Like its cousin the Pioneer League
, the "Appy League" is a long-surviving Rookie Advanced
-class baseball minor league
. The Appy League covers a fairly small geographic area in the Appalachian Mountains
; this saves the team
costs that otherwise would raise ticket prices in the fairly small communities
where they play.
If a player is viewed by his parent major league club as fundamentally sound and more advanced than his draft-mates, he may be sent to this league rather than the Gulf Coast League or Arizona Rookie League to start his pro career; otherwise, players may be promoted upon success in one of those leagues, or may start their second pro season here.
Teams and divisions:
The Appy League was briefly the focus of national attention in the summer of 2001, as St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel joined the Johnson City Cardinals. Ankiel was sent down because St. Louis believed a good showing in the minors might help him shake personal problems that first made him lose his control in the 2000 playoffs, and that continued throughout the beginning of the 2001 season. Ankiel spent the entire season with Johnson City, leading the league in ERA, innings pitched and strikeouts, and hitting 10 home runs as a designated hitter on off nights when he wasn't pitching.