(Photo via PDP’s Twitter, seen here)
Major League Baseball has been making a conscious effort to improve the visibility of high profile amateur players. In 2017, they began a campaign in which they teamed up with USA Baseball to help collect official data on the players. The project, called the Prospect Development Pipeline, is an effort to showcase high-level high school seniors, most of which have already committed to a college, directly to MLB scouts and executives.
The Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) is a series of several regional showcase events before high school games start up, followed by a few more regional showcase events after the season ends. During the beginning of fall, the PDP hosts an advanced scout team tournament consisting of 16 teams.
What makes the PDP stand out from other amateur showcase events and tournaments, such Perfect Game’s National Showcase, the Area Code Games, and Baseball Factory’s Team One events, is that the staff operating PDP all either work for Major League Baseball, USA Baseball, or are employed by MLB team scouts and executives. The other events, however, are staffed by independent scouting agencies, while the coaches for the PDP are all area scouting supervisors with major league teams. This allows the players to quickly understand the skill sets and philosophies that are preached at the professional level.
Not only are the coaches amateur scouts, but the PDP executives are also MLB team executives as well. Some of the executives include Dayton Moore, the General Manager of the Royals, Sig Mejdal, Special Assistant to the GM of the Astros, Tom McNamara, Special Assistant to the GM of the Mariners, and Bill Bavasi, Director of the Major League Scouting Bureau, among many other high profile executives. This allows these executives to get a firsthand look at players, but also gauge their makeup as well.
The Major League Scouting Bureau (MLSB) plays a key role at all the PDP events. They send scouts and video technicians to record data on all the players so that all MLB teams have information on the players as they get closer to the draft. “It’s a good event for the kids,” Mark Nader of the MLSB remarked. Regarding the flow of information to teams, he commented on how the PDP has transitioned from using traditional data to more advanced data in the showcase events. As one of the MLSB video technicians, Nader collects video of players to go along with any of the showcase and game data. This can include everything from height, weight, medical information, velocities, 60-times, pop times, and home-to-first times. However, recently there has been a push for more advanced metrics and player tracking data.
Blast Motion is a sensor that is put on the knob of a bat, which measures bat speed, hand speed, time to contact, and attack angle. At the PDP events, players will be evaluated by Rapsodo, a ball flight technology. Rapsodo is a similar service to TrackMan. It tracks advanced metrics such as pitch velocity, spin efficiency, pitch trajectory, exit velocity, and total distance. All of this data is then entered into MLB’s Electronic Baseball Information System, or eBIS 2, and is distributed to the 30 MLB clubs and to the MLSB. eBIS 2 is a system that is uniform throughout MLB that compiles all of potential draftees’ – both high school and college – data. Much of the information is gathered by the Scouting Bureau, who attend almost all major showcase and tournament.
As is the case of many of the scouting showcases and tournaments, the PDP allows all the participants to gain exposure. While Perfect Game and Baseball Factory tend to attract college coaches since they have such a wide range of participants. However, PDP is exclusive to MLB scouts and USA Baseball, allowing players the chance to build relationships with MLB clubs and make it easier for teams to draft them. If they choose to go to college, their file will already be in eBIS when amateur scouts begin to scout them in the years to come.