MLB creates a task force to study the decline of U.S.-born blacks in baseball

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Even if we are taking the annual Lapchick study with a grain of salt due to its failure to use common denominators, Major League Baseball takes the underlying issue of the decline of U.S.-born blacks in baseball seriously enough that it’s doing something about it:

Major League Baseball has created a task force to study why the number of African-Americans playing the sport has declined in recent years, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The 17-member committee, which will be chaired by Tigers president/GM Dave Dombrowski, will hold its first meeting in Milwaukee on Wednesday. He’ll be joined by several other baseball executives, plus Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir; Frank Marcos, senior director of baseball’s scouting bureau; and former White Sox and Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

I wish baseball hadn’t made a mockery of task forces and studies with that whole Oakland thing, because I would like to think that this would lead to some actual useful and actionable information. Here’s hoping it does, because it would tickle me pink if baseball could figure out how to get more kids to put down the footballs and basketballs and pick up a bat and a glove.

The answer, at least in part, is probably money and engagement by people and organizations with money. Because we have to face facts that baseball is not a cheap sport to play on the amateur level, what with its single-use fields, travel and equipment requirements.  I know there are urban initiatives afoot by the league, but in addition to that I’d like to see something less charitable/community-involvement-oriented and something of something that is more ruthlessly talent-development-orients. A system in which teams try to identify and support young baseball talent in the U.S. with an idea toward making them major league ballplayers. The draft disincentivizes this, sadly, but perhaps there’s a workaround or league-wide solution.

Nick Senzel to miss a few weeks due to ankle injury

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Reds prospect Nick Senzel will miss at least the next few weeks due to a sprained right ankle, Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Senzel suffered the injury in a minor league game on Monday, sliding into second base.

Last week, the Reds reassigned Senzel to minor league camp. His agent, Joel Wolfe, called it an “egregious case of service time manipulation.” The matter has been cleanly resolved with the injury, not unlike Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.

Senzel, 23, is the Reds’ No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He was getting work in center field this spring after playing second and third base last year (and even a game at shortstop) in the minors. With Triple-A Louisville, Senzel hit .310/.378/.509 with six home runs and 25 RBI in 193 plate appearances.