MLB's ID Tour aims to discover talent across the country

April 13th, 2023

Major League Baseball continued its 18-location Identification Tour (ID Tour) last weekend, with a stop at Pullman Center Omniplex Stadium in Chicago on Saturday.  

The tour, which also included a stop in St. Louis on Sunday, aims to discover baseball talent among underrepresented groups, particularly African-American and Latino athletes, in grades 8 and 9.

The goal of the MLB ID Tour is to give talented athletes, whether they regularly play baseball or not, the opportunity to attend future baseball development programs hosted by MLB & USA Baseball, such as the Breakthrough Series, the DREAM Series or the Hank Aaron Invitational, many of which will be held later in the year and in 2024 at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Fla. 

“We are looking to identify talent for our baseball and development pipeline, supplying our departments with talent from across the country that can extend our pipeline for as long as we can,” said Kindu Jones, MLB’s senior coordinator of baseball development. “We are going into cities that are tough cities to try to find kids who have actions that can turn into tools that can turn into becoming a prospect.”

Chris Thompson, the Cubs’ charities manager of youth baseball and softball initiatives, pointed out that baseball is expensive. The MLB ID Tour alleviates the cost so that finances do not hinder kids from playing the sport.

“We alleviate all the barriers for baseball and softball,” Thompson said. “That’s where the satisfaction is, where [you ask], ‘Hey, why can’t you play? Our field was rained out today or I didn’t have a coach or I didn’t have catcher’s equipment.’ We take care of all of that. They just have to show up and play.”

One person who took advantage of the tour was Blake Ragsdale, a shortstop and pitcher from Chicago. He said he learned a lot of from the coaches in attendance.

“I wanted the coaches to know I was here. I wanted to be there. I really wanted to participate,” he said. “I would be able to show my ability to all of the people and … maybe get drafted.”

Shortstop Parker Robinson said he had a fun experience at the Stadium.

“It was good being able to better myself around people my skill level and better,” he said.

Logan Park is from Timonium, Md., and he wanted to show the coaches his skill level as a shortstop and hitter.

“I learned that I could just charge the ball [defensively], attack [the ball] better [offensively], stay through the ball, so I can be more engaged to the ball,” Park said.

Kenny Fullman, the White Sox ACE program co-founder and program manager, hopes the kids in attendance developed friendships and learned the game through the coaching staff.

“Hopefully they learn how to do a post-style workout and be ready as they go along into the future, and try to perform in front of college scouts and professional scouts,” Fullman said. “Any time we can get kids in front of MLB staff, it’s a great opportunity to showcase their skills. … We are out here trying to showcase our kids' talent and let people know that kids in the Chicagoland area can play baseball.”

When Thompson was growing up, he didn’t recall Chicago having a baseball program like the ID Tour.

“You will hear a lot of parents and a lot of coaches [talk about not having a program back in the day], but going to the word 'opportunity': It’s an opportunity for all of our kids. I’m glad MLB is going nationwide with it. There are a lot of talented kids all over the nation, especially in Chicago.”