CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — On Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020 the MLB and USA Baseball announced the new format for the Appalachian League.
Both U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Captio and Joe Manchin were on a Zoom call with members of the MLB Network, MLB, Appalachian League and USA Baseball to discuss the new Appalachian League.
The new format shows the MLB’s commitment to the region, maintains the existing branding of the league, and assures that the Appalachian League will continue to host high-caliber baseball and future Major Leaguers for years to come.
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, 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.
Both Manchin and Capito released a statement about their excitement for the new format that allows baseball to stay in southern West Virginia.
“Though we have missed baseball this summer on the diamonds across West Virginia, today’s announcement is great news for Bluefield and Princeton, and frankly for anyone who enjoys watching our nation’s game in a West Virginia summer. The announcement of this new format for the Appalachian League made today by MLB and Baseball USA ensures future summer nights in Princeton and Bluefield will be spent watching our national pastime. This partnership will enable the baseball tradition that has existed for decades in Mercer County to continue for many to come. I couldn’t be happier,” Senator Capito said.
In November 2019, Senator Manchin vowed to find a solution to save West Virginia’s minor league teams after Major League Baseball considered eliminating teams in West Virginia.
“After months of conversations with Major League Baseball, USA Baseball, and the Appalachian League, I am pleased by this agreement to bring the Appalachian League into the Prospect Development Pipeline. This collaboration will directly benefit our two Appalachian League teams in Bluefield and Princeton, which provide many West Virginians with entertainment and family time and foster a love of the American pastime,” said Senator Manchin. “Through this new arrangement, our communities will host the premier baseball players in the country, giving West Virginians a chance to see baseball’s future stars before they reach the big leagues. I am committed to ensuring the future of all of West Virginia’s minor league teams, and I will work with everyone involved to ensure these teams receive the support they need to succeed during this transition and look forward to seeing top talent play in the Mountain State for many years to come.”
Plans include a 54-game regular season, an annual All-Star Game, a four-team Championship Series, and a tournament against champions of other summer leagues. MLB and USA Baseball will provide support for the league’s staffing, player participation, and administrative functions.