Baseball is back in Palm Springs as the Power baseball organization enters its 14th year of the California Winter League. For those who don’t know, the CWL is a month-long baseball-filled event that not only offers area fans daily action on the diamond, but also allows free agent baseball players to showcase their talents.
“The California Winter League is an exhibition platform for free agent baseball players to have the opportunity to show what they’ve got,” said Andrew Starke, who has been owner and president of the Palm Springs Power for the past 20 years. “They get to show their skills not over four or five hours, but over four weeks. Not every player can show their true ability in a one-day tryout. This gives all these players an opportunity to show what they can do to professional managers , coaches and scouts.”
More than 200 players from around the world are coming to Palm Springs to compete this winter. Each team will play up to 20 games from the season beginning on Thursday, January 26th until it ends on February 19th. All stadium matches will be free to stream on YouTube.
This league is very important to the players involved. One such player is Clay Wisner, who played five seasons of collegiate baseball before recently playing for the Grand Junction Rockies of the Pioneer League, an MLB affiliate league.
“Getting more at bats, getting more live rep, that’s a big deal,” said Wisner, a third baseman and pitcher in college. “Just getting more reps, more reps and being around guys that want the same thing that I want. It’s going to be a competitive environment and I’m ready for it.
On average, 40% of California Winter League players receive a professional contract during or after the season. The CWL saw three alumni make their Major League debuts in 2022: Logan Gillespie with the Baltimore Orioles, Bubby Rossman with the Philadelphia Phillies and Luke Barker with the Milwaukee Brewers.
In addition to the opportunity to showcase their talents, they also get the opportunity to escape the harsh winter elsewhere in the United States and enjoy the beauty of the desert.
“Being able to get out of the Northeast is another big deal to be quite honest. I mean, it’s really cold over there right now,” Wisner joked. “I left 22 degrees and snow and now I’m out here. It’s a lot warmer than it was there.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult to host the CWL for the past few years. In 2021, a training camp was held instead of the league season due to the restrictions, and while the CWL returned last year, the number of players and coaches at the event was smaller than usual. Now with many of the restrictions lifted, this will be the biggest the league has been since 2018.
“Not dealing with the constraints that the pandemic imposed is a big reason why,” Starke said. “Having more teams, more players and more coaches makes it a lot more fun for everyone involved and all the fans that come out. It gives them more teams to pick and root for.”
This year’s daily schedule is packed with promotions to enhance the fan experience. Every Monday is Locals Day, when anyone with a Coachella Valley ID gets a $5 general admission ticket. There’s Two-for-Tuesday, which includes a 2-for-1 general admission ticket deal for fans. Every Wednesday is Wine Wednesday, with $4 wines on tap. Thursdays are Out-of-Towners Day, when anyone who comes to the ballpark with an out-of-state ID gets a $5 ticket. The weekdays are rounded off with Canada Day on Friday, which means a $5 ticket for anyone with a Canadian ID.
This weekend, fans can enjoy Suds Saturday at Palm Springs Stadium and grab a $2 beer. Sunday is Family Day, brought to you by Jack in the Box, where all children under 12 are free. Tickets for all others are $5.
Opening day is Thursday for the 10-team league, with games primarily held at Palm Springs Stadium. Opening Day features every team, including two games at Palm Springs Stadium. British Columbia Bombers and Washington Blue Sox meet at 10 a.m. followed by Manitoba North Stars and Palm Springs Chill at 12.30 p.m
California Winter League
What: More than 200 players from around the world will comprise 10 teams and play a 20-game schedule.
When: Matches are played at 9.00, 10.00, 11.30 and 12.30 daily from 26 January to 19 February.
Where: Games at Palm Springs Stadium and Palm Springs Auxiliary Field (1901 E. Baristo Rd.)
Cost: General admission to games is $10, and parking at both the pavilion and library is free. All game times and daily promotions can be found at californiawinterleague.com or on social media.
2023 CWL Important dates
January 24: MLB practice days
January 26: Opening game
February 19: Championship