher Brandon Cunniff was drafted by the (then) Florida Marlins in the 27th round of the 2010 MLB draft.  He appeared in 17 games for their Gulf Coast League rookie affiliate and 1 game for their short season New York Penn League affiliate in 2010.  In 34.2 total innings, he accumulated 36 strikeouts and 5 saves en route to a respectable 2.34 ERA in his first taste of professional baseball.  However, Cunniff was released before the 2011 season began.

Not wanting to give up, Cunniff turned to independent ball to keep his baseball dreams alive.

In 2011, he signed with the River City Rascals of the Frontier League. He became a dominant closer for the Rascals during the season. In 44 appearances (46.2 IP), he had 53 strikeouts with 9 saves and a 1.54 ERA all while finishing with a 4-0 record.

In 2012, he returned to his role in the Rascals bullpen. After appearing in 28 games, striking out 55 and earning 4 saves, he was traded to the Southern Illinois Miners. Here he finished out the regular season with another nine appearances and 4 saves, striking out 10 hitters in 10 innings.

Cunniff was a great late season addition to the Southern Illinois bullpen as they made their playoff push.  In the post season, he appeared in five games, recorded 4 saves and struck out 9 in only  5.2 innings of work.  His great work closing out games helped propel the Miners to the 2012 Frontier League Championship.

He began the 2013 season back in Southern Illinois.  After 12 innings in as many appearances, Cunniff recorded 8 saves and 23 strikeouts.  He was second in the league in saves when he finally got the news… He was getting a second chance in affiliated ball. After spending two and a half seasons improving his pitching (including increasing his velocity), dominating hitters, and proving himself in the Frontier League, his hard work and perseverance finally paid off.  Cunniff ended his time in the Frontier League with impressive stats;  Overall, he went 7-0 with a 1.57 ERA and 25 saves in 93 appearances.

The Atlanta Braves purchased Cunniff’s contract on June 21, 2013 and sent him to the team’s High-A affiliate, the Lynchburg Hillcats.  He appeared in 20 games for the Hillcats, striking out 39 in 31.2 innings on his way to a 1.99 ERA to finish the season.

Cunniff started the 2014 season in Lynchburg, but quickly pitched himself to a promotion.  In 9 appearances, he pitched 15.2 scoreless innings only allowing 5 total hits while striking out 21.  He then brought his 0.00 ERA to the Double A Mississippi Braves, where he continued his impressive scoreless streak into his first two appearances with the MBraves. The higher level of competition didn’t phase Cunniff.  He finished the 2014 Double A season with a 3-0 record and 52.2 innings pitched in 33 appearances.  He also recorded 50 strikeouts and had a 2.05 ERA.

His great performance recently earned him an invite to play among the top prospects in baseball in the Arizona Fall League. Currently with the Peoria Javelinas, he has pitched 6.2 innings in 5 appearances with 6 strikeouts.

His rise through the Braves organization is impressive and an interesting story to follow, but what’s more interesting is how a player like Cunniff was stuck on Indy Ball Island for so long. Players of his caliber are not often hidden in independent ball for over two years.  The Braves got a steal of a deal when they found this hard throwing pitcher in Southern Illinois.

The Miners have a motto: “Miner For Life.” You’ll always be a Miner even after you’re gone from the team. No matter where you go or what you do, you will always be a part of something special in Southern Illinois. For Cunniff, I think he’ll always fondly remember the team and the Frontier League championship that helped him earn his second chance.