Tag Archives: winter leagues

Q & A with Gary Snyder (Fiesta Winter League)

As in the past, Indy Ball Island always strives to give new startups a fair chance at showing what they’re all about.

I recently had the opportunity to do a Q & A with Gary Snyder, owner of the Fiesta Winter League (FWL), to provide players and fans with more information about the upcoming league.


You’re currently involved in a few projects. What is the Military Baseball Team that you’re currently working with?

The Fiesta Winter League’s current involvement with the US Military baseball team was for player development and scouting of players to possibly sign to the FWL or to refer them to the Mexican leagues.

We signed six players from various countries:
Bahamas (1 player)
Venezuela (1)
Virgin Islands (1)
USA (3)

What is the pay/housing/travel situation for those players?

The US Military baseball team tour was a pay to play league that offered military & non- military players an opportunity to play baseball in three different states. They provided them housing, a charter bus & meals .

What is the Fiesta Winter League? How many teams will the league have and where will it take place?

The Fiesta Winter League was created for all players who are looking for a place to play during the Fall/Winter months for their own needs;  For example: a player wanting more stats, improve on their mechanics, stay game ready or to prepare for spring/summer baseball leagues while also having opportunities to be seen by the Mexican leagues.

Currently the FWL is offering four teams with a roster of 23 players and two coaches .
All four teams will be playing at Ray Kroc Baseball Complex in Yuma, AZ.

Are the players being paid or will it be a pay-to-play league?

The FWL is a combination of players who are already signed and looking to extend their season, stay game ready and increase stats as well as those looking to get opportunities to play vs top talent and possibly get signed to a higher independent paying league.
Because of this, the FWL doesn’t pay their players. We do offer an accessible fee so that they can achieve their personal performance goals and enjoy the passion for high level baseball.

What is the housing situation for these players?

The hotel sponsor is Budgetel
They will be offering rates for double beds for the season at a 1 time fee of $240 per player* which includes continental breakfast and on some weekend nights special live music & appetizers.
(*This is based on 2-3 po which is paid to hotel directly with coupon from team coach.)

What does the season schedule look like? What dates are you running?

Sept 27-28 Pre-invite 2 day showcase for players at Joe Orduno Field in San Luis, AZ
Sept 29-30 2 day mandatory league showcase Ray Kroc Baseball Complex in Yuma, AZ
Oct 1 inter-squad scrimmage @8am. Draft @1pm and players report to club house @5pm
Oct 2-22 FWL inaugural season

All Fiesta Winter League scheduled games will be at the Ray Kroc Baseball Complex in Yuma, AZ and the All-Star game will be held at Arizona Western Community College vs AWC Topped-Ranked Matadors.

What type of scouting do you expect?

Scouts for the Mexican League will actively be sending and placing players to teams in:
“LIV” liga invernal veracruzana A ,
“LMP” liga Mexicana Pacifico AAA ,
“LMB” liga Mexicana beisbol AA-AAA ,
“LNM” liga norte de Mexico A-AA
“LAB” Liga Argentina beisbol.

We’re also happy to provide and recommend players to all US independent & affiliated league teams as well.

Will players have official stats recorded online?

Yes. There will be access to live up-to-date stats and live video streaming provided online through pointstreak.com under FWL official stats site.

What are the chances players will be able to sign to higher leagues?

Throughout the past year of just offering exhibition games and direct international tryouts, the FWL have had players signed to:
LIV 🇲🇽 (8 players)
LMP 🇲🇽 (2)
LMB 🇲🇽 (3)
LNM 🇲🇽 (2)
AA 🇺🇲 (1)

Players have a higher opportunity to sign for a future independent level while playing during FWL and receiving live stats & video game feeds that they can use to showcase their abilities. A professional player should always be in shape and getting reps for scouts and future league contracts.
FWL gives them the opportunity to play competitive baseball on US soil at an accessible cost.

Do you have any age/experience restrictions for players?

FWL offers the opportunity to players 18+
World-wide, with or without player eligibility.

So many of these leagues go dark shortly after starting, or do not happen at all. Are you confident enough in your financials that this league will last and succeed? How are you funding it?

Great question and statement…
The honest reality is that these leagues come and go regardless of who comments or provides truth. The best word of advice for a player is to do your homework wisely before you make a decision to spend $1 dollar to X amount.
Check social media, websites, baseball movements and sponsors.

I’m glad the FWL model is a steady and secure opportunity, and that it’s based on people who are from Yuma, Arizona. These people are known highly in the community and are dedicated to baseball, which provides an opportunity for bringing in higher connections in both baseball and the city.

The FWL 2019 inaugural season has already been paid for since March 2019 and will be paid through until FWL instructional 2020 in March as well. Our funding has been gathering since June of 2018 through personal accounts and international team sponsorship and development. So I believe our model is strong & backed for years to come.

We’re the only official league to play VS LMP, LMB & LNM 🇲🇽  (Single A through AAA teams) because of our strong ties & top talent. We’re a feeder for new talent to be discovered or rediscovered.

When are tryouts and where can players get further information on them?

Players can register on Facebook event links or www.fiestawinterleague.com (yellow tabs with each location & date available)

July 28 , 2019
La Sierra university RIVERSIDE California
8 am @100 early bird / $125 @ location

August 24,2019
Chandler Arizona
8am @100 early bird / $125 @ location

Sept 7,2019
San Diego California
8am @100 early bird / $125 @ location

Sept 29-30
2 day mandatory League Showcase
Ray Kroc baseball complex Yuma az
8am @$350 early bird / $450 @location
Received $25 back by mentioning Indy Ball Island.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the league?
Player will have opportunities to do one on ones with their coaches and get in extra work plus have direct contact with the owner and media.
Players will have opportunities to understand a professional contract, the terms and what is needed to sign one for future purposes. Creating 5 Tool players on the field and off the field is our goal to get you ready for spring.
FWL will also be giving back to community through neighborhood community service, kids clinics and big brother programs.
Our goal is to better baseball and community ties overall.


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 http://www.desertleague.com

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.