Getting To Know The Prospect League
The Prospect League has had a busy off season. The league has added three new teams and changed the ownership group for one of their existing teams. If you follow summer college league baseball at all, it’s been hard not to notice how much the league has grown after just their first season.
The Prospect League came into existence when the teams from the old Central Illinois Collegiate League (CICL) merged with some former teams from the independent Frontier League. The merger was meant not only to increase the size of the CICL, but to also build a first-class league on par with some of the established leagues like the Northwoods and Coastal Plain Leagues. The idea was to not only get bigger, but also better.
The league’s roots go back to 1963 with the formation of the CICL. The CICL was one of the charter members of the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball (NACSB), an organization dedicated to assisting member leagues to adhere to NCAA rules and regulations, as well as foster communication between NACSB members. In addition to the Prospect League, the NACSB counts the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, Cape Cod Baseball League, Florida Collegiate Summer League, Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, New York Collegiate Baseball League, Southern Collegiate Baseball League, and the Valley Baseball League among its members.
Following the 2008 season, the five member teams of the CICL decided to add former Frontier League teams in Richmond, IN, Chillicothe, OH, and Slippery Rock, PA. The league also added expansion teams in Hannibal, MO, Lorain, OH, and Butler, PA. Since the old moniker of “Central Illinois” no longer fit, the league was re-branded as the Prospect League.
By just about any measure, the inaugural season of the Prospect League was a success. The league completed a 53-game regular season and crowned the Quincy Gems as the first Prospect League champions. The league also experienced significantly more popularity and interest than the CICL had in recent years.
Following the 2009 season, the Prospect League once again announced that it had expanded, adding franchises in Sycamore, IL, Terre Haute, IN, and Beckley, WV. The league now spreads across six states and boasts 14 teams, up from just five teams two years ago.
Prospect League President Bryan Wickline (owner of the Chillicothe Paints) has been surprised at the interest the league has garnered following their inaugural season. He’s also quick to point out that the league’s sudden growth is by no means uncontrolled.
“We aren’t expanding just for the sake of expanding. We will look at the markets that make sense in our Midwest footprint. There are three things we look for as a league for expansion: 1) market, 2) facility, and 3) strong ownership.”
So, is the Prospect League done growing for a while? There have been rumors that the league may add even more franchises. “We will just grow as the industry grows and continue to strive to be the premier summer college league in the country,” Wickline said.
Current Prospect League Teams
North Coast Knights
Slippery Rock Sliders
Terre Haute Rex
West Virginia Miners
DeKalb County Liners
Dubois County Bombers
UPDATE: On 1/21/10 the Prospect League announced that they had awarded an expansion franchise to a group in Nashville, TN. Click here for the story of the Outlaws announcement.
UPDATE #2: With the addition of the Nashville Outlaws, the Prospect League is now up to 15 teams. Because of this, they have decided to break the league up into three divisions. For information on how the divisions will be aligned, please visit Prospect League To Go With Three Divisions.
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