An official announcement still has to be made but it became clear that the Appalachian League, one of the lowest levels of professional affiliated baseball will turn into a summer wood-bat collegiate league.
As part of the contraction of 42 minor league clubs and three leagues as a whole, MLB will announce in the coming days that the Appy League will become a collegiate wood bat league in order to keep baseball in the towns that would have lost baseball otherwise. Players are expected to be selected with the assistance of USA Baseball and will be part of the Collegiate National Team development program. Many of the Appalachian League’s teams are not far from USA Baseball’s National Training Center in Cary, N.C.
Earlier this week, MLB gave a signal that it is not bound to affiliated ball as they signed deals with the independent Frontier League and Atlantic League. These leagues will become a kind of Guinea Pig as MLB will try out several rule changes there before implementing them into the Bigs.
As the teams of the Appalachian League are owned by the parent clubs itself, and the teams do not make enough money to continue as professional independent teams, the move of making them a part of a wood-bat league isn’t a bad idea. Since collegiate players do not earn money, all the income from ticket sales, sales of merchandise and amenities will go to the club. Only the staff needs to be paid.
Since the Pulaski Yankees will remain a part of affiliated ball, that team will not join the other teams in becoming summer collegiate teams.
Now the question remains what will happen with the other 32 teams that will be contracted.
Source: Baseball America