The career path of a Phillies player will no longer wind through Williamsport, as the Phillies have cut ties with their minor-league affiliate in Lycoming County.
The Williamsport Crosscutters, the Phillies’ affiliate in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League since 2007, will instead play this summer in the newly formed MLB Draft League.
The league — which also includes the Trenton Thunder and State College Spikes — will feature draft-eligible college juniors and seniors in a 68-game season from late May to mid-August. The MLB draft will be held next summer in July instead of June.
In November, Major League Baseball took over the operations of Minor League Baseball with plans to trim affiliates from 160 teams to 120. The 30 major-league teams will be limited to four full-season affiliates. In place of short-season affiliates, major-league teams will be able to have minor leaguers play games at their complexes in Arizona and Florida.
The Phillies’ four full-season affiliates will be the Clearwater Threshers, Jersey Shore (formerly Lakewood) BlueClaws, Reading Fightin Phils, and Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The Threshers and Fightin Phils are owned by the Phillies, while the other two affiliates are independently owned. The Threshers could move in 2021 to low-A while the BlueClaws become a high-A team.
Williamsport’s player-development contract with the Phillies expired after last season, which was not played because of the coronavirus pandemic. Peter Freund, who owns the Crosscutters, was hired by Major League Baseball in October to assist with the transition of taking over the minor-league operations from the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.
The Crosscutters have sent 64 Phillies prospects to the major leagues and play at 94-year-old Bowman Field, which recently underwent a $3 million renovation project and hosts a major-league game each summer during the Little League World Series.