A group of the most talented high school players in the country will soon head to Bradenton, Fla., to participate in a prestigious baseball development program, hosted by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. In the weeks leading up to this event, several of those players will be celebrated with
A group of the most talented high school players in the country will soon head to Bradenton, Fla., to participate in a prestigious baseball development program, hosted by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. In the weeks leading up to this event, several of those players will be celebrated with a touch of pomp and circumstance in their hometowns.
Beginning this week and lasting through mid-May, MLB and USA Baseball are embarking on a nearly 40-stop tour across the United States to recognize around half of the 80 participants of the inaugural Prospect Development Pipeline League, a premier development and showcase experience for high school baseball prospects.
The first stops on the tour took place in Florida and California, where MLB and USA Baseball representatives presented the players with their official PDP League jerseys, with their classmates, friends and family watching.
In California, Jared Jones, from La Mirada High School was recognized, as were two players from Orange Lutheran High School: Max Rajcic and Christian Rodriguez.
In Florida, Dylan Crews of Lake Mary High School was the player selected for special recognition.
“There’s a lot of high schools around the country that may never have a guy in it. For us to have two of them is pretty neat,” said Orange Lutheran High School baseball coach Eric Borba. “I think these guys are as deserving as anybody.”
The players who participate in the PDP League will receive hands-on tutorials from some of the most well-known names in recent Major League history. A few weeks ago, MLB announced that Ryan Howard and Derek Jeter and Hall of Famers Chipper Jones and Barry Larkin will help coach the kids.
“I’m excited for it, and especially to learn from the captain, Derek Jeter,” Rodriguez said. “I’m really looking forward to being in Florida and see what the weight room is like and to really just develop my game more.”
“I’m really excited for this,” Rajcic said. “It’s the best players in the nation. I know quite a bit about it because I’ve been talking about it with a few people that work at USA [Baseball]. It’s going to be a fun few weeks.”
The PDP League, which will be held from mid-June through early-July at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, is an invitation-based development opportunity for approximately 80 of the top high school baseball players eligible for the 2020 MLB Draft.
It will include competitive game play, practice and training sessions, with MLB club representatives serving as on-field coaches, and evaluation using modern technologies tailoring individualized development curriculums for each player.
The PDP League will serve as a primary identification opportunity for the USA Baseball 18U National Team, slated to compete in the World Baseball Softball Confederation U-18 Baseball World Cup in Busan, South Korea, in early September. Additionally, the league will serve as a feeder for a new MLB All-Star High School Prospect Game for the best high school baseball players, taking place in Cleveland as part of MLB’s All-Star Week festivities in July.
As a part of the player experience, all athletes will receive a tablet for the duration of the league as the dedicated vehicle for athlete communication, scheduling, daily pushing of data and personal video review, among other functionalities.
This platform will create another opportunity to improve player development throughout the league, while reinforcing player accountability and offering opportunities to maximize not only the league experience, but also the athlete’s continued growth both on and off of the field.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.