New MLB-sponsored summer baseball league could include Valley franchise

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Major League Baseball is launching a venture called the MLB Draft League that could include a team from the Shenandoah Valley.

MLB and project partner Prep Baseball Report announced the founding members of the new league, which will debut in 2021 – the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the State College Spikes, the Trenton Thunder, the West Virginia Black Bears, and the Williamsport Crosscutters.

“We are thrilled to partner with Prep Baseball Report and the founding members of the MLB Draft League to create a one-of-a-kind league that will attract the nation’s top players who are eligible for each year’s MLB Draft 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,” said Morgan Sword, the executive vice president for baseball economics and operations at MLB.

A release on the new league’s website relayed the news that advanced discussions are ongoing with a sixth team, with hopes from league officials to make an announcement on that in the coming weeks.

We’ve learned that discussions have been initiated with a group in Harrisonburg about joining the league, which will become the first league in the country focused on top prospects who are eligible to be drafted by MLB clubs that summer.

We’re also aware of reports that the league could be interested in adding teams in Winchester and Hagerstown, Md.

With the 2021 MLB Draft moved back to July and being held as part of All-Star Week, draft-eligible players will have a unique opportunity in the MLB Draft League to showcase their abilities and gain exposure to MLB Clubs and fans next summer.

Plans include a 68-game regular season with an annual All-Star Break centered around the MLB Draft.

Players will receive visibility to MLB scouts through both in-person observation and state-of-the-art scouting technology, and educational programming designed to prepare them for careers as professional athletes.

Prep Baseball Report will provide support for the league’s staffing, player and coach recruitment, on-field operations, and administrative functions.

PBR will also use its media and technology platforms to promote the league and its players throughout the season.

“We are honored to work with these ownership groups and Major League Baseball to assure the future of impactful, high-level baseball to the region and continue the legacy of deep community involvement from all of these teams,” PBR President Sean Duncan said. “With more than 150 scouts and operations personnel coast-to-coast at the high school, collegiate and junior college levels, we take great pride in our ability to identify the nation’s top amateur draft prospects, which will ultimately make the MLB Draft League the preeminent league for draft-eligible players.”

Story by Chris Graham


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