Next to the announcement of the Draft League, earlier today, MLB came with another press release today. In this press release it was unveiled that the Pioneer League will continue to exist. Not as an affiliated league but as an independent partner league of MLB.
According to the press release, the Pioneer League will transition from affiliated status to an independent professional MLB Partner League that continues to provide high-quality baseball to the states of Idaho, Montana, Utah and Colorado. All eight members of the Pioneer League, the Billings Mustangs, the Grand Junction Rockies, the Great Falls Voyagers, the Idaho Falls Chukars, the Missoula PaddleHeads, the Ogden Raptors, the Northern Colorado Owlz (formerly known as the Orem Owlz) and the Rocky Mountain Vibes, will continue participating in the league and will maintain their existing team names and brands.
MLB will provide initial funding for the league’s operating expenses, as well as install scouting technology in Pioneer League ballparks to provide MLB Clubs with first-class scouting information on Pioneer League players. Also the new agreement will include a procedure for player transfers to MLB Clubs. The Leagues also will explore joint marketing, ticketing and fan engagement opportunities.
Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, said: “Over the past year, we have worked closely with Pioneer League owners and elected officials to ensure the continued success of baseball in the Mountain West. We’re excited to support this new initiative and look forward to Pioneer League baseball returning in 2021.”
The Pioneer League will become the fourth “independent” partner league of MLB next to the Atlantic League, the American Association and the Frontier League.
It is good to read that the league will stay alive and that its towns will still have access to baseball. But the word “independent” is a major joke. Sure the teams are not linked to any MLB club anymore but with the cooperation with MLB, the exploration of joint marketing, ticketing and fan engagement, and MLB will be paying the league’s operating expenses and install scouting technology in Pioneer League ballparks, the Pioneer league will not be an independent league at all.
And by giving them the opportunity to place scouting equipment in Pioneer League’s ballparks, the Pioneer League has become another league that will be abused by MLB, so the MLB owners don’t have to pay a dime to the players that are playing there.