It’s been well-documented that Major League Baseball has been looking to pare down the number of teams in the Minor League Baseball system. The news has been the point of discussion many times, and a list of more than 40 teams to be cut was released months ago. MLB has now started that reduction in teams, starting with the Appalachian League.
According to Baseball America, MLB will be moving the Appy League and its ten teams to a collegiate wood bat summer league for freshman and sophomores; the official announcement is due to be delivered on Tuesday. As part of the Professional Baseball Agreement between MLB and MiLB, which expired on Wednesday, the Appalachian League was not under a contract that is normally seen with the other MiLB leagues. The PBA allowed MLB to essentially do anything with the Appy League at will, which is what has happened now.
Unfortunately for the Minnesota Twins, this means that they will lose their Rookie-level affiliate in the Elizabethton Twins. The organization has been affiliated with the Elizabethton team since 1974, yielding 21 trips to the playoffs that have culminated in 12 league championships, the latest coming in 2018.
Fortunately, instead of outright disbanding the Appalachian League, western North Carolina and Virginia and northeast Tennessee will still have baseball in these cities during the summer and continue to watch young talent. Baseball America notes that the league will partner with the Collegiate National Team and USA Baseball to field teams and that the USA Baseball’s training facilities are not far away in Cary, North Carolina.