Ryan Urges MLB Not to Cut Mahoning Valley Scrappers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — In a letter sent Tuesday Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan joined a bipartisan group of 105 House members urging the league not to end its affiliation with 42 Minor League teams, including the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

The Scrappers, who play out of Eastwood Field in Niles, are among the teams named in a potential restructuring of lower leagues that could lead to as many as 25% of Minor League teams losing their player development contract for the 2021 season, Baseball America reported Monday.

The decision would put as many as 1,200 players out of work and “should be immediately reversed,” said Ryan, D-13 Ohio.

“The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are a pillar of our community and provide an affordable and fun way for families to spend time together,” Ryan said in a release. “The Scrappers allow our community to see future-major league all-stars up close, including Scrappers alumni like Francisco Lindor, Victor Martinez, Jose Ramirez, and CC Sabathia. I hope Major League Baseball takes this message to heart and will continue to provide the Scrappers the support from Major League Baseball that allows the great American pastime to exist in our community.”

The playing surface at Eastwood Field was recently replaced and additions were made to the clubhouse with a weight room and player area to the tune of nearly $600,000.

Minor League Baseball, or MiLB, finished its 15th consecutive season with attendance at more than 40 million. It was also the ninth-largest single season in more than 100 years.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers said it cannot officially comment on the reports as negotiations between the MLB and MiLB are ongoing and in the early stages. The organization said nothing will be decided in the process “for a very long time.”

“The Scrappers have been a staple of the Mahoning Valley for over 20 years,” said Jordan Taylor, general manager, vice president of HWS Baseball,. “The Scrappers provide the Mahoning Valley with affordable, family friendly entertainment, support many local businesses, employ hundreds of individuals, donate hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable funds and connect the community to the game of baseball and Major League Baseball. If the MLB reorganization effort was enacted, it would have a devastating effect on the community.”

The MLB’s chief concerns are “facility standards and significant distance of some clubs from their affiliates,” according to the Scrappers’ statement. The organization said it meets facility standards and has “good travel” within the New York Penn League.

“Therefore, though we recognize the press surrounding this is hard to ignore, we want to stress that it will be business as usual for the 2020 season for the Cleveland Indians affiliate in Niles and we have a strong hope the Mahoning Valley Scrappers will be a part of this community for many more years to come,” the Scrappers said.

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers are the Short Season Single A Affiliate of the Cleveland Indians and open up their season at home on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.