PRINCETON — After a lost season to disease overshadowed by uncertainty about the future, the Appalachian League received good news Tuesday as officials from Major League Baseball and USA Baseball made a major announcement about its future.
The 10-team league founded in 1911 will be the first league to be used in the joint Prospect Development Pipeline, a program where 300-plus top rising college freshmen and sophomore baseball players play using wooden bats.
Concord Athletic Director/Head Baseball Coach Kevin Garrett said, “I think it’s an interesting adjustment to player development and a way to keep high-level baseball in the area.”
The new AL, which starts play in 2021, will be a summer league running from June t. hrough August. It will be 54 games plus an All-Star Game.
The 10 teams will be rebranded and given new names and logos reflecting the history and culture of the host communities.
Garrett added, “It will keep baseball in the area. You’ll see a lot of good talent through USA Baseball given the opportunity to showcase their talents .The people of Princeton and Bluefield could be seeing future major leaguers.,”
The league will be overseen by a 14-person board.
Selection of players will be done via a draft.
NCAA eligibility rules will be observed.
“Given the opportunity, we have players who could play on those teams. I think it would expand interest if there were Concord and other local college players in the league,” Garrett said.
Princeton Mayor David Graham said,”The City of Princeton and our many local fans eagerly look forward to the return of Appalachian League baseball to the community. Minor league baseball has been enjoyed locally for the past 30-plus years and we have a wonderful facility in which to host it. The new structure of the league, plus the opportunity to brand our own team, will absolutely create enhanced interest and community support. We appreciate the efforts of Major League Baseball, USA Baseball, the Appalachian League and our local team representatives in this endeavor. “
Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at email@example.com