Major League Baseball and USA Baseball on Monday announced enhancements to the joint Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) to feature a lineup of evaluation and showcase events for 2021 & 2022 MLB Draft prospects, including the first-ever MLB Draft Combine for high school and college baseball players. Additionally, the PDP League, a development & assessment opportunity for high school players eligible for the following year’s Draft, will return following the cancellation of the 2020 event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs, which will be hosted at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., will strictly adhere to health protocols and other safety measures that are consistent with all state and local regulations, protect all participants and on-site personnel, and maintain the integrity of the individual player assessments.
The inaugural MLB Draft Combine (June 20-28) will feature top high school and college baseball prospects, as identified by MLB Clubs, who will have the opportunity to participate in a series of medical & performance assessments as well as educational programming designed to prepare them for a career in professional baseball. As part of the Combine experience, the top 88 high school players eligible for the 2021 MLB Draft will be selected to participate in a unique showcase tournament from June 20 through 26. The tournament will feature eight games, including “bronze medal” and “gold medal” games, as well as PDP Performance Assessments and a pro-style showcase workout. Medical and performance assessments for all athletes will be conducted June 24-28. Additionally, all participants of the newly formed MLB Draft League will have the opportunity to participate in Combine assessments and evaluations through special events in Draft League communities during the month of June. The MLB Draft Combine will be an integral part of the identification and development process for future USA Baseball national teams. MLB and USA Baseball are in communication with the NCAA to ensure athlete eligibility requirements are met overall.
From July 22 through Aug. 1, the second PDP League will feature the top 96 high school players who are eligible for the 2022 MLB Draft. The PDP League provides athletes with an unprecedented amateur experience, including competitive gameplay, player development sessions, educational seminars and other player programming to prepare players for a professional baseball career. The PDP League also will continue to serve as the primary identification opportunity for the USA Baseball 18U National Team.
Additional details for the MLB Draft Combine and the 2021 PDP League, both of which are voluntary and free of charge for participants, will be announced at a later date.
The 2021 MLB Draft is planned for July 11-13, and for the first time since the inception of the Draft in 1965, the event will be scheduled outside the month of June. The Draft will feature a minimum of 20 rounds across the three days, beginning with the opening night of the Draft on Sunday, July 11 following the 2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, part of All-Star Sunday at Truist Park. Since 2009, the first night of the Draft has been held live at MLB Network in Secaucus, N.J.
ABOUT THE PROSPECT DEVELOPMENT PIPELINE
Created in 2017, the PDP is the official identification and player assessment pathway to all 30 MLB Clubs for elite amateur baseball players in advance of the annual MLB Draft.
PDP athletes take part in one the most comprehensive athletic evaluation experiences in sports to date, which include the following:
• Athletic Assessment – Captures objective performance measurements including gait analysis, dynamic broad & counter-movement jumps, agility, cognitive speed of processing, and, grip strength & slant board sway tests.
• Sport Vision Screening– Screens players with a set of vision tests designed to help athletes by assessing vision strengths and identifying areas of vision that can be improved to enable them to reach maximum performance levels.
• Swing Analysis – Each athlete is assigned to a sensor to track each swing they take, to monitor the barrel speed, hand speed, acceleration and impact momentum. High-speed, slow motion video is captured on every athlete.
• Ball Flight Analysis – For pitchers, measurements include velocity, spin rate, spin axis, spin efficiency vertical & horizontal break. For hitters, measurements include ball exit velocity, spin rate, distance and launch angle.
Following each evaluation, athletes receive a fully-customized player report, inclusive of personal results and data from their evaluation, developmental information with guidelines for improvement, and other relevant resources to aid players and families in navigating the amateur experience.
The PDP also supports a growing list of additional programs and initiatives, providing player development and athletic assessment exposures for summer baseball collegiate leagues, MLB Baseball & Softball Development amateur events (e.g., Hank Aaron Invitational, DREAM Series, Breakthrough Series and States Play), MLB international showcases, the East Coast Pro Showcase, and USA Baseball’s national teams, national team development programs, and its National Team Championships.