Nelson Cruz: “I’ve only ever played outfield and DH.”
Jerry Dipoto: “It’s not that hard, Nelson. Tell him, Wash.”
Ron Washington: “It’s incredibly hard.”
Dipoto: “Wait, don’t you work for the Braves?”
Cruz: “Seriously, how did you get in my living room, Wash?”
Nelson Cruz won the Edgar Martinez Award as the best DH in the game in 2017. Indeed, he’s absolutely mashed over the past three years, hitting 126 homers. The Mariners have seemed pretty darn happy with that. He played only five games in the outfield in 2017 and only 48 games there in 2016. Given that he’ll turn 38 this season, it’s pretty likely that the Mariners will remain fine with that for the duration.
Not that that’s stopping Cruz from broadening his horizons. He just posted an Instagram video of himself taking grounders at first base with the caption, “Versatility is important.”
I’m assuming this is more for fun than anything else given that (a) Cruz has never played even a third of an inning at first base; and (b) the M’s just traded for a Ryon Healy to man the position. But hey, you never know, right?
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.