Revamped Pioneer League includes three Colorado baseball teams

A revamped Pioneer League will include three minor-league teams playing baseball in Colorado.

The Grand Junction Rockies, Rocky Mountain Vibes in Colorado Springs and Northern Colorado Owlz in Windsor will be part of an eight-team independent league, Major League Baseball announced Monday.

The Pioneer League has been designated a “partner league” of MLB. That means that beginning in 2021, teams in the Pioneer League will no longer be affiliated with major league teams. Instead, the teams will operate as independent clubs in Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Utah.

The Grand Junction Rockies had been serving as the Rockies rookie-league team but it will no longer directly feed players into the Rockies’ system.

MLB has pledged to help the league get started with its new format.

“MLB will provide initial funding for the league’s operating expenses, as well as install scouting technology in Pioneer League ballparks to provide MLB clubs with first-class scouting information on Pioneer League players,” the announcement said. “The agreement will also include a procedure for player transfers to MLB clubs. The leagues also will explore joint marketing, ticketing and fan engagement opportunities.”

In addition to the three Colorado teams, the other members of the Pioneer League are the Billings (Mont.) Mustangs, Great Falls (Mont.) Voyagers, Idaho Falls Chukars, Missoula (Mont.) PaddleHeads and Ogden (Utah) Raptors. All of the teams will retain their existing team names and brands.

This story will be updated

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