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Mahoning Valley Scrappers stay safe at home

Staff file photo / R. Michael Semple A crowd of fans watches the Mahoning Valley Scrappers play at Eastwood Field in Niles. The Scrappers became a part of Major League Baseball, playing in a new league in 2021. The team has played in the Mahoning Valley since 1999.

NILES — The Mahoning Valley Scrappers will continue to play ball in the Valley.

Major League Baseball announced Monday the Scrappers will be part of the —-top college-level prospects who are eligible to be drafted that summer by MLB teams.”

“It’s great for the team, the Valley and the area as a whole because now there will be a pro team and it may be better,” Michael Savit, managing partner of the group that owns the Scrappers, said.

The league will be run by Prep Baseball Report — a scouting, events and media organization focused on youth ball, according to ESPN.

The new league’s five founding teams include the Scrappers, State College Spikes, West Virginia Black Bears, Williamsport Crosscutters and the Trenton Thunder. Every team except the Thunder previously had been in the New York Penn League.

A sixth team will be announced at a later date.

Instead of being an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians similar to years past, the Scrappers will be affiliated directly with MLB. The league is designed to have scouts from across Major League Baseball evaluate the prospects.

According to the Scrappers website, “MLB Draft League participants will receive unprecedented visibility to MLB club scouts through both in-person observation and state-of-the-art scouting technology, along with educational programming designed to prepare them for careers as professional athletes.”

Scrappers General Manager Jordan Taylor said the new league will give every MLB team the chance to see the “best of the best” prospects compete against one another.

Similar to the schedule in the past, the league will start play around June 1 and will wrap up around mid-August. Taylor said a schedule should be available “relatively soon.”

UNCERTAIN FUTURE

For almost a year, the team and local government officials have worked to keep the team here.

Taylor attributes the combined efforts as a contributing factor to the Scrappers’ retention. He said the success of the team, the Save the Scrappers campaign and the support of the community, among other things, was vital to keeping the team in Niles.

“We have been very thankful for the support from everyone,” Taylor said. “We couldn’t do it without the community’s support.”

At one point, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, spoke before Congress to do his part to keep the Scrappers playing ball.

“… I’m proud to say this announcement will not only protect the Scrappers but add value to our community and local baseball fans … The Scrappers are poised to continue providing our community amazing entertainment for many years to come,” Ryan said.

Many communities approved resolutions backing the team, including Niles.

“This is exciting. The team provides affordable baseball and entertainment all while being family oriented,” Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said. “The families, citizens and fans who rallied around the team need to be recognized as well. This was truly a team effort.”

nhawthorne@tribtoday.com

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