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Adam Wainwright to start Cardinals’ home opener

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The Cardinals optioned pitcher Jack Flaherty to Triple-A Memphis, opening up a spot on the 25-man roster for Adam Wainwright. Wainwright will start Thursday’s home opener in St. Louis against the Diamondbacks.

Wainwright, 36, started the season on the disabled list due to a strained hamstring. The veteran is looking to rebound from a rough 2017 in which he posted a 5.11 ERA with a 96/45 K/BB ratio in 123 1/3 innings.

Flaherty, 22, likely won’t stay in the minors very long. He impressed in his first start, holding the Brewers to a run on six hits and a walk with nine strikeouts over five innings. MLB Pipeline ranks Flaherty as the second-best prospect in the Cardinals’ system.

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.