MLB Increasing Efforts To Create More African-American Prospects Among Pitchers, Catchers
High school P Hunter Greene is "projected to be the first player chosen" in June's MLB draft, but he also represents the league’s "potential star role model in its battle to reverse the industry’s scarcity of African-American players," according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. MLB's African-American population is "hovering around 8%," and the league is "trying to focus efforts on attracting more pitchers and catchers." Greene "could become the first right-handed high-school pitcher selected with the No. 1 overall pick." There were "only 14 African-American pitchers on opening day rosters last year -- 1.6% of all major-league pitchers -- and just one black Canadian-born catcher." MLB during an event this weekend in Tempe, Ariz., called the Dream Series is "hoping to show that it’s cool to be a pitcher or catcher, while also inviting collegiate and professional scouts to take a look for themselves." MLB VP/Youth & Facility Development and Dir of MLB's Urban Youth Academy Darrell Miller "believes a renewed focus on pitching and catching should make a difference." There "hasn’t been an everyday African-American catcher since Charles Johnson 12 years ago." But if "more African-Americans are funneled into these positions, MLB reasons, this spiral could end." Miller said, "If you see a guy like Hunter become a really high pick as a pitcher, I’d be thrilled. Talking about it is one thing, but seeing guys come through the academies, and the impact he could have on the mound, it gives these kids a vehicle, knowing there’s a chance" (USA TODAY, 1/11).
BATTERY CHARGERS: The Dream Series is the latest in a set of diversity-focused amateur development camps for high school pitchers and catchers created by MLB and USA Baseball. This weekend's event will take place at the Angels’ Tempe Diablo Spring Training complex and will provide pitching and catching instruction from former African-American MLB players including Dave Stewart, LaTroy Hawkins, Darren Oliver and Marquis Grissom. The Dream Series adds to other MLB and USA Baseball programs targeting minority high school players, including its Breakthrough Series baseball camps and Elite Development Invitational, and will be cost free to participants. MLB and USA Baseball also recently collaborated to create a broader Prospect Development Pipeline program for top youth players with a particular focus on technology-driven assessment and analysis (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).