In the ever-evolving landscape of baseball player development, a dynamic and essential tool has emerged to nurture and guide emerging talent towards their Major League dreams: the Minor League Baseball Development List.
This innovative system serves as a compass for young prospects, charting their progress, addressing areas for improvement and propelling them through the ranks with a structured pathway. While a select group of fans know about the Development List, a measure installed by Major League Baseball in 2021 as a way to combat load management for young players, there is a majority of fans who do not understand why it benefits the Minor League system.
Jon Mozes, play-by-play broadcaster for the Altoona Curve, the Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, explained its purpose and why it’s a good measure in an interview with WCCS-AM in Indiana County Friday morning.
Mozes said Minor League clubs used to place struggling players on the injured list with what was deemed a “phantom injury” several years ago, but now that can be used for players that are actually dealing with an injury, and the Development List is used for players looking to limit innings.
“The Development List can get used for somebody in Braxton Ashcraft or Anthony Solometo’s case where they’re trying to manage innings counts for the year... Or if a guy is just not playing well and the team thinks he would benefit from a little time without game pressure while giving somebody else an opportunity on the active roster, so you can fulfill your allotment of 28 players.”
Mozes referenced outfielder Lolo Sanchez, who was placed on the Development List Thursday afternoon in order to make room for infielder Mike Jarvis, who came off the injured list. He said the Pirates still value him as a prospect and want him to continue getting that off-field work in.
“[Sanchez] is a guy that the Pirates still really value and they want to get him on track, so they can use the Development List, they can use him as an opportunity to hang around, do the daily work with the coaching staff and so some more incremental improvement before he gets back into games.”
Mozes adds this is not a bad thing for players, no matter how highly the organization may value them.
“In some cases, it’s really valuable because sometimes you need an extra infielder or an extra outfielder on your roster. It’s been super valuable at Triple-A because, you know, players are coming and going so often to the major league roster that you might have a situation where the big league club needs a starting pitcher and an outfielder and there are extra guys to backfill that roster in Triple-A when they call up guys on the 40-man [roster].”
As of August 18, four players are on the Curve’s Development List. Those are Sanchez, Ashcraft and infielders Claudio Finol and Norkis Marcos.
Ashcraft will likely be activated once his turn in the rotation rolls around, which could be next Tuesday or Wednesday when Altoona hosts Akron for a six-game series.
In summary, the Development List is not a negative thing in baseball. Quite the opposite, actually. If a top prospect makes a trip to the list, especially a young top prospect, they’re either a pitcher not seeing action for another week or someone fine-tuning abilities off the field.