NORTHEAST TENNESSEE (WJHL) The Appalachian League has launched the professional careers of several baseball hall-of-fame players since its inception back in 1911.
As News Channel 11 Sports first reported last month, it is now changing its format, but with the same goal in mind.
The Appy League is set to become the first collegiate summer league in prospect development
pipeline (PDP) for rising college freshmen and sophomores, according to the news release.
The league is now part of a collaborative effort between USA Baseball and Major League Baseball, to establish a pathway for amateur players in the United States. This will allow them to be identified in the process for the USA Baseball Collegiate national teams and future national teams.
Its rich history, established in 1911.
“Hall of Fame players like, Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken Jr., Kirby Puckett, Jim Thome all played in the league,” Appalachian League president, Dan Moushon said.
“It’s going to give our staff– the USA Baseball staff, a chance to see these guys up close for a longer period of time as we select our national team, whether it be selecting our college national team or subsequently selecting some professional teams that we put together for international competition,” USA Baseball President Mike Gaski said.
The Appalachian League will feature top college freshmen and sophomores in wood-bat play each summer.
MLB Executive Vice President for Baseball Economics and Operations Morgan Sword said: “We’re hoping that one of the benefits of bringing a group of 300 college players into these cities every summer, is that we’re going to forge deeper connections between these players and these communities.”
“We’re grateful to major league baseball for preserving this tradition and following their commitment to keep baseball in our communities,” Moushon said.
Because the teams are in close proximity, scouts will be able to visit each field with ease.
“The difference here, a lot of times in Minor League Baseball, each team might send their own scouts to scout their league, but when you’re looking at prospects like you’re going to be here with Major League Baseball, you’re going to see all 30 teams represented, in depth,” television analyst for the MLB Network and retired professional second baseman Harold Reynolds said.
The new format begins in the Summer of 2021.
It is said to a quality league with the nation’s top 320 players, in this particular age group. Team officials stated the best part of all; the long tradition of the league will stay here and so will its revenue.
“I think it’s a really big deal,” Boyd Sports, LLC Vice President Jeremy Boler said.
Boyd Sports owns three Appy League teams. Boler said he is thrilled about the new developments for the league.
“Really, really excited because there was no other alternative. it was either that or we don’t have a league. So, I think it’s a great opportunity for our league, all 10 of our teams, five local communities in the Tri-Cities can continue baseball,” Boler said.
By keeping the league but changing its format, the Tri-Cities region will continue to receive revenue from fans and players.
“The teams that have been here in the past have spent somewhere around $400,00 for housing, food and beverage,” Kingsport Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jud Teague said. “It’s an economic reason as well as a quality of life reason.
Kingsport Mets General Manager Brian Paupeck also releasing a statement on the news:
“We are so appreciative of the support received from the Kingsport community through theBrian Paupeck
many years of our affiliation. The City of Kingsport and Visit Kingsport have been loyal
partners and our collaboration reinforced our tight bond. They always ensured that
Kingsport’s facilities were among the finest in the league. This region has been an integral
part and destination in the development of franchise type players such as Daryl Strawberry,
Dwight Gooden, David Wright, Jacob deGrom among many others. Finally, a heartfelt thank
you to the generations of fans that have come out to the ballpark to cheer on the KMets.”
Kingsport Mets General Manager
Tennessee congressman Phil Roe also weighing on the announcement:
“This agreement between the Appalachian League and Major League Baseball sounds like good news for our community. We have a long, rich history of baseball in Northeast Tennessee, and I am glad that tradition will continue.”Phil Roe, M.D.
United States Congressman of Tennessee
Officials are calling it quality baseball at a very low price.
“The only difference is who’s sending us players. It’s not the Cardinals, Twins or the Reds. Now it’s USA Baseball sending us players and we have to make sure they have everything they need,” Boler said.
The ten teams have decided to change their names, however, the new team names are waiting on feedback and will not be released until around October, according to Boler.
Watch more on the impact of the new Appalachian League in our region, here.