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Shohei Ohtani’s first start will be Sunday

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The Angels selected the contract of pitcher/DH Shohei Ohtani and added him to the 40-man and 25-man roster. To create a 40-man spot, they designated catcher Carlos Perez for assignment.

That may not be super shocking news, but Ohtani has struggled mightily this spring, neither hitting nor pitching well, and at least some people have suggested giving him some time in the minors. That always seemed extraordinarily unlikely given the attention that has been focused on the two-way star, both in terms of media coverage and, likely, in ticket sales and marketing. He was always going to be given the opportunity to fail at the big league level before seeing time at Salt Lake City. It’s certainly the call most of us would make if we ran the club.

Ohtani is scheduled to make his major league pitching debut Sunday when he starts for the Los Angeles Angels in their fourth game of the season at Oakland. He is likewise expected to be the team’s designated hitter in at least one of the first three games, but it’s unclear if that will happen in the opener tomorrow.

 

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.