Pioneer League becoming MLB 'Partner League'
A new brand of baseball is coming to the Mountain time zone in 2021. The Pioneer League has been designated a "Partner League" of Major League Baseball, both the circuit and MLB announced Monday. The move will transform the Rookie Advanced loop into an independent league and comes as part
A new brand of baseball is coming to the Mountain time zone in 2021.
The Pioneer League has been designated a "Partner League" of Major League Baseball, both the circuit and MLB announced Monday. The move will transform the Rookie Advanced loop into an independent league and comes as part of a series of changes to the Minor League landscape following the expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement earlier this fall.
All eight Pioneer League teams -- the Billings Mustangs, Grand Junction Rockies, Great Falls Voyagers, Idaho Falls Chukars, Missoula PaddleHeads, Ogden Raptors, Northern Colorado Owlz and Rocky Mountain Vibes -- will transfer to the new format and maintain their current branding, though the Owlz will relocate as they’ve played in Orem, Utah, since 2005. The season will feature a 92-game regular-season schedule, beginning in late May and ending in early September.
Also part of Monday's news, MLB announced that it will initially fund the Pioneer League's operating expenses, provide scouting technology to all eight ballparks and create a procedure for player transfers to MLB organizations.
“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," said MLB executive vice president of baseball economics and operations Morgan Sword in a released statement. "We’re excited to support this new initiative and look forward to Pioneer League baseball returning in 2021.”
Earlier in the day, MLB announced that the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes, West Virginia Black Bears and Williamsport Crosscutters of the Class A Short Season New York-Penn League and the Trenton Thunder of the Double-A Eastern League would form the MLB Draft League next season. The Appalachian League (also formerly a Rookie Advanced circuit) will become a collegiate wood-bat league in 2021, as announced in September.
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.