For those looking to check in on prospects each spring, you’re typically best served heading to the backfields of the Spring Training facilities across Arizona and Florida or sticking around for the latter innings of Cactus and Grapefruit League games for a few stray pitches or at-bats.
But what if the next generation got the springtime spotlight all to themselves? Let the kids play indeed.
On Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced a new Spring Training event called Spring Breakout coming next March 14-17.
All 30 MLB clubs will assemble rosters filled with 20-25 of their best prospects to take on top Minor League or rookie talents from other organizations. Each team will play at least one seven-inning exhibition game as part of the initiative. One Arizona and one Florida organization will play two over the four days to make the math work.
Twelve of this year’s matchups will be paired with Major League Spring Training games as part of in-stadium doubleheaders, giving fans a peek at their favorite team’s future and present in one memorable day.
“Spring Breakout will provide a new opportunity to showcase the future stars of the game as they continue on their journey to the Major Leagues,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a release Wednesday. “Our fans will get unique opportunities to meet our best prospects, get autographs and see the next generation of Major Leaguers up close. We are thrilled that Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and all of our Clubs are working closer than ever to grow the game and to shine a brighter light on our future All-Stars.”
Rosters will be officially announced closer to the Spring Breakout. Prospects are eligible to play regardless of previous Minor League level or experience, allowing for a mix of near-MLB-ready players and some of pro ball’s youngest talent.
The action begins Thursday, March 14, when the Rangers host the Reds at Surprise Stadium at 6:05 p.m. ET/3:05 p.m. local in Arizona. An hour later in the Sunshine State, Orioles prospects will travel to Bradenton to square off against their counterparts from the Pirates system.
So on one mid-spring day, it may be possible to see 2023 first-rounders Wyatt Langford and Rhett Lowder square off in the desert, while Top 3 overall prospects Jackson Holliday and Paul Skenes prepare to face each other on the Gulf Coast.
Other prime matchups include Nationals-Mets (Dylan Crews, James Wood; Jett Williams, Luisangel Acuña, Drew Gilbert), Rays-Twins (Junior Caminero, Carson Williams; Walker Jenkins, Brooks Lee) and Mariners-Padres (Cole Young, Harry Ford; Ethan Salas, Jackson Merrill).
The full inaugural Spring Breakout schedule is below:
Thursday, March 14
*Reds @ Rangers, 6:05 p.m. ET/3:05 p.m. PT
*Orioles @ Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET/4:05 p.m. PT
Friday, March 15
*Marlins @ Cardinals, 2:05 p.m. ET/11:05 a.m. PT
*Nationals @ Mets, 3:10 p.m. ET/12:10 p.m. PT
Padres @ Mariners, 4:10 p.m. ET/1:10 p.m. PT
White Sox @ Cubs, 5:05 p.m. ET/2:05 p.m. PT
*Giants @ Athletics, 7:05 p.m. ET/4:05 p.m. PT
Saturday, March 16
Braves @ Red Sox, 1:05 p.m. ET/10:05 a.m. PT
Phillies @ Tigers, 1:05 p.m. ET/10:05 a.m. PT
*Blue Jays @ Yankees, 4:05 p.m. ET/1:05 p.m. PT
*Rays @ Twins, 4:05 p.m. ET/1:05 p.m. PT
*Guardians @ Reds, 7:05 p.m. ET/4:05 p.m. PT
*Dodgers @ Angels, 7:10 p.m. ET/4:10 p.m. PT
*D-backs @ Rockies, 7:10 p.m. ET/4:10 p.m. PT
Sunday, March 17
*Astros @ Cardinals, 10:05 a.m. ET/1:05 p.m. PT
*Brewers @ Royals, 4:05 p.m. ET/1:05 p.m. PT
* -- paired with Major League game as traditional doubleheader