Danville Braves and Pulaski Yankees to change names with announcement of Appalachian League switch

Appalachian League Baseball
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Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 12:01 PM EDT
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Major League Baseball and USA Baseball have announced a new format for the Appalachian League, which means new names and logos will be coming for two local teams.

The league is designed to feature the nation’s top rising college freshmen and sophomores in wood-bat play each summer. In a statement about the announcement, “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.”

The Appalachian League will become a part of the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP), the effort between MLB and USA Baseball that establishes a player development pathway for amateur baseball players in the United States, and will be part of the identification and development process for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and other future national teams. Appalachian League participants will receive visibility to MLB Club scouts. Players will get instruction from former MLB players and educational programming designed to prepare them for careers as professional athletes.

Plans include a 54-game regular season and an annual All-Star Game. MLB and USA Baseball will provide support for the league’s staffing, player participation and administrative functions. The parties are in communication with the NCAA to ensure athlete eligibility requirements are met.

To kick off the new format, each of the 10 teams in the Appalachian League, including the Danville Braves and Pulaski Yankees, will change their names and logos to incorporate symbols and images important to their communities. That will happen before the 2021 season. MLB and USA Baseball have already begun the process of identifying and inviting the top 320 players to participate in the 2021 Appalachian League.

Bill Sgrinia, director of parks and recreation for the City of Danville, welcomed the announcement.

“Danville has had a long tradition as a baseball community and is extremely excited about keeping quality baseball in the city,” Sgrinia said. “We greatly enjoyed having the Danville Braves as part of our community and are sad to see them leave.  However, we are appreciative of MLB and USA Baseball providing this opportunity for continued baseball in Danville. We look forward to a new team as part of the community.”

Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, said: “We are thrilled to partner with USA Baseball and the Appalachian League communities to create a one-of-a-kind summer league that will attract the nation’s top collegiate players and allow local fans to see top prospects and future big-league stars in their hometowns. This announcement continues MLB’s commitment to preserving and growing baseball in communities around the United States. The road to the big leagues now runs through Appalachia.”

Mike Gaski, President of USA Baseball, said: “USA Baseball is excited for this unique opportunity to enhance the offerings within the Prospect Development Pipeline through the creation of a premier summer collegiate baseball league. Our commitment to the continued development of amateur athletes is paramount to our mission as the national governing body for the sport in the United States and it is an honor to align ourselves with a historic baseball brand such as the Appalachian League, as well as our partners in Major League Baseball. We look forward to welcoming elite-level college athletes to the Appalachian League and identifying players who will hope to one day play for Team USA.”

Dan Moushon, the President of the Appalachian League, said: “The communities of the Appalachian League have supported baseball since our founding in 1911. 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.”

Watch more on the impact of the new Appalachian League here.

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