Frontier League

How Many Independent Baseball Leagues Are There?

How Many Independent Baseball Leagues Are There?

Independent baseball brings the sport to smaller cities while providing non-Major Leaguers a platform to play. What are some of the top independent leagues?

Nov 9, 2023 by Matt Cannizzaro
How Many Independent Baseball Leagues Are There?

The dream of playing baseball at the major-league level doesn’t always come true, or maybe it just takes some extra time and work to get there. 

For those who may have gone undrafted out of college, were released from a Major League Baseball or Minor League Baseball contract, or already have been to The Show and simply aren’t ready to stop playing, there’s independent baseball. 

There are independent baseball teams and leagues all over North America. They feature players of all ages and skill levels. Some have long histories. New ones are popping up all the time.

By definition, a team or league is independent because it is not affiliated with any MLB organization or part of the formal MiLB feeder system used to develop players and get them to the majors. The teams are independently owned and operated. 

The independent teams still are considered professional-level organizations, and the players still have the opportunity to be seen by scouts.

What Are Some Of The Top Independent Baseball Leagues?

There are a handful of independent baseball leagues in action, some for many years, while others come, go or consolidate. 

The list of active independent leagues includes: American Association of Professional Baseball, Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, Empire League, Frontier League, Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Pioneer League, Mavericks Independent Baseball League and the United Shore Professional Baseball League.

Four of the leagues (American Association, Atlantic, Frontier and Pioneer) now are designated partners of Major League Baseball and collaborate with MLB on initiatives and research used to help grow the game of baseball.

From the list of leagues, FloBaseball offers in-depth coverage, livestreaming, highlights, rankings and more from the Atlantic League, Frontier League and Pioneer League.

*FloBaseball also offers extensive coverage of two collegiate summer leagues—the Coastal Plain League and the Florida Collegiate Summer League.

Atlantic League of Professional Baseball

The ALPB was established in 1998 and is known for featuring the best talent outside of the MLB ranks—often former or future MLB players. 

The Atlantic League teams reside in relatively large metropolitan areas, but in cities that don’t have MLB or MiLB teams. The ballparks may be smaller, but the fan experience usually is top-notch.

The league includes 10 teams, located in Kentucky (one), Maryland (two), New York (two), North Carolina (two), Pennsylvania (two) and West Virginia (one). The league is expected to expand to at least 12 teams within the next couple of years.

In 2019, the Atlantic League entered into a partnership with MLB that allowed the organization to test and observe rule changes within ALPB competition for potential implementation at the MLB level.

Frontier League

The Frontier League was founded in 1993 to bring independent professional baseball to West Virginia, Kentucky and Southeast Ohio. Competition began with six teams.

Teams moved. More teams were added. Stadiums were renovated. The geographic reach of the league expanded. The league gained traction and credibility. The caliber of players increased, too. The Frontier League became a stepping stone to MLB. These trends have continued.

The league now includes 16 teams split into two divisions—East and West. 

The growth and current number of teams was a result of the Frontier League’s merger with the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball in 2019, the addition of two more teams in 2021 and a restructuring. 

Teams now reside in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Canada (three). They play nearly 100 games a year, plus playoffs, from May-September. 

In 2020, the Frontier League also entered into a collaborative agreement with Major League Baseball that will help grow and enhance the game of baseball.

Pioneer League

Also a partner league of MLB now, the Pioneer League is more for developing players and restricts rosters to players with no more than three years of professional baseball experience.  

As baseball started to develop its identity and expand its reach in the early 1900s, the sport made its way west, too, though it struggled around the time of the stock market crash in 1929. 

Not long after, the Pioneer League was created, and it enjoyed a long history of affiliation with MLB clubs. After nearly a century, the Pioneer League entered a new era in 2021 and shifted back to the world of independent baseball.

The league now includes 10 teams, divided into a North Division and a South Division. They reside in Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Utah. 

Teams play 96 games split into two halves, with the divisional winners getting to battle in the postseason. 

Other leagues:

American Association of Independent Professional Baseball

The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball has existed in various iterations since being created in 1902 as an independent minor league. It changed, disappeared and reappeared as the structure of the minor-league system and teams, and the relationships with Major League Baseball, changed over time. 

The American Association returned in full force in 2005 with the merger of the Northern League and the Central League, and it has continued to grow in the years since.

The league now includes 12 teams—from Canada to Texas. There’s one in Canada, two in Illinois, one in Indiana, one in Iowa, one in Kansas, one in Nebraska, one in North Dakota, one in South Dakota, two in Wisconsin and one in Texas. 

The American Association schedule runs from mid-May until a champion is crowned in late September. 

Empire Professional Baseball League

The Empire League was established in 2015 and created to allow players to develop and showcase their skills. The first season of play was in 2016.

The league also provides a two-way service—it helps recruit and collect talent that scouts can see and evaluate, and it gives players the best opportunity to learn and do all they can to be seen and succeed at the next levels of the game.

The Empire League experience is broken into four parts: A fall instructional camp, spring pro games training camp, all-independent leagues showcase camp and a summer Empire League season. Players enrolled in the showcase/tryout program are eligible to play in the Empire League.

While much of the organization’s activity takes place in Florida, the Empire League games are played in the Northeast. The league features five teams hailing from New York, with one being a traveling team comprised mostly of Japanese players.

The Empire League’s season includes a regular season during June and July, followed by a postseason to determine a league champion. 

Players from the Empire League can go on to professional organizations, higher-level independent leagues or international leagues. 

Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs

The Pecos League is newer to the professional baseball landscape, having gotten its start in 2011. 

The league now includes 15 teams hailing from Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas divided into two divisions—Pacific and Mountain—with the formal season running from May through August. A spring league takes place in March. 

Because of the altitude of many of the cities, plus smaller stadiums, the Pecos League is known for its offensive explosiveness. 

Mavericks Independent Baseball League

The Mavericks League, for MLB hopefuls and other top talent, got its start in 2021, when another shift in the structure of Minor League Baseball left the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes without any affiliation. 

From the uncertainty rose the Mavericks League, which includes four teams with deep history and tradition and revived from teams that existed in the area decades ago. Along with the Volcanoes are the Portland Mavericks, Salem Senators and Campesinos de Salem-Keizer.

Uniquely, the entire league schedule, for 16 consecutive weeks from May through August, is contested at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, Oregon. The games are played from Thursday-Sunday of each week, and the season is followed by a championship series. 

United Shore Professional Baseball League

Another new-ish league in the independent baseball landscape, the United Shore Professional Baseball League launched in 2016 and has added another layer of professional baseball to the Detroit area.

The league includes top undrafted or unsigned talent from the collegiate ranks and uses state-of-the-art coaching and cutting-edge training, programs and technology to prepare players to advance in their careers. 

The league includes four teams—Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers, Eastside Diamond Hoppers, Utica Unicorns and Westside Woolly Mammoths. 

Because the USPBL is based in Michigan, the organization must consider weather in developing the league schedule. Games are played from late May until early September, primarily on Thursday-Sunday—that’s prime times during the best-weather months. 

The season includes a 42-game schedule, plus an all-star game and a championship matchup. All games right now are played at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, Michigan. 

According to the USPBL website, the development of ballparks is in the works, and each park will feature two home teams, allowing the league to have home games every week. 

Watch Independent Baseball On FloBaseball 

Follow the action from around the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, Frontier League and the Pioneer Baseball League, whether you’re on, the FloSports apps or FloBaseball’s social media channels for select games.

Each week during the season, we'll feature at least one “Game Of The Week” from each league and stream it directly to social media. Tune in to catch the action LIVE on FloBaseball's Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

During the offseason, you can revisit all of your favorite moments from the season, as video footage from each league is archived and stored in a video library for FloBaseball subscribers to watch during the duration of their subscriptions. 

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