With all the restructuring going on in Minor League Baseball ahead of the 2021 season, the Northwest League will be going from Single-A Short Season to Single-A Advanced. This change will see the Northwest League go from a 76 game season to 132 games.
A few teams in the Northwest League will be changing affiliations as the league looks to become more affiliated with west coast MLB franchises. The Tri-City Dust Devils will switch affiliations from the Colorado Rockies to Los Angeles Angels. Meanwhile, the Rockies will pick up the Spokane Indians who were previously affiliated with the Texas Rangers. The Eugene Emeralds meanwhile will switch from the Chicago Cubs to the San Francisco Giants.
However, the Northwest League will be saying goodbye to the Boise Hawks and Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The Boise Hawks have announced their intentions to join the new Independent MLB Partner Pioneer League. As for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, they’d be a perfect fit for the summer collegiate West Coast League (WCL).
Potential Scheduling Issues
With the move from 76 games to 132 games, there comes potential scheduling issues with ballpark availability and weather. Cities like Vancouver, Everett and Hillsboro get a significant amount of rain in the spring months. Ballparks in the Northwest League aren’t covered so they’ll have to figure out a plan assuming there are rainouts. Typically games rained out are made up the next day as part of a doubleheader.
However, there are other events held at Northwest League ballparks. This includes soccer and high school and community college baseball teams who play games during the spring. The Northwest League and certain markets have handled venue conflicts in the past so this shouldn’t be an issue.
The Eugene Emeralds however, face a slightly bigger challenge in sharing PK Park with the Oregon Ducks baseball team. Usually the Emeralds organization has a short amount of time to flip everything over for their season. But now they’ll be sharing the ballpark at the same time for the first part of the Emeralds season. However, other MiLB teams share ballparks with universities so it’s certainly possible for it to work.