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Pirates acquire Josh Smoker from the Mets

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The Mets announced on Wednesday that the club coughed up lefty reliever Josh Smoker in exchange for Pirates minor league pitcher Daniel Zamora. Smoker had been designated for assignment by the Mets on Friday.

Smoker was stubbed out of the 40-man roster to make room for Jose Reyes, who was also signed on Friday. The trade marks a cessation of a three-year stint with the Mets. In 71 2/3 innings in the majors, Smoker owns a 5.02 ERA with a 93/36 K/BB ratio. He has a habit of missing the strike zone, but there’s no patch for that. Pitching coach Ray Searage will try to get him to quit, otherwise his reputation as a miracle worker will be tarred and he will become the butt of jokes.

Smoker throws hard, is left-handed, and is relatively cheap, which are all pluses for the Pirates. He’ll have ample opportunity to work his way up the depth chart.

Zamora, 24, was selected by the Pirates in the 40th round of the 2015 draft. Last year with High-A Bradenton, Zamora pitched 53 1/3 innings of relief with a 1.86 ERA and a 61/17 K/BB ratio.

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.