TRENTON, NJ -- The crack of baseball bats will be heard again this spring at the Trenton Thunder Baseball Stadium under a new agreement announced on Monday. Major League Baseball in conjunction with MLB's partner, Prep Baseball Report (PBR), has formed the new MLB Draft League to complete League's 21st Century vision for minor league player development.
The future of the stadium had been in flux since November when the Yankees organization decided to part ways with the AA-affiliate Trenton Thunder.
Set to launch in 2021, the MLB-affiliated league will be anchored in New Jersey by the top-rated Trenton Thunder organization, and will be recognized as the Premier League in the country focused on baseball's top prospects eligible to be drafted by MLB clubs each summer.
"We are thrilled to share with our fans and sponsor partners the exciting news that your Trenton Thunder will be a founding member of the new MLB Draft League for the 2021 season and continue to bring family fun to ARM & HAMMER Park," said Thunder GM/COO Jeff Hurley. "The new MLB Draft League will showcase the best prospects in baseball eligible for the MLB draft. Thunder fans will get to know these players as they begin their path as future stars of Major League Baseball."
The MLB Draft League will feature an exciting jammed packed 68-game regular season, scheduled to run from late May to mid-August, with an annual All-Star Break centered around the MLB Draft and featuring Thunder players. Players will receive unprecedented visibility to MLB scouts through in-person observation and state-of-the-art scouting technology, as well as instruction from former MLB players on the Thunder staff.
The professional baseball coaching staff will develop the skills of Thunder players, with the dream of one day adding their names to the nearly 400 Thunder players who have made it to the Big Leagues.
"For legions of Trenton Thunder fans, the development of a new league showcasing up and coming talent will be a real thrill. Major League Baseball's success is built on a thriving minor league system, and for 27 years Thunder supporters have visited our Capital City, warmly welcoming new players and proudly cheering others on to the big leagues," said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes.
"Mercer County has made wise investments into the ballpark - benefiting both the fans and players - and the new Trenton Thunder team will be developed in a first-class facility. This news is a win for everyone - The Thunder, Mercer County, the City of Trenton, and especially baseball fans, and we look forward to a great season," added Hughes.
Ownership of The Trenton Thunder Team will remain local under Joseph Plumeri and Joseph Caruso.
The MLB Draft will be simulcasted in a closed-circuit telecast live from ARM & HAMMER Park as part of MLB All-Star Week in mid-July. The MLB Draft League's rosters are filled with draft-eligible players who will have a unique opportunity to showcase their abilities and gain exposure to other MLB clubs and crowds of Thunder fans each year.
"We are dedicated to delivering our Power of Fun brand to our fans as the Thunder Entertainment Experience they have enjoyed for the last 27 years, featuring the antics of our beloved mascot Boomer having a blast in the crowd. Fans will continue to enjoy our World Famous Bat Dogs retrieving bats, with Dash making his debut this summer," added Hurley.
The Trenton Thunder, presented by NJM Insurance Group, continues its award-winning Entertainment Experience as the action packed summer place to be and will be joined by the Williamsport Crosscutters, Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes and West Virginia Black Bears, also all MLB-affiliated teams, as hand-selected founding members of the MLB Draft League.
MLB is in advanced negotiations with more teams to be announced in the coming weeks.