Major League Baseball and USA Baseball jointly announced today a new format for the Appalachian League, which will feature the nation’s top rising college freshmen and sophomores in wood-bat play each summer. The new format affirms 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 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.
To herald the start of this exciting new format, each of the 10 teams in the Appalachian League have decided to undertake a process for changing their names and logos to incorporate symbols and images important to their respective local communities, to be adopted before the 2021 season. MLB and USA Baseball have already begun the process of identifying and inviting the top 320 players to participate in the 2021 Appalachian League.
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.”
The league will be guided by a Steering Committee composed of leaders from collegiate and professional baseball:
- Chris Allen – President & COO, Boyd Sports
- Ashley Bratcher – Senior Director - Baseball Operations, USA Baseball
- Eric Campbell – General Manager - National Teams, USA Baseball
- Tim Corbin – Head Baseball Coach, Vanderbilt University
- John D’Angelo – Vice President - Amateur & Medical, MLB
- Dan Hartleb – Head Baseball Coach, University of Illinois
- Gil Kim – Director Of Player Development, Toronto Blue Jays
- Bryan Minniti – Assistant General Manager, Philadelphia Phillies
- Dan Moushon – President, Appalachian League
- Jalen Phillips – Coordinator - Draft Operations, MLB
- Steve Sanders – Assistant General Manager, Pittsburgh Pirates
- John Savage – Head Baseball Coach, UCLA
- Bill Schmidt – Vice President, Scouting, Colorado Rockies
- Edwin Thompson – Head Baseball Coach, Georgetown University
Watch more on the impact of the new Appalachian League here: https://www.mlb.com/video/appalachian-league-explanatory