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Carlos Beltran won’t visit White House with Houston Astros

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Just after the World Series, the Houston Astros announced that, yes, they will visit the White House if invited to honor their World Series championship. As expected, however, at least one member of the club will not go: Carlos Beltran.

Beltran said that it was a matter of wanting to spend time with his family and wasn’t about President Trump or politics specifically, but folks can be forgiven if they don’t buy that entirely given that Beltran has been vocally critical of the administration’s hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Here was Beltran yesterday, talking about that disappointment:

“There’s no doubt that I’m disappointed. I’m not the only one. There’s a lot of people disappointed. We haven’t (gotten) some benefits. Being part of the United States, you expect to at least get the same benefits when tragedies like this happen. The fact that we haven’t (gotten) those, yeah, it’s a disappointment.”

Beltran may not be the only Astros player not to make the trip to the White House. Just after the World Series third baseman Alex Bregman said he’d follow whatever two of his teammates decide, saying “I’m going to do whatever Carlos Beltranand Carlos Correa do.” Correa is not yet on the record, but it would not be at all surprising if he, a Puerto Rican native like Beltran, did not follow Beltran’s lead for similar reasons. Bregman, for his part, has been sharply critical of Trump in the past on other matters.

Earlier this week, multiple members of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, including Chris Long, Malcom Jenkins Torrey Smith said they’d skip their team’s White House visit as well. Long, along with two dozen other players, also skipped the visit last year when he was a member of the Patriots.

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.