The upstart American West Baseball League, scheduled to begin play in May 2013, recently announced that it will have its first winter league. The model will be similar to other pay-to-play professional winter instructional development baseball leagues. The intent is to have players who either feel as if they are overlooked, want instruction from current independent baseball managers and coaching staff members, or simply want more exposure to go to a higher level of professional play. The players would then pay a fee to join the league, including housing and meals, and get instruction for several weeks.
Some of these winter (or spring) pro instructional and developmental leagues, with ties to the independent baseball industry, are also loosely connected to international leagues. They occasionally help players gain opportunities to play internationally. Most industry veterans agree that this area of helping players get to and/or recruit from international leagues is a “nebulous” area in the pro baseball industry. Nonetheless, if an aspiring or current professional baseball player wants to play internationally then these winter and spring developmental leagues often can be the simplest way to gain exposure to the international baseball community. Scouts and coaches from international teams, or other international representatives, often come to these leagues or the official tryouts held during these instructional league sessions.
Here is the announcement from the AWBL website:
The upcoming AWBL winter league would start in January and be held in Yuma, Arizona.
There are other winter instructional development baseball leagues with ties to the independent baseball leagues. These include:
- Texas Winter League (run by the United League teams ownership group): http://www.texaswinterleague.com — to run in Harlingen Texas during February
- California Winter League with managers from multiple independent leagues: http://www.californiawinterleague.com — to run in Palm Springs California starting in mid-January
- Pecos Spring League (run by the Pecos League) http://www.pecosleague.com/pecosleague.asp?page=2002 — to run in Houston Texas in March
- American West Baseball League (mentioned earlier)
No winter or spring professional baseball developmental (instructional) leagues are being operated by these leagues at this time:
- American Association
- Atlantic League
- Can-Am League
- Frontier League
- Pacific Baseball Association (click the link to see more about the PBA and its involvement in independent minor league baseball)
- Freedom Pro Baseball League (uncertain regarding its return in 2013)
There are other “professional development baseball leagues” which operate out of Florida, California and other warm weather locations; and they have a track record of helping players get exposure into the independent professional baseball leagues. It is just that these developmental leagues are operated completely as third-party entities, often with no connection to the actual professional independent leagues which intend to operate the next season.
Should you have questions about these instructional development baseball leagues then you are welcome to contact the operating leagues directly. You also may leave your comments on this post, and you are welcome to share this post on other forums or social media properties if you believe that others would benefit from the content.
There are several good books about the independent professional baseball leagues. You are welcome to see a list of suggestions through this link: Books Get notified of upcoming independent baseball tryouts from either of these services: first service or the second service. Prospective players can find some helpful resources here We will be providing a growing list of possibly helpful tips and suggestions on various baseball information. This will range from "how to" information about baseball skills all the way to helpful information for casual baseball fans. Please click the link for more information: Tips And How To Information