For Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, the 2011 regular season has already been a roller coaster ride.
Dice-K allowed six hits, three walks and three earned runs over five innings in his first start of the year against the Indians. He lasted only two frames next time out against the Rays, surrendering seven earned runs in a messy 16-5 loss.
There was talk after those first two starts that the Red Sox might replace Matsuzaka in their starting rotation temporarily — or permanently.
Oh, how times have changed.
The 30-year-old Tokyo native shut out the Angels over eight impressive innings on Saturday night in Anaheim and has given up just two hits, zero runs and four walks in his last 15 innings of work.
To say that Matsuzaka has figured it all out would be a bit of an overreaction, but he’s clearly doing something right. And with that batting lineup, all Boston really needs is for him to eat some innings this year.
This morning Major League Baseball announced a new elite league for high school baseball players who are likely to be drafted. It’s called the Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’ll start next summer and it’ll invite 80 of the best current high school juniors to play in a league in Florida from June through early July, culminating in an All-Star Game during MLB’s All-Star week.
The idea behind the league: to combat the current system in which a couple of pay-to-play, for-profit showcase leagues dominate the pre-draft season. Major League Baseball, schools and a lot of players’ parents have criticized this system because it favors rich kids who can afford to play in them. Major League Baseball is also likely quite keen on having greater control over the training, health and physical monitoring of prospects.
As Jeff Passan notes in his report about this, there will be a component of the program which involves live data-tracking of players during games and drills. Major League Baseball has become increasingly interested in such things but is limited in how much it can do in this regard due to labor agreements. There is no such impediment with high schoolers. Your mileage will vary when it comes to how you feel about that, I presume.