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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Fall League Could Land in Lancaster

Baseball: Four-team circuit featuring top minor league prospects appears headed to California League sites.

May 19, 1999|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LANCASTER — There is a good chance professional baseball at the Hangar will continue beyond the JetHawks' season into the fall months that normally bring mild weather to the Antelope Valley.

The Class-A California League is close to announcing a four-team professional fall league of top minor league prospects will play this year at Lancaster, Lake Elsinore, Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino.

Southern California will be the third location in three years for the league, which was an administrative success for Major League Baseball but a financial failure last year in Maryland. Until 1998 the league was located in Hawaii.

Major League Baseball balked at the Maryland League's request for a stipend of $1,500 a player to help cover operating losses and decided to relocate in California.

"It's not a big money-maker, we hope it will be a break-even thing," said Matt Ellis, JetHawks' general manager. "It's good for the area and it's more value for fans. I think we offer a few things the Maryland League didn't have. Good weather, for starters."

The most advanced fall league is in Arizona and attracts players who are a year or two from breaking into the major leagues. The new league, presumably named the California Fall League, would be stocked with top Class-A and double-A prospects from every major league organization.

The team that will play at the Hangar will be run by Ellis and his staff but named something other than the JetHawks.

The league would play about a 40-game season from early October until mid-November.

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