WOAY – Major League Baseball and USA Baseball announced Tuesday that starting next year, the Appalachian League will go to a collegiate wood-bat format, featuring the top college freshmen and sophomores.
A statement regarding the format change read in part, “The Appalachian League will become a part of the Prospect Development Pipeline (“PDP”), the collaborative effort between MLB and USA Baseball that establishes a player development pathway for amateur baseball players in the United States, and will be an integral part of the identification and development process for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and other future national teams….The new format affirms MLB’s commitment to the region, maintains the existing branding of the league, and assures that the Appalachian League will continue to host high-caliber baseball and future Major Leaguers for years to come.”
Previously, the Appalachian League had been part of the Rookie level on the Minor League Baseball/Major League Baseball ladder, with each team sharing the nickname of its parent club.
There will be 10 Appalachian League teams in 2021, including in Princeton and Bluefield, but each team will change their name and logo to use symbols important to their local communities.
U.S Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) posted a statement in favor of the announcement, saying “I am pleased by this agreement to bring the Appalachian League into the Prospect Development Pipeline. This collaboration will directly benefit our two Appalachian League teams in Bluefield and Princeton, which provide many West Virginians with entertainment and family time and foster a love of the American pastime.”