Major League Baseball came out with a press release, presenting a new league, the so called Draft League. In this league, the former AA Trenton Thunder and three New York-Penn League members (West Virginia Black Bears, State College Spikes, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, and the Williamsport CrossCutters) will participate. Talks about a sixth team are ongoing.
According to the press release, the league will focus on top-prospects who are eligible to be drafted by MLB the summer of the year they are playing in that league
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 to showcase their abilities and gain exposure to MLB Clubs and fans next summer.
According to the press release, MLB shows commitment to the regions where affiliated ball will disappear by adding clubs from these areas… It is quite bitter for the clubs that are not picked to participate in the new Draft League. Barring an eventual fifth team from the New York-Penn League that will be invited to play in the new league, the Auburn DoubleDays, the Aberdeen IronBirds (although rumors swirl that the team will be moved to a higher league), the Batavia MuckDogs, the Norwich SeaUnicorns, the Staten Island Yankees, the Tri-City ValleyCats, the Lowell Spinners and the Vermont LakeMonsters will be without affiliated ball or organized baseball, in whatever shape, at all.
Plans include a 68-game regular season with an annual All-Star Break centered around the MLB Draft. MLB Draft League participants will receive unprecedented visibility to MLB Club 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.
The league’s staffing, player and coach recruitment, on-field operations, and administrative functions will be provided by PBR that will also use their media and technology platforms to promote the league and its players throughout the season.
President of the MLB Draft League will be Kerrick Jackson. Prior to joining PBR, Jackson served as the head coach at Southern University. Kerrick has plenty of experience as he was the Midwest Area Scouting Supervisor for the Washington Nationals, overseeing Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas for three years. Jackson also served as the recruiting coordinator at the University of Missouri for five years (2010-2015) and has held assistant roles at Nicholls State University, Fairfield University, Emporia State University and Coffeyville Community College. He has coached in the Cape Cod League and New England Collegiate Baseball League.
For sure, the Draft League is a replacement of the Rookie Ball leagues, with the difference that MLB owners don’t have to pay the players. And that is what it is all about for them.