Hunter Pence slugs long solo homer to get Giants on board in Game 4

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Hunter Pence’s struggles caused him to be dropped to sixth in the order in Game 4 tonight, but he has responded in a big way.

Pence launched a long solo home run to left field off Adam Wainwright in the top of the second inning to get the Giants on the board. According to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, it traveled an estimated 451 feet.

Pence entered tonight’s action hitting just .161 (5-for-31) with no extra-base hits or RBI this postseason.

Pete Kozma reached on a fielding error to lead off the bottom of the second against Tim Lincecum, but he was quickly erased on a stolen base attempt. Not exactly the best idea to give away outs to the guy who is struggling. Lincecum walked two in the inning, including opposing pitcher Adam Wainwright, but he managed to escape and keep the score at 2-1. Still, he’s already at 44 pitches, so it’s unlikely he’ll last long in this one.

The Giants had a chance to tie it up in the top of the third inning when Angel Pagan reached on a two-out triple, but Wainwright got Marco Scutaro on a comebacker to end the threat. The Cardinals lead this one 2-1 as we move to the bottom of the third inning.

Major League Baseball to launch an elite league for high schoolers

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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.