Saturday, April 11, 2020

What Would It Take to Develop Prospects in the Year of Coronavirus?

I wondered in my post a couple of days ago what it might take to keep the prospects in your farm system from losing a year of development in this pandemic.  Now believe me, I understand that this doesn't rank up there with the life and death decisions being made every day during this crisis.  However, if you are running a Major League Baseball organization, such as the New York Mets, this should be a serious question that you are considering.  I thought it would be fun to speculate how this might be accomplished.

Whatever happens with the big leagues this season, I would bet the farm on the fact that we won't see minor league baseball games being played again until there is a proven effective vaccine against COVID-19.  There's just no way that it will make sense to resume operations on that scale until it is safe.

There are a number of groups working to speed a vaccine to fight this virus into testing and then widespread distribution, hoping to chop some time off the normal 18 months or so it usually takes.  Still, at least from what I'm reading, we're still looking at a year give or take under the optimistic scenarios.  That would certainly eliminate any chance of minor league ball as we know it in 2020.

I think if you are a team that's serious about maximizing your future you need to look at something more extensive than an Arizona Fall League deal where a few prospects per team are involved.  On the other hand, according to Baseball America each team has about 275-280 players under contract, and you're probably not going to do something that would include all of those players.

What would make sense to me would be for an organization such as the Mets to identify 75-100 players that are most likely to play in the majors at some future point.  I know that's a high number when it comes to true prospects, but in my scenario I'd like to have enough players at the various stages of development to ensure that less developed prospects aren't tossed in way over their heads on a competitive level. Realistically, the total number of players would be dependent on whatever the budget was with which you had to work.

So, if I'm running the Mets, I've opened up my complex at Port Saint Lucie and made arrangements to bring in those players identified by my Developmental people when we sat down and evaluated the system. I would assume that this year's draft picks would also be included. I foresee this happening in the fall after some months of careful planning.

Similar to the much discussed plan for MLB in Arizona, anything set up for prospects would have to be a closed system that isolated players, coaches and support personnel.  If you gave the players advanced notice and asked them to report in shape, you could accomplish a decent amount of work in 2 months, which would minimize the amount of sacrifice you're asking everyone to make.

Players, coaches, trainers, and the people who maintained the facilities would stay in a dorm like living situation. They would be segregated from the outside world during the time this camp is running.  There would be routine periodic testing of all involved.  This camp would consist of workouts and intersquad games. To lessen contact and risk there would not be games with other teams, even if those clubs were doing something similar.

In the event that none of the proposals to have some sort of major league season comes through this idea could perhaps involve major league players on a volunteer basis for those who don't want to spend a full year away from the game.

This would be a complex thing to accomplish, but certainly less complicated than currently discussed plans to have some sort of major league season.  The benefit would be that when baseball resumes a year or so down the road your prospects will be closer to helping your club than if a full year of development was just squandered.

Well, thanks for stopping by and indulging a little speculation on my part. It doesn't satisfy me like having real baseball does, but it fills a little of the void.  Barring something current and important to write about my subject tomorrow will return back in time to 2005 to a Mets game that still remains one of my favorites of 50 years as a fan.

Stay well.  Stay safe.

I'm not sure if anyone who read the old blog will find their way here after all these many years, but if you do please drop me an email or comment if you'd prefer. I'd honestly love to hear from you. Also, I will be posting here regularly if you're inclined to come back.

Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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