First Pitch: The Ever-Changing MLB Player Development Landscape

You are the General Manager of an MLB team for a day.

On this day, your focus is to come up with a strategy for the player development system.

The old system had plenty of levels. Four full-season levels — Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Low-A — along with a few short-season A-ball levels, and several rookie leagues.

Major League Baseball eliminated 40 minor league teams, wiping out most of the short-season A-ball leagues, along with some of the rookie level leagues.

MLB has also taken measures over the last decade to curtail draft spending. The players who typically get the biggest bonuses are high school players who can leverage three years in college against signing with a pro team. MLB’s changes to the bonus system have led to fewer prep players getting drafted and signed. A similar approach has limited how many international players a team can sign.

The result of both moves is that there is less of a need for the short-season leagues. The other impact is that the players who do get drafted and signed are going to be more polished. Potentially another reason to rush those prep players to A-ball.

Another big factor in every development system is that the quality of the game has improved. You’re seeing better breaking stuff in A-ball, better velocity all over the game, and position players who have a better understanding of their swings to maximize their power.

The minor league levels are still broken down by experience, and with that experience comes more consistent players.

This raises the question: With more consistency in the way the game is played across all levels, do you still need to promote players from Triple-A exclusively? Or, can teams get more aggressive and promote certain players from Double-A on a regular basis?

Remember, you’re the GM of a team for a day. How would you operate with all of the changes to the minor league system?

I’ll follow up on this tomorrow with a look at real-life examples in Rodolfo Castro and Max Kranick.

Daily Links

**Prospect Watch: Quinn Priester Strikes Out Everyone in Masterful Performance

**Pirates Comeback Comes Up Short in 4-3 Loss to Cardinals

**Mike’d Up: Reaction To Gregory Polanco Being Upset At Criticism From Fans

**Friday Focus: MLB Pipeline Names Davis on Top Catching Prospects List

**Game Recap: Missed Chances Leave Pirates Assured of Losing Season

**This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: August 27th, Jordy Mercer

**Card of the Day: 2016 Topps Jordy Mercer

Song of the Day

First Pitch