Possible Minor League Baseball realignment brings uncertainty for Appalachian League

Major League Baseball's proposal could eliminate 40 teams from minors

PULASKI, Va. – The World Series is underway, marking Major League Baseball's biggest games of the year, but questions remain about what could happen to its minor leagues.

Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball are negotiating the terms of its next contract, and a proposal by Major League Baseball could significantly alter the minors. Major League Baseball proposed eliminating 40 teams from the minor league ranks, which could put lower-level leagues such as the Appalachian League in jeopardy.

"It's certainly eye-opening when somebody tells you they want to make a change like that," said Minor League Baseball Director of Communications Jeff Lantz. "They have some issues with some facilities across the minor leagues, as well as some travel issues that have come up over the years."

The move could put teams such as the Pulaski Yankees and Danville Braves at risk, but Lantz said Minor League Baseball is committed to keeping all of its teams.

"Minor League Baseball is kind of like the front porch of our communities," Lantz said. "It's everything a family would want to do."

Pulaski Yankees general manager Betsy Haugh says her team has cemented itself as a part of the town's tradition.

"This team is an asset for the town of Pulaski," Haugh said. "I like to tell people Pulaski is a small town with a big baseball heart."

Minor League Baseball awarded the Yankees the John H. Johnson President's Award on Wednesday — making it the first team in the Appalachian League to ever accomplish that feat — because of increasing attendance and the experience at Calfee Park.

"We try to do the best that we can to promote our ballpark, but our fans do it themselves by sharing they have a good time here, as well," Haugh said. "We want to be Pulaski's team and the New River Valley's team."

Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball's current agreement runs through next September, so any drastic changes in any new deal will not impact this upcoming baseball season.

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