The long-awaited new independent-baseball league from Frank Boulton and crew, the Diamond League, was announced today, with a game plan focused on developing younger undrafted players.
According to league founders Boulton and Michael Pfaff, the Diamond League is being formed to create a platform for the developing professional baseball player. In the past, there were no limits to the number of rounds in the MLB draft, but in recent years the number of rounds has been cut first to 50 rounds and then to 40. Players like Mike Piazza (drafted in the 62nd round) and Keith Hernandez (drafted in the 42nd round of the Rule 4 draft) are just a couple of examples of players that would not have been drafted if current limits were in place at the time of their drafts. For the Diamond League, rosters will be comprised of a minimum of 22 players and a maximum of 24 players. Players must be 21 years of age and no player may be 26 prior to January 1 of the current season. No player with five or more years of professional service will be eligible to play in the Diamond League.
Enter the Diamond League, which was unveiled today. It's been talked about for many month; with the organizers having ties to the independent Atlantic League -- CEO Boulton is also CEO and founder of the Atlantic League, while the executive director of the new circuit is Long Island Ducks president and GM Michael Pfaff -- the new league has been the subject to much speculation. It's not directly tied to the Atlantic League, though there are many indirect ties.
The Diamond League has announced that an advisory board has also been created consisting of professional baseball owners, executives, former major league players and current college coaches. The members of the advisory board include Joe Klein, former general manager of the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers; Bud Harrelson, former major league player and manager; Peter Kirk, president of the Atlantic League and minor league team owner; Kevin Baez, former MLB player and current Atlantic League manager; Tony Rosenthal, long-time minor league owner; Ellie Rodriguez, former MLB player; Joe Godri, current coach of the Villanova University Wildcats; and Tal Smith, former president of the Houston Astros.
The current plan is for a 60-game, six-team league in 2014, with an 84-game, 8-team league. No word yet on the first six teams in the league; areas like Worcester, Atlantic City and Sussex County have been rumored to be in the mix. The team's webite is at diamondprobaseball.com; you can follow the circuit on Twitte as well at @DiamondProBB.
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