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Developing Players without the need for minor leagues

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Offline  Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
#1

Posted: September 22, 2019, 10:01 AM Post
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Travis Sawchik wrote an interesting piece for 538 on how new training systems are developing players.

It raises the question if traditional minor leagues are even necessary.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/do ... -baseball/

Since so many minor leaguers are essentially background extras for the handful of legit prospects, do teams need to scout and employ them?

Couldn't a training center-where a team's top talent develop individually and together-work better than having teams of guys busing around the country, playing with lesser talented guys?


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Online  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
#2

Posted: September 22, 2019, 4:27 PM Post
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JimH5 said:
Travis Sawchik wrote an interesting piece for 538 on how new training systems are developing players.

It raises the question if traditional minor leagues are even necessary.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/do ... -baseball/

Since so many minor leaguers are essentially background extras for the handful of legit prospects, do teams need to scout and employ them?

Couldn't a training center-where a team's top talent develop individually and together-work better than having teams of guys busing around the country, playing with lesser talented guys?


A training center had advantages, especially for the offseason. I think it can do a lot of good things for player development.

But there is still a lot of utility for the farm system as well. Good in the batting cage or the simulators is one thing, but good in actual game conditions, with the crowd, and all that entails, is something completely different.

Furthermore, the talent can be anywhere in the draft. Brent Suter was a 31st-round pick. Think he'd get a shot at one of those "training center" models?

On the Top 25, there's Dylan File, a 21st round pick. Clayton Andrews was a 17-round pick. Max Lazar and Alec Bettinger are 11th round picks. Would the "training center" model even detect these players?


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: September 22, 2019, 6:05 PM Post
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That's a good question. I don't know.

I think a hybrid system might work, too, where orgs run 6-week mini-leagues, followed by a 3 or 4 week regrouping in their training centers, followed by another 6-week league, etc. I'm just not sure how much of the current system of 130+ game seasons in the minors is truly spent developing skills as opposed to just playing games and grinding out the summer.

And as for the Suters, they represent the needles in the haystack. Would guys like that go to Indy ball and make their way to organizations, or would they just be lost? Hard to tell.

Anyway, it sounds like the Astros are at the forefront of pushing changes. If their system keeps churning out stars, other teams will try to emulate.


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: September 22, 2019, 6:56 PM Post
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JimH5 said:
That's a good question. I don't know.

I think a hybrid system might work, too, where orgs run 6-week mini-leagues, followed by a 3 or 4 week regrouping in their training centers, followed by another 6-week league, etc. I'm just not sure how much of the current system of 130+ game seasons in the minors is truly spent developing skills as opposed to just playing games and grinding out the summer.

And as for the Suters, they represent the needles in the haystack. Would guys like that go to Indy ball and make their way to organizations, or would they just be lost? Hard to tell.

Anyway, it sounds like the Astros are at the forefront of pushing changes. If their system keeps churning out stars, other teams will try to emulate.

A hybrid system like that could definitely work for rookie ball, maybe even A-ball. And it would probably be cheaper than the current system because it would cut down on travel costs. But part of it is learning how to survive the grind of the season, and they'll need to learn that at some point.


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: September 23, 2019, 8:29 AM Post
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I had this exact thought last year during my high school JV season. I was looking at the kids sitting on my bench thinking, "That kid can't swing a bat and that kid can't catch a ball, does playing a couple innings of a JV game really help them develop as a player? Wouldn't they be better off just practicing every day instead?" I know if you told a bunch of freshmen that being on the baseball team meant practicing for three months and never playing or even going to an actual game you would have about zero kids go out, so that's not really a workable idea.

I think this could be very effective in pro baseball. I would say keep Triple A and Double A and eliminate every below. Basically run your development system like a season-long spring training. Most of the time is just practice and drills. Bring in another club to play a game against once or twice a week and then "graduate" players to your actual minor league teams. Same as with my JV kids, I really wonder how much more you could learn without constantly playing games and instead having time to stop and work on things in a controlled environment.

And I really like the idea of putting everyone together. I remember as a JV high school player I learned as much if not more from being around and practicing with the juniors and seniors than just having coaches give us instructions. I'm thinking about international signings here. Right now you've got a 16 year old from the Dominican and he's playing and practicing with other 16 year olds who are at the same stage as he is. Put that kid with some 21, 22 year olds from the same culture and who have been through it before and I think he's going to be more comfortable and you'll probably get more out of him.

I've been wanting to make a post about this for awhile but never had time to sit down and think it through. But basically from my untrained and unprofessional opinion, the current minor league system does not get the most out of players and ditching games for more "practice" and training would be more effective. You get a few at bats a game and you may not even have a ball hit to you on defense. However, the numbers of reps you can get at a practice are almost limitless.


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Posted: September 23, 2019, 12:11 PM Post
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I think it'd be hard to scout opposing players for potential trades if they never played in a game. You'd have no stats to analyze and no film to look at. Developing your own guys seems like a no brainer.

"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: September 23, 2019, 8:39 PM Post
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Agreed about scouting opponents. More games makes it easier to see a larger sample of their skills. Though amateur scouting (HS & College) is often done with a small sample.


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: September 25, 2019, 7:32 AM Post
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reality is that for most of the instructional, rookie level, and even minors through high A the players spend much more time practicing/developing than playing games. In fact it's basically a year round process that can include winter leagues or training facilities that give players this kind of attention to work on their game. Pitching/throwing is a bit different, as I'm a big proponent of giving sufficient time to rest throwing arms to help prevent injury.

It's not like high school JV, where kids have 2-3 weeks to practice after winter sports season before being thrown out there to play ~25 games in April-May after school. The games are actually icing on the cake to players, not the whole meal. What is being discussed is already largely put into practice with the instructional and rookie leagues. And there are plenty of perceived minor league "stand-in" players who have turned into good major league players - going heavily to a training center model would actually diminish the overall talent pool and make the game worse, IMO, because you'd be too heavily reliant on projecting amateur (high school, collegiate, international) talent developing and miss out on late bloomers or guys with marginal talent that maximize it on the field during games.


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: September 25, 2019, 6:39 PM Post
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There is money to be made in MiLB, don't forget that aspect...

"I'm sick of runnin' from these wimps!" Ajax - The WARRIORS


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: September 26, 2019, 1:06 PM Post
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turborickey said:
There is money to be made in MiLB, don't forget that aspect...


And the big league club sees none of that. It would probably be a huge cost savings for a major league team to dump a few minor league affiliates and instead invest some money in their spring training complex to accommodate 100 or so players all year round and do the majority of their player development there.


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: September 26, 2019, 4:14 PM Post
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jerichoholicninja said:
turborickey said:
There is money to be made in MiLB, don't forget that aspect...


And the big league club sees none of that. It would probably be a huge cost savings for a major league team to dump a few minor league affiliates and instead invest some money in their spring training complex to accommodate 100 or so players all year round and do the majority of their player development there.


Wasn't that part of the reason a number of teams have paired up in upgrading the spring training facilities & maintained a year round presence (like Cleveland & Cincinnati in Goodyear, AZ)??


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Online  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: September 27, 2019, 8:11 AM Post
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https://deadspin.com/maybe-you-just-lik ... 1838013774

Thought this was a good rebuttal to Sawchik’s article, especially because the first thing I thought when I read his piece was essentially this:

It’s interesting that as we have been hearing more and more about how horribly underpaid most MiLB players are, we’re starting to get takes about contracting MiLB affiliates, backed by shadowy “analytics” of course.


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: September 27, 2019, 7:37 PM Post
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brooks_quichenick said:
https://deadspin.com/maybe-you-just-like-watching-baseball-games-1838013774

Thought this was a good rebuttal to Sawchik’s article, especially because the first thing I thought when I read his piece was essentially this:

It’s interesting that as we have been hearing more and more about how horribly underpaid most MiLB players are, we’re starting to get takes about contracting MiLB affiliates, backed by shadowy “analytics” of course.


I started reading that and stopped after a few paragraphs. Basically the same stuff agents have been screaming the last couple years about collusion and what not. I'm sure there are some owners that are drooling over the potential cost savings but to me there's enough evidence that any money saved would just be a bonus. Take a look at all the guys over the last few years that have come out of nowhere to become big time players. The vast majority of them did so after after working with private coaches in the offseason to make changes. Obviously you need to play games. You can't just go from facing no competition to playing in the majors. But I just really wonder how much more players could develop if they eliminated the lower minors or even cut down the schedule to only a few games a week.

I'd be curious to know how many doubleheaders teams in the Midwest League play each year. Is there really much to be gained from playing two games in one day and then spending 8 hours on a bus before playing another game on only a couple hours sleep? Keep all these really young guys in one location, monitor and coordinate their sleep, nutrition, and conditioning and see how well they develop. Just seems like a no brainer to me.


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Online  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
#14

Posted: September 27, 2019, 10:35 PM Post
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jerichoholicninja said:
brooks_quichenick said:
https://deadspin.com/maybe-you-just-like-watching-baseball-games-1838013774

Thought this was a good rebuttal to Sawchik’s article, especially because the first thing I thought when I read his piece was essentially this:

It’s interesting that as we have been hearing more and more about how horribly underpaid most MiLB players are, we’re starting to get takes about contracting MiLB affiliates, backed by shadowy “analytics” of course.


I started reading that and stopped after a few paragraphs.


Clearly.


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: October 03, 2019, 7:53 PM Post
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There is something to be said about playing the game under pressure too. Crowds, real competition, game situations... it is all easier in practice than when the lights go on.


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
#16

Posted: October 10, 2019, 10:07 PM Post
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Minor League Baseball is entertainment and very popular. It doesn't exist solely for major league player development. It gives opportunities for many players not deemed as sure fire future major leaguers as adolescents a chance to play and showcase their skills in competition.


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
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Posted: October 11, 2019, 7:56 AM Post
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JohnBriggs12 said:
Minor League Baseball is entertainment and very popular. It doesn't exist solely for major league player development. It gives opportunities for many players not deemed as sure fire future major leaguers as adolescents a chance to play and showcase their skills in competition.


It exists as entertainment, but major league teams don't have to stock those teams with players. When 80+ percent of draftees don't ever spend a day in MLB, what is the justification for MLB teams drafting and signing them? What other business hires and pays hundreds of people knowing that most of them will provide them with no financial value in return?

And the question really is, are those hundreds of players really best served by sending them to remote outposts with minimal coaching, and having them play hundreds of games? Or is there a better way to help them reach their peak performance level?


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Online  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
#18

Posted: October 11, 2019, 7:57 AM Post
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jerichoholicninja said:
brooks_quichenick said:
https://deadspin.com/maybe-you-just-like-watching-baseball-games-1838013774

Thought this was a good rebuttal to Sawchik’s article, especially because the first thing I thought when I read his piece was essentially this:

It’s interesting that as we have been hearing more and more about how horribly underpaid most MiLB players are, we’re starting to get takes about contracting MiLB affiliates, backed by shadowy “analytics” of course.


Take a look at all the guys over the last few years that have come out of nowhere to become big time players. The vast majority of them did so after after working with private coaches in the offseason to make changes.


Which players are you talking about?

"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006


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Online  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
#19

Posted: October 11, 2019, 8:01 AM Post
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JimH5 said:
JohnBriggs12 said:
Minor League Baseball is entertainment and very popular. It doesn't exist solely for major league player development. It gives opportunities for many players not deemed as sure fire future major leaguers as adolescents a chance to play and showcase their skills in competition.


It exists as entertainment, but major league teams don't have to stock those teams with players. When 80+ percent of draftees don't ever spend a day in MLB, what is the justification for MLB teams drafting and signing them? What other business hires and pays hundreds of people knowing that most of them will provide them with no financial value in return?

And the question really is, are those hundreds of players really best served by sending them to remote outposts with minimal coaching, and having them play hundreds of games? Or is there a better way to help them reach their peak performance level?



I bet the trend will be the growth of the independent leagues. Plenty of guys will play for free or for peanuts just to play or to get noticed. The folks this will really hurt are the small towns that draw tourists/revenue from the minor league games. Thinking towns in the Midwest and Sally leagues in particular.

"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006


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Offline  Re: Developing Players without the need for minor leagues
#20

Posted: October 11, 2019, 12:53 PM Post
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I think you would still need A-AAA. A ball would basically be a shuttle service for whoever needs a player due to injuries, trades or call ups for AA and AAA.

You would still need the players to play games especially for injury replacements for the MLB team.

Everything below A ball can be eliminated.


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