Independent baseball set for seasons
Independent leagues in Portland and Salem join the West Coast League and High A minors starting in May
When Major League Baseball announced its revised lineup of Minor League teams and affiliations, it left Salem-Keizer Volcanoes out of the Northwest League. In fact, it left the Northwest League out, too, replacing it with a simple West League for Class A teams now rated as High A.
Hillsboro and Eugene were kept afloat, though, moving up from the short-season level.
Faced with a season without a schedule, Volcanoes management invented a four-team league that will play an independent schedule through May and June.
It’s something the Portland Pickles, who play in the established wood bat West Coast League, did as well, with a schedule that runs from June to August.
The Hillsboro Hops (affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks) and Eugene Emeralds (San Francisco Giants) begin their seasons May 4. The West League includes four other teams: Everett AquaSox, Spokane Indians, Tri-City Dust Devils and Vancouver Canadians, who will play their home games in Hillsboro.
The West Coast League promotes a solid roster of players who have reached the Majors, led by Shane Bieber, who played for the Cowlitz Black Knights in 2014, and won the American League Cy Young Award last season with the Cleveland Indians.
Adley Rutschman, who played with the Corvallis Knights in 2016, was the top draft pick in the 2019 draft after a stellar career at Oregon State. Rutschman is ranked No. 2 on the list of minor league prospects across the Majors heading into the 2021 season.
The West Coast League consists of 15 teams this year, with the five Canadian teams slated to play each other, while the 10 teams in Oregon and Washington playing each other as well. Oregon is represented by the Pickles, Knights and Bend Elks. League play begins June 4.
The Mavericks League includes the Volcanoes, Salem Senators, Portland Mavericks and Campesino De Salem-Keizer, and will play doubleheaders on Fridays and Saturdays at Volcanoes Stadium. League play begins May 13.
The Wild Wild West League will play its games at the Pickles home - Walker Stadium - beginning June 10. The league consists of the Gresham Greywolves, Portland Gerkins, Portland Rosebuds and Willamette Wild Bills.