Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ways of Moving Prospects to Majors Draws Some Fire

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ways of Moving Prospects to Majors Draws Some Fire

Article excerpt

BRADENTON, Fla. - Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield stopped by the Pirates clubhouse Wednesday as part of a Major League Baseball Players Association contingent touring each spring training camp this month.

McKechnie Field was stop No. 26, and MLBPA union chief Tony Clark spoke with Pirates players in a meeting he later characterized as "a state of the union with some latest and greatest mixed in."

Winfield was a rare straight-to-the-majors prospect in his day. He is one of 21 players in baseball history to go directly from amateur ball to the big leagues. He was drafted fourth overall in 1973 and was in a San Diego Padres uniform within a month.

Prospects are handled differently today.

In the Chicago Cubs camp, for instance, Kris Bryant, 23, a third baseman, has hit six home runs in nine spring training games. Bryant, the No. 2 overall pick in 2013, hit .325 with 43 home runs in 2014, split between Class AA Tennessee and Class AAA Iowa.

Bryant, however, is not expected to be on the Cubs opening-day roster, because delaying his arrival will ensure he remains under team control through 2021 as opposed to 2020.

Super-agent Scott Boras, who represents Bryant, told USA Today the Cubs "are damaging the ethics and brand of Major League Baseball" by letting future arbitration dates, not blue-chip talent, determine their roster.

Clark said no one benefits when a team holds a pro-ready prospect off its roster because of "something extracurricular that may be weighing into the conversation."

The Pirates followed a similar blueprint the past two seasons when they waited until midseason to promote right-hander Gerrit Cole (June 11, 2013) and right fielder Gregory Polanco (June 9, 2014) to the majors.

"Any fan, and I'm a fan as much as anyone, can appreciate having the best 25 guys available to you," Clark said. …

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