SPORTS

Orem Owlz, Ogden Raptors Go Independent, Owlz Leave Utah

Nov 30, 2020, 2:31 PM | Updated: 3:46 pm
Ogden Raptors - Orem Owlz...
Orem's Stantrel Smith (23) is run down bewteen first and second by Raptor's Juan Rivera (12) as pitcher Brent Leach (44) waits at first as the Orem Owlz face the Ogden Raptors in Pioneer League playoff action in Orem Friday, September 9, 2005. (Photo by Jason Olson / Deseret News)
(Photo by Jason Olson / Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Minor League Baseball’s  Pioneer League has been designated a “Partner League” of Major League Baseball – meaning the Orem Owlz and the Ogden Raptors will now be considered independent.

The change was announced Monday and will move the Orem Owlz out of Utah. According to KSL Sports’ Sam Farnsworth, the Owlz will head to Windsor, Colorado – outside of Denver.

The move will transform the Rookie Advanced loop into an independent league and is a part of several changes to the Minor League landscape after the expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement earlier this fall.

The eight Pioneer League teams, including the Billings Mustangs, Grand Junction Rockies, Great Falls Voyagers, Idaho Falls Chukars, Missoula PaddleHeads, Ogden Raptors, Northern Colorado Owlz and Rocky Mountain Vibes will transfer to the new format while maintaining their current branding.

The Owlz have played in Orem since 2005. The season will feature a 92-game regular season, beginning in late May and ending in early September.

As part of Monday’s announcement, MLB said that it will initially fund the Pioneer League’s operating expenses, provide scouting technology to all eight ballparks and create a procedure for player transfers to MLB organizations.

“Over the past year, we have worked closely with Pioneer League owners and elected officials to ensure the continued success of baseball in the Mountain West,” said MLB executive vice president of baseball economics and operations Morgan Sword in a released statement. “We’re excited to support this new initiative and look forward to Pioneer League baseball returning in 2021.”

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Orem Owlz, Ogden Raptors Go Independent, Owlz Leave Utah