Saturday, January 9, 2010

Arizona Winter League Season Kicks Off Jan. 29th

The Arizona Winter League (AWL), an independent instructional league associated with the Golden League, is set to start its fourth season on January 29th.  This eight-team league will feature a Canadian division with the "Calgary Vipers", Team Canada, Saskatchewan Silver Sox and the Western Canada Miners.  The American division will include the "Yuma Scorpions", San Diego Surf Dawgs, San Luis Athleticos, and the Blythe Heat.  Unlike the summer independent leagues, winter (instructional) independent leagues charge players to play.  The AWL charges each player up to $3,500 USD for the chance to get a head-start on spring training, get some instruction and hopefully be noticed by a scout.

After the season concludes on February 27th, at least 17 (summer) independent league teams will participate in a draft to select players for their upcoming season.  All Golden League teams will participate this year and they will be joined by a Can-Am League team (Sussex), two Frontier League teams (Florence and Normal), two Northern League teams (Rockford and Kansas City), two American Association teams (Fort Wort and Sioux City) and one team from the Mexican Liga Del Norte (San Luis).  In the first three AWL seasons, over 130 players have been signed to pro contracts.

The AWL has announced that two women will be participating this season.  In addition to Japanese pitcher Eri Yoshida (see my blog post from December 16th), former Gonzago softball player Tiffany Brooks will also be looking to sign on with a professional baseball team this summer.  In fact, the two women will be roommates this winter and will both play for the Yuma Scorpions.  An interesting interview with Tiffany can be found here.

At least six GBL managers will be managing / instructing in the AWL.  However, Victoria Seals manager Darrell Evans will be busy running the fledgling California Winter League (CWL) during this time -- the CWL schedule also starts on January 29th and wraps up at the end of February.  Seals coach Dan DiPace will act as an instructor during the CWL season.  Let's hope that Evans and DiPace will unearth some talent for the Victoria squad this winter.

All AWL games played in Yuma will be broadcast on the internet at  The league's schedule can be found here.