The Giants activated first baseman Brandon Belt from the 10-day disabled list, per a team announcement on Saturday. Belt was sidelined for just over two weeks after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on June 1. It’s still uncertain how much Belt will be able to take on right away; during his rehab, the infielder was limited to just five at-bats in an extended spring training game.
Prior to landing on the DL, Belt posted career numbers in the first two months of the 2018 season, slashing a robust .307/.403/.547 with 11 home runs, a .950 OPS and 2.5 fWAR in 226 plate appearances. Those are the kind of numbers that could give the Giants — currently a 34-36 team and fourth in the NL West — a much-needed boost as the first half of the season wraps up next month.
With Belt back on the roster, the Giants optioned rookie right-hander Pierce Johnson to Triple-A Sacramento. Johnson failed to impress during his brief tryout with the club this year after racking up a 5.46 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 5.7 SO/9 over 31 1/3 innings.
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.