DANVILLE, Va. (WFXR/WJHL) — The Danville Braves and Pulaski Yankees will end their affiliations with their respective Major League Baseball organizations and overhaul their team names as the Appalachian League rebrands as a summer collegiate wood-bat league, starting next season.
“The communities of the Appalachian League have supported baseball since our founding in 1911,” Appalachian League president Dan Moushon said. “We are grateful to MLB and USA Baseball for bringing this exciting opportunity to our fans and look forward to welcoming players, coaches, MLB scouts and fans into our cities next summer.”
The Danville Braves are the current longest-standing affiliated team for the Atlanta Braves, boasting a 27-year history with the same major league club. This is the longest affiliation the Braves have had with any minor league organization since the Richmond Braves were the team’s Triple-A club from 1966-2008.
“We thank the city of Danville for their support over nearly three decades of Braves baseball and wish continued success to the city,” said Chip Moore, Braves Executive Vice President, Minor League Affiliates and Strategic Planning. “I would personally like to thank our Danville staff and especially Brandon Bennett and Stephen Brunson for their hard work during this transition.”
Even before the pandemic outbreak, the future of the Appy League was in question.
The league will be restructured entirely moving forward. It is transforming from minor league affiliates to a collegiate wood-bat league; a summer league for the nation’s most promising college freshmen and sophomores.
According to a release from the MLB, the Appy League will become part of the Prospect Development Pipeline effort to help create a pathway for amateur baseball players.
“You are going to get some of the best college players in the country from some of the premier programs. Guys in the World Series, they’re going to be coming to Johnson City, Elizabethton,” said Jeff Lantz, director of communications for Minor League Baseball.
Lantz anticipates these college players will bring in a lot of recruits to the region, looking to draft them to D1 colleges, or even to the MLB. Most of these players will likely continue on to the Cape Cod League for juniors and seniors before possibly jumping to the majors.
The release says players in the Appy League will also be instructed by former MLB players and have access to educational programs that prepare them for a career in the MLB.
The league will receive support from both MLB and USA Baseball in terms of staffing, administration and player participation.
The league will also adopt a 54-game regular season and an All-Star Game if plans go accordingly.
From this point on, the Appy League will no longer be affiliated with Minor League Baseball at all. It’s affiliation now lies exclusively with MLB as a collegiate program.
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