Creating a developmental pipeline for young players -- specifically those of color -- is the primary goal of MLB’s ID Tour. The program, started in 2019, aims to make baseball more accessible to all players and identify talent through showcase events.
“We look for kids coming from the inner city that love baseball and that want to play baseball,” said Del Matthews, vice president of baseball development. “We created this to take them through a pro-style workout and hopefully raise their platform and give them an opportunity to come to some of our other development events.”
The ID Tour scheduled four showcases in May -- two in Jersey City, one in Brooklyn and one at Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx. Most athletes who attended are finishing up their high school season and looking ahead to joining travel teams and the summer showcase circuit. If selected, these players are invited to other development events hosted by MLB.
Those events include the DREAM Series (a showcase event focused on the dynamics of pitching and catching), Breakthrough Series (an on and off-field player development series in which scouts and collegiate coaches attend), and the PDP League (Prospect Development Pipeline). Attending and participating in the ID Tour gives young athletes the opportunity to be discovered and invited to other events.
Baseball players between eighth through 11th grade were eligible to attend the day-long showcase.
Tony Reagins, chief baseball development officer, said he is looking for the “needle-in-the-haystack” player while attending the events.
“Every once in a while, you'll see a kid that just jumps off the page,” said Reagins. “You can tell right away when there's something different about a kid. When you see that, in this type of setting at this age, it is exciting.”
These events allow MLB Youth programs to turn over all stones and identify hidden talent. Reagins, whose role with MLB began in 2015 overseeing the first-ever youth programs department, is excited about these events because it breaks stereotypes of youth baseball.
“We always hear that African American kids aren't playing, Hispanic kids aren't playing as much,” said Reagins. “But then you come out here and you see it. It really starts to prove the point that they are playing, and that there are talents, and they have just as much as ability. All they need is an opportunity. We're here to get them.”