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Jays, Rays talk future of pro baseball in Mercer County

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(WVVA) - It's a question on the minds of many in the Minor League Baseball community -- what's next?

With the 2020 season being cancelled and reports of the MLB proposing a cut in the number of organizations, the future of baseball in the Two Virginias is not certain.

However, there is a renewed sense of optimism in both Bluefield and Princeton. A shift in the Minor League system seems likely, but both ball clubs are preparing to land on their feet, if it does.

"There's a possibility that 50 percent of minor league clubs, financially, will not be able to field a team next year -- that are owned privately," Bluefield Blue Jays general manager Rocky Malamisura said. "We're in a unique position because we are controlled by the Major League club -- the Appalachian League."

While it may come at the expense of another franchise, Malamisura has hope for 2021.

"We hate that they would lose their opportunity, but if we can bring baseball -- professional baseball affiliated back to Bluefield next year after the PBA negotiations ... that would be great," he continued.

Danny Shingleton, general manager of the Princeton Rays, is also hopeful for the future of his team.

"Sometime in September or October, they'll negotiate the PBA -- hopefully some good news for the Appalachian League -- we'll just have to wait and see," he said. "Right now we're focusing on 2021 and having a baseball team here and playing baseball throughout the summer."

Shingleton added that the work to prepare for the 2021 season, won't wait until the new year.

"We'll probably -- still meeting with our sponsors, our partners who come out here and support us," he said. "Meeting with our fans, keeping a positive attitude."

The Current Professional Baseball Agreement, or PBA, between the MLB and MiLB will expire on September 30. The following negotiations and new agreement will provide some clearer answers on the future of Minor League Baseball.

Nick Dugan

Sports Director

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