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Shohei Ohtani blasts a home run in his third straight game

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We can hold off on the GOAT labels for the time being, but there’s no denying that Shohei Ohtani has made quite the impression this spring. The Angels’ DH/starting pitcher enjoyed a hit in his first-ever MLB at-bat on Opening Day, followed by a quality start against the Athletics and home runs off of Josh Tomlin and Corey Kluber. On Friday night, he added to his list of accomplishments with another blast, this one off of A’s right-hander Daniel Gossett.

The Angels were down 6-0 in the second inning when Ohtani located a 2-0 fastball from Gossett, driving it over the center field wall to put the Angels on the board. It’s the first home run Gossett has given up this season.

In case you were wondering, the last rookie to hit at least three home runs in his first four career games was Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini, who clubbed three home runs against the Red Sox and Diamondbacks in the fall of 2016 (though he wasn’t talked about nearly as much as Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, who racked up six homers in his first four games earlier that year).

Ohtani’s heroic home run wasn’t the be-all and end-all of the Angels’ offense, however. They rallied again in the fourth inning on Andrelton Simmons‘ ground-rule double and couple of RBI base hits from Luis Valbuena and Martin Maldonado and currently trail the Athletics 6-5 in the fifth.

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.