Reds center fielder (and speed demon) Billy Hamilton showed off his superb defense on Sunday, sprinting along the warning track to make an inning-ending catch in the first frame of the club’s series finale against the Pirates. Even given Hamilton’s lengthy highlight reel of spectacular outfield catches, this was a rare moment: According to Statcast, there was a 2% probability of making the catch, which helped the 27-year-old outfielder tie the record for the lowest-probability catch of 2018.
If it looked like a terrific distance to run, it was: Hamilton covered 83 feet in just 4.3 seconds. (Per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, that’s good enough for a 30.6 feet-per-second pace.)
Despite Hamilton’s first-inning heroics, it didn’t take long for the Pirates to get on the board. Colin Moran led off the second inning with a home run that finally evaded the center fielder’s grasp, followed by another long solo shot from Gregory Polanco in the fifth. The Reds responded with an RBI groundout, single, double and home run, however, and currently lead the Bucs 6-2 in the sixth.
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.