Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes would prefer to play left field

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In re-signing Yoenis Cespedes to a three-year, $75 million contract the Mets sacrificed some defense by committing to use him as their starting center field, but it turns out Cespedes sacrificed something too: He’d rather be playing left field.

Cespedes has made it clear that he’s got zero problem playing center field, but also told Marly Rivera of ESPN.com:

If I had the choice, I would stay in left field. But I will play where the team needs me. If they want me to play center field, I’ll play center field, and I’ll do the best I can. When I came here [to MLB] in 2012, I started playing center field. But that same year I moved to left field. That was a little difficult, but I got used to it already. Now I feel much more comfortable in left field. But my mind, and I’ve always said, if you are a good outfielder, you can play most positions.

New York has Curtis Granderson in right field and Michael Conforto in left field, so Cespedes playing center field most days is a huge part of their roster construction. And having his bat in the lineup at a premium position is a huge part of what makes him such an impact player, even if he’s giving back some runs on defense.

For his career Cespedes has started 382 games in left field, 104 games in center field, and 77 games at designated hitter. This season, assuming the Mets stick with their current plan, Cespedes’ breakdown figures to be about three-fourths center field and one-fourth left field.

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.