Atlantic League adds 8th franchise in West Virginia; Revolution to play in new division

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
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  • The West Virginia Power was announced as the newest Atlantic League team.
  • The addition brings the league back to eight teams.
  • The league has realigned the teams into two north and south divisions.

When the 2021 campaign begins, the Atlantic League will look very different from the last time the players stepped on the field.

For the second straight week, the league announced a new franchise. The West Virginia Power is the newest team, which brings the league's total to eight. The team is located in Charleston.

Last week, the Atlantic League named the Lexington (Kentucky) Legends as a new member after that organization recently lost its Major League Baseball affiliation, as did the Power.

West Virginia served as the Seattle Mariners' Class A club for the 2019 season after nearly a decade as an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Power to the Atlantic League and to play a part in the baseball heritage of a community that has passionately supported baseball,” Atlantic League President Rick White said in a news relese. “We are privileged to play in West Virginia’s capital city and congratulate the Power organization and all their fans. We look forward to the competitive play the Power will bring to the Atlantic League.”

Rick White

New alignment: With the league's team total at eight, the divisional alignment was changed for the upcoming season. The York Revolution will play in the new North Division with the Lancaster Barnstormers, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and Long Island Ducks.

The South Division features the Power and the Legends, along with the two North Carolina-based clubs — the High Point Rockers and Gastonia Honey Hunters. Gastonia enters its first season in the league after the 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are happy to have quickly restored our eight-team format and to have done so by attracting such successful organizations,” White said.

Earlier this month, the Atlantic League announced its season will start on May 27. The Atlantic League is a partner league to MLB. 

The Power and the Legends replace two franhises (the Sugar Land Skeeters and Somerset Patriots) that recently left the Atlantic League to become affiliated minor-league teams.

MLB recently announced a major reorganization and contraction of its affiliated minor-league franchises. That move left a number of minor-league cities looking for new leagues for their teams.

Championship schedule: The league also announced its 2021 schedule.

Gastonia will be spotlighted in the first game of the 2021 season when the Honey Hunters open their series against the visiting Lancaster Barnstormers on Thursday, May 27, in the North Carolina community’s new FUSE ballpark.

The remainder of the league’s clubs will be in action Friday, May 28, with Lexington visiting the Long Island Ducks, the High Point Rockers traveling to the York Revolution, and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs going to West Virginia, where the Power will host their first Atlantic League game.

The 2021 season will feature a 120-game regular season schedule, with each team hosting 60 matchups. The league’s traditional 140-game season was trimmed because of concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.