With the Major League Baseball season underway and the minor leagues already going strong, I thought we’d take a look at the independent leagues that will get going soon. Every year there seem to be new players and old ones going by the wayside. This year there are still a few strong leagues poised to have strong seasons.
Easily the most successful league, the Atlantic League has been strong for years featuring many former MLB players. The eight team league has already kicked off the season with the league’s defending champion off to a 14-4 start as the Somerset Patriots continue to field a strong team. The league has also conditionally approved a 9th franchise for 2017 in the Virginia Beach Neptunes.
This coming week the longest running independent league will kick off its 2016 season. The league will feature 12 teams located around the mid-west all the way from Missouri to Pennsylvania. The Traverse City Beach Bums look to defend the franchise’s third title, but the first since the team moved from Richmond in 2006. The league has been going since 1993.
Empire Professional Baseball League
The newest entry into the independent game is the Empire League with four teams from the Northeastern US. The league is a replacement for the North Country Baseball League that lasted a single season. Three of the teams from the NCBL will play in the Empire League this summer starting in June.
The Pecos League is back for its 6th season with teams in the Southwestern USA. The league will feature 10 teams with the Roswell Invaders looking to defend their 2015 title and third overall. The league will kick off its season this coming week.
The Pacific Association is back for its 4th season. The league has four teams around California. The season will begin in just under a month with the San Rafael Pacifics look to defend their 2015 title. The Pacifics are the two-time defending champs.
Canadian American Association
The Can-Am League kicks off its 12th season in just under two weeks time. The six team league looks to build on its experience and the support it has built up in Canada and in places like New York and New Jersey. The Trois-Rivieres Aigles look to defend their 2015 title and first in franchise history. The New Jersey Jackals will look to break through into the championship column after finishing runner-up for the past five seasons. The Jackals have won four championships in franchise history back in the old Northeast League Days of the last 90s early 00s.
The AA is back as well for its 11th season as the Laredo Lemurs look to defend their title from a year ago. The 12 team league has had some strong teams in recent years and has former MLB talent running several teams including last years champion Laredo with Pete Incaviglia. The league will kick off its 2016 season later this month.
We hope to bring you some updates on the leagues as the season progresses. We intend to take another look at the managers in the different leagues and highlight some of the up and coming stars there. We also hope to bring you some interviews and photos from some of the stadiums as we travel and take in a few games.