The Yankees are going to hit home runs like their life depends on it. The Red Sox are loaded but feel like underdogs. The Jays are facing a big transition year with Josh Donaldson possibly walking away in November and some second generation baseball legacy prospects knocking on the door. The Rays are once again trying to hold things together with spit and bailing wire, but at least they’re used to it. Everyone knows that you can’t win without pitching. What the Orioles 2018 roster presupposes is: what if you can?
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.