After years of ceding the developmental high ground to third-party operators, Major League Baseball is apparently preparing to get into the summer travel baseball game, a move that could mark a dramatic shock to the prep baseball ecosystem.
As first reported by Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, MLB will launch the Prospect Development Pipeline League (PDPL), a summer-based youth development league that is designed to cut into the market dominance of Perfect Game and other summer elite event operators.
Per Passan, MLB will aim to launch the league in conjunction with USA Baseball in June 2019, with events lasting into July. The league will be invitation only, for some 80-odd prospects, and will be hosted by IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Some games might be held at nearby Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
In addition to the youth league games, MLB’s PDPL will also provide skills testing and data tracking in an attempt to limit the advantage held by the more established operators such as Perfect Game.
It remains to be seen how successful MLB’s PDPL can be right off the bat, but it certainly will create a splash in the world of high-cost travel baseball, where MLB has long been seeking to create a more egalitarian way of evaluating and developing young talent.