Major League Baseball will showcase the sport's best young players during a series of spring training games it's calling "Spring Breakout," the league announced Wednesday.
The event, scheduled to take place March 14-17, will pit an organization's best prospect group against another team's in a game that's part of a doubleheader with a regularly scheduled spring game. Although highly regarded prospects often participate in major league spring training games, rosters filled with the best minor league players from each team typically participate on the backfields at spring complexes.
Spring Breakout will bring the top-caliber players over to the big league field and look to leverage the opportunity to better market minor leaguers, an added point of emphasis for MLB since it started running the minor leagues in 2021. All 30 teams will participate in the event -- which will combine the game with in-person autograph sessions and other meet-the-prospect opportunities -- and the league could televise Spring Breakout games on MLB Network.
"Spring Breakout will provide a new opportunity to showcase the future stars of the game as they continue on their journey to the Major Leagues," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a prepared statement. "Our fans will get unique opportunities to meet our best prospects, get autographs, and see the next generation of Major Leaguers up close. We are thrilled that Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and all of our Clubs are working closer than ever to grow the game and to shine a brighter light on our future All-Stars."
Farm directors surveyed by ESPN were generally optimistic about the event. While MLB teams have balked at allowing their best players to participate in the World Baseball Classic, the short window for Spring Breakout, along with the ability to keep players near spring facilities, sold them on the concept.
If the event does find success, the ability for it to grow in a second season is limitless. MLB could stage a tournament or turn it into a weeklong event. Already MLB is planning to increase its coverage of the minor leagues on its app and digitally.
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