DENVER – Three Colorado teams will soon be part of a re-made Pioneer League independent baseball league, Major League Baseball announced Monday.
The Grand Junction Rockies, Rocky Mountain Vibes in Colorado Springs, and soon-to-be Northern Colorado Owlz will all play in the eight-team Pioneer League that used to be affiliated with Major League Baseball, but which will now be a so-called “partner league” made up of teams from Idaho, Colorado, Montana and Utah.
The Orem Owlz announced they would be moving to Windsor and would be playing at the Future Legends Complex, which is currently under construction, by spring 2022.
The Pioneer League had long been a rookie-level minor league affiliated with Major League clubs – with the Grand Junction Rockies being a Rockies affiliate, the Vibes being a Brewers affiliate and the Owlz being an Angels affiliate.
Starting next year, the Pioneer League will be what MLB calls a partner league – meaning they will no longer be affiliated with Major League clubs. But MLB will give initial funding for the league’s operating expenses and install scouting technology inside Pioneer League parks to scout players.
MLB says the agreement with the league also includes a procedure for players to transfer to MLB clubs.
The other teams in the league outside of Colorado will be the Billings Mustangs, Great Falls Voyagers, Idaho Falls Chukars, Missoula Paddleheads and the Ogden Raptors.
“Over the past year, we have worked closely with Pioneer League owners and elected officials to ensure the continued success of baseball in the Mountain West,” said MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Economics and Operations Morgan Sword. “We’re excited to support this new initiative and look forward to Pioneer League baseball returning in 2021.”
The Pioneer League is the fourth partner league of MLB.