U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) on Monday applauded an announcement by the West Virginia Black Bears that they are one of the five teams selected by Major League Baseball (MLB) to be a founding member of the new MLB Draft League.

“The Black Bears being able to keep playing baseball is great news for all of West Virginia,” the senator said. “When it was announced that the Black Bears were rumored to be on the list to be eliminated as an MLB affiliate, I worked constantly to make sure we had a suitable way to be able to keep playing baseball and this opportunity allows them to do so.” 

The new league will be sanctioned by MLB and operated by Prep Baseball Report, one of the nation’s largest amateur scouting services. Each season, the Morgantown, W.Va.-based Black Bears’ roster will consist of draft-eligible collegiate players projected to be premium selections in that year’s MLB Draft, according to the MLB announcement.

“It goes without saying that Morgantown offers so many assets, from the facilities, existing partnerships with the community, and wonderful fans who enjoy watching baseball on West Virginia summer nights,” said Sen. Capito.

Four Minor League Baseball-affiliated teams are based in West Virginia. Sen. Capito announced earlier this year that two of them would join the MLB and Baseball USA-supported Prospect Development Pipeline, allowing baseball to continue in Bluefield and Princeton, W.Va., according to her office, which noted that a similar league or partnership also would enable baseball to continue to be played in Charleston, W.Va.

The new draft circuit affirms MLB’s commitment to the region and assures that communities in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey will host baseball and future Major Leaguers for the long term, according to the league’s announcement.