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West Virginia Black Bears Named Founding Member of New ‘MLB Draft League’

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The West Virginia Black Bears will be a founding member of the Major League Baseball Draft League.

MLB, Prep Baseball Report and the five founding clubs announced the formation of the MLB Draft League on Monday morning — the first league in the United States focused on top prospects eligible to be drafted that summer.

The Black Bears, formerly of the New York-Penn League prior to MLB’s recent restructuring of minor league baseball, will be joined by the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Trenton Thunder, the State College Spikes and the Mahoning Valley Scrappers as founding members of the new league, though the release from MLB did indicated discussions ongoing with a potential sixth team.

The MLB Draft League will begin play in 2021 and feature a 68-game season with an annual All-Star break.

Monday’s news means three of the Mountain State’s four former MLB affiliated minor league clubs will have a home in 2021. Bluefield and Princeton will be part of the “new” Appalachian League and the Black Bears, located in Morgantown, will be with the new MLB Draft League. The West Virginia Power, a longtime member of the “low-A” South Atlantic League located in Charleston, currently sits without a Major League affiliate after the news last week that the Seattle Mariners are ending their partnership with the Charleston club.

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Tom Bragg covers WVU, Marshall, high schools and other sports for West Virginia Sports Now. Tom spent more than a decade as a sports journalist based in West Virginia covering high school, college, youth and professional sports for newspapers in Huntington, Fairmont and Charleston before joining WVSN in 2020. Tom is a graduate of Marshall University's W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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