Tag Archives: indy baseball

Major League Baseball is Changing the Landscape of Indy Ball

Earlier this year, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced partnerships with existing independent leagues. The top three indy leagues – the Atlantic League, the American Association, and the Frontier League – have entered into a partnership with the MLB for the upcoming season.

Now, the MLB is restructuring and cutting their minor leagues which will ultimately impact independent baseball even more.

The Pioneer League, the Appalachian League, and the New York Penn League, all former MLB affiliated leagues, are being repurposed for 2021.

The Pioneer League will now be an  independent professional MLB Partner League.

All eight members of the Pioneer League – the Billings Mustangs, the Grand Junction Rockies, the Great Falls Voyagers, the Idaho Falls Chukars, the Missoula Paddleheads, the Ogden Raptors, the Northern Colorado Owlz and the Rocky Mountain Vibes – will continue participating in the league and will maintain their existing team names and brands.

Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, said: “Over the past year, we have worked closely with Pioneer League owners and elected officials to ensure the continued success of baseball in the Mountain West. We’re excited to support this new initiative and look forward to Pioneer League baseball returning in 2021.”

MLB.com

The Appy League and part of the New York Penn League will turn into two new wood-bat leagues that will feature top collegiate and draft eligible players from across the country.

Each of the ten teams in the Appalachian League will be rebranded to reflect the communities and towns that they represent. The league will feature top rising college freshman and sophomores during the summer.

The Appalachian League will become a part of the Prospect Development Pipeline (“PDP”), the collaborative effort between MLB and USA Baseball that establishes a player development pathway for amateur baseball players in the United States, and will be an integral part of the identification and development process for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and other future national teams. Appalachian League participants will receive extensive visibility to MLB Club scouts through both in-person observation and state-of-the-art scouting technology. Players will receive instruction from former MLB players and educational programming designed to prepare them for careers as professional athletes. Plans include a 54-game regular season and an annual All-Star Game. MLB and USA Baseball will provide support for the league’s staffing, player participation and administrative functions. The parties are in communication with the NCAA to ensure athlete eligibility requirements are met.

Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, said: “We are thrilled to partner with USA Baseball and the Appalachian League communities to create a one-of-a-kind summer league that will attract the nation’s top collegiate players and allow local fans to see top prospects and future big-league stars in their hometowns. This announcement continues MLB’s commitment to preserving and growing baseball in communities around the United States. The road to the big leagues now runs through Appalachia.”

Mike Gaski, President of USA Baseball, said: “USA Baseball is excited for this unique opportunity to enhance the offerings within the Prospect Development Pipeline through the creation of a premier summer collegiate baseball league. Our commitment to the continued development of amateur athletes is paramount to our mission as the national governing body for the sport in the United States and it is an honor to align ourselves with a historic baseball brand such as the Appalachian League, as well as our partners in Major League Baseball. We look forward to welcoming elite-level college athletes to the Appalachian League and identifying players who will hope to one day play for Team USA.”

Dan Moushon, the President of the Appalachian League, said: “The communities of the Appalachian League have supported baseball since our founding in 1911. We are grateful to MLB and USA Baseball for bringing this exciting opportunity to our fans and look forward to welcoming players, coaches, MLB scouts and fans into our cities next summer.”

MLB.com

Five teams from the New York Penn League: the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the State College Spikes, the Trenton Thunder, the West Virginia Black Bears, and the Williamsport Crosscutters (with talks of a sixth team), are forming the MLB Draft League.

This league will be the first of its kind that focuses exclusively on top prospects who are eligible for the MLB Draft that summer.

With the 2021 MLB Draft moved back to July and being held as part of All-Star Week, draft-eligible players will have a unique opportunity to showcase their abilities and gain exposure to MLB Clubs and fans next summer. The new format affirms MLB’s commitment to the region and assures that communities of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New Jersey will continue to host high-caliber baseball and future Major Leaguers for years to come.

Plans include a 68-game regular season with an annual All-Star Break centered around the MLB Draft. MLB Draft League participants will receive unprecedented visibility to MLB Club scouts through both in-person observation and state-of-the-art scouting technology, and educational programming designed to prepare them for careers as professional athletes. PBR will provide support for the league’s staffing, player and coach recruitment, on-field operations, and administrative functions. PBR will also use their media and technology platforms to promote the league and its players throughout the season.

Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Prep Baseball Report and the founding members of the MLB Draft League to create a one-of-a-kind league that will attract the nation’s top players who are eligible for each year’s MLB Draft and allow local fans to see top prospects and future big-league stars in their hometowns. This announcement continues MLB’s commitment to preserving and growing baseball in communities around the United States.”

Sean Duncan, President of Prep Baseball Report, said: “We are honored to work with these ownership groups and Major League Baseball to assure the future of impactful, high-level baseball to the region and continue the legacy of deep community involvement from all of these teams. With more than 150 scouts and operations personnel coast-to-coast at the high school, collegiate and junior college levels, we take great pride in our ability to identify the nation’s top amateur draft prospects, which will ultimately make the MLB Draft League the preeminent league for draft-eligible players.”

MLB.com

Currently, the 2021 season will feature four independent leagues that are partnered with the MLB as well as two college/top prospect leagues that will also be supported by major league baseball.

It should be an interesting summer full of many changes in professional baseball.

Frontier League Expands in Canada

FRONTIER LEAGUE WELCOMES OTTAWA FOR 2021 SEASON

September 25, 2020

The Frontier League has announced the granting of an expansion membership to Ottawa, Ontario, to begin play in the 2021 season.  Ottawa becomes the 15th Frontier League team and the third in Canada, joining the Quebec Capitales and Trois-Rivieres Aigles.

The new Ottawa team is operated by Sam Katz and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG).  Sam Katz has a long tenure in baseball, serving as President & CEO of the American Association’s Winnipeg Goldeyes since their inception for the 1994 season.  Sam was instrumental in building Shaw Park in downtown Winnipeg.  He has won numerous awards, including the Queen’s Jubilee Golden Medal (2002), Distinguished Alumnus from the University of Manitoba (2003), and being named to the Order of Manitoba (2004), the province’s highest award and served as Mayor of Winnipeg from 2004-14.

“Our ownership team is thrilled to be joining the Frontier League,” said Sam Katz.  “For nearly 30 years, the Frontier League has helped set the bar for independent baseball, and we are proud to become a part of its rich history.  We very much look forward to serving the City of Ottawa, and providing our fans affordable, family-friendly entertainment for years to come.”

OSEG owns and operates the Ottawa REDBLACKS Football Club (CFL) and the Ottawa 67’s Hockey Club (OHL), manages and programs events in the TD Place stadium arena complex and manages facilities and maintenance throughout centrally located, 40-acre Lansdowne district.

“The Frontier League is pleased and proud to welcome the City of Ottawa to our League,” said Commissioner Bill Lee.  “Ottawa is a major league city that deserves professional baseball. The ownership group of Sam Katz and OSEG provide great experience in owning and operating sports teams and facilities.”

The new Ottawa team will play out of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park.  Located in the heart of Ottawa, RCGT Park opened for the 1993 season and served as the home of the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx from 1993-2007.  Regan Katz has been named Vice-President for Ottawa and will lead the team’s day-to-day operations, with a goal of having an office open in Ottawa in late October.

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, expressed his excitement for the return of professional baseball.  “As Mayor of the nation’s capital, I am thrilled that the Frontier League is coming to RCGT Park. Ottawa is a great sports city and the new partnership between OSEG and Mr. Katz is exciting news for our growing baseball community. I also want to thank our new partners for their vote of confidence in our City’s economic future and for working with us to finalize a long-term partnership in one of the most challenging economic times in our City’s and country’s history. I look forward to the seasons ahead.”

“The addition of Ottawa is great news for Québec and Trois-Rivieres,” added Michel Laplante, President of the Capitales.  “Not only do we benefit from having a team in our area, but we believe this strong ownership will make the Ottawa market successful and attractive for the possible expansion into greater Montreal.”

Founded for the 1993 season, the Frontier League is the largest and longest running independent professional baseball league.  An official Partner League of Major League Baseball, the Frontier League features 15 clubs stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from the Ohio River to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  The Frontier League annually moves the most players into Major League Baseball organizations of any of the independent leagues.