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No. 10 of 2020: Scrappers end year safe at home base in Niles

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are looking back at 2020’s Top 10 stories, as chosen by the newspaper staff, for our countdown to New Year’s Eve. Today’s story ranks No. 10 of the year.

NILES — This year was a time of uncertainty for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Toward the end of 2019 and into 2020, the future of the Valley’s backyard professional baseball team was up in the air for some time after Major League Baseball announced it was going to reconfigure the Minor League system and cut a potential 42 teams.

Fans and supporters of the team immediately sprung into action to save the team.

Assistance came from all corners of the Valley and state, for that matter. Local governments signed resolutions to save the team and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine intervened to do what they could to keep the Scrappers in Niles.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a rally was held where fans packed the Eastwood Mall to show support to their beloved Scrappers.

As things turned out, the Scrappers will play ball at Eastwood Field.

NEW BEGINNINGS

On Nov. 30, MLB announced a new type of league called the MLB Draft League with top college-level prospects “eligible to be drafted that summer by MLB teams.”

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 are the Scrappers, State College Spikes, West Virginia Black Bears, Williamsport Crosscutters and 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 MLB scouts evaluate the prospects.

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

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, were 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.”

nhawthorne@tribtoday.com

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