So, the Astros are taking their prospects on trips now

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According to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggert, the Astros recently brought eight players and six staff members down to the Dominican Republic for a 10-day getaway:

The group spent the 10 days touring the country, with the players working out at the Astros’ Dominican Academy in the mornings, then interacting with the various communities and villages they visited in the afternoons. It was a learning experience, not only for the players from the States, but the Dominican-based players as well.

“There were a lot of things to it,” assistant director of player development Allen Rowin said. “We were trying to get the U.S. players to understand where their Latin brethren are coming from, to see firsthand where the guys come from in the Dominican, to see the complex and understand what they’re doing, and also for them to kind of have a feel for what the Latin guys go through when they come to the States.

The players on the trip were all draft picks from the last three years, including 2012 first overall pick Carlos Correa and a 2013 pick in Brett Booth.

All in all, it seems like a very good experience for the kids and maybe something more teams should do. It also, however, sounds like an extra benefit that prospects should not be entitled to given the strict draft cap rules now employed by Major League Baseball. Now, I highly doubt the Astros were using a trip to the Dominican Republic as a carrot to get Booth to sign with them a few months back. I’m assuming the Astros cleared the trip with MLB as well.

But this is one of the problems with salary caps in general: anything outside the norm that teams do for players needs to be monitored closely to make sure there are no unfair advantages. Just as NBA teams next summer won’t be able to promise LeBron James luxury boxes and such perks, MLB teams have to be limited in what they can do for prospects, given the rules in place.

Autopsy report reveals morphine, Ambien in Roy Halladay’s system

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Traces of morphine, amphetamine, Prozac and Ambien were found in Roy Halladay’s system at the time of his death, according to the autopsy findings Zachary T. Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday. The former Phillies and Blue Jays ace and two-time Cy Young Award winner was killed in a plane crash off the Gulf of Mexico last November. While the exact cause of the incident has not yet been determined, it was a combination of blunt force trauma and drowning that resulted in the 40-year-old’s death.

Further details from the NY Daily News revealed that Halladay sustained a fractured leg and a “subdural hemorrhage, multiple rib fractures, and lung, liver and spleen injuries” during the crash. As for the drugs present in his system, the autopsy report suggests that the presence of morphine could be linked to heroin use, though there’s no clear evidence that he did so.

The toxicology results also determined that Halladay had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.01. A BAC of 0.08 is the legal limit for operating a car, but current FAA regulations prohibit any alcohol consumption for eight hours before operating aircraft. Halladay was both the pilot and sole passenger aboard the plane when it crashed.

Previous statements from the National Transportation Safety Board indicate that the investigation is still ongoing and could take up to two years to resolve.