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Angels’ rookie-level Orem affiliate is no more

Owlz part of Pioneer League shift to MLB “partner league”

Orange County Register Archive Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The Angels’ rookie-level team in Orem, Utah is no longer an affiliate, part of a shift in the restructuring of minor league baseball. The eight-team Pioneer League is now an independent “partner league” of MLB rather than a part of the affiliated minors.

The Orem Owlz began as an Angels affiliate in 2001, but that 20-year run ended Monday with Major League Baseball’s announcement of the Pioneer League, who will join the formerly independent Atlantic League, American Association, and Frontier League as “partner leagues” of MLB.

From Major League Baseball’s press release:

As a Partner League, the Pioneer League will collaborate with MLB to provide organized baseball to communities throughout the Western U.S. and Canada. MLB will provide initial funding for the league’s operating expenses, as well as install scouting technology in Pioneer League ballparks to provide MLB Clubs with first-class scouting information on Pioneer League players. The agreement will also include a procedure for player transfers to MLB Clubs. The Leagues also will explore joint marketing, ticketing and fan engagement opportunities.

The Owlz are moving out of Orem, where they were last in the Pioneer League in attendance in 2019, the last season of affiliated baseball for the league. The Owlz averaged 1,231 fans per game that year, compared to 2,504 for the entire eight-team league.

The Owlz will instead play their games going forward in Windsor, Colorado as the Northern Colorado Owlz. Beginning in 2022, they will play their games at the new Future Legends Complex, which was developed and co-founded by the Katofsky family, owners of the Owlz.

This is part of an overhaul of the affiliated minors, trimmed from roughly 160 to 120 teams as major league teams will now have four domestic affiliates instead of five — Triple-A, Double-A, and two Class-A teams, plus rookie-league teams at their respective complexes at spring training sites and in the Dominican Republic. Those official details are expected to be finalized this week.