MLB Week in Review (April 17-23)

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The MLB is a league that has one of the most complicated and deep prospect pools in any major league sport.

It is a system that includes three basic levels but an average of eight teams that play in the assorted levels and leagues of minor league baseball.

There are the Triple-A teams that see the most call-ups the Double-A teams where it is thought that the best talent resides, and two levels of Single-A (High/Advanced-A and Low-A). Then there are the short season teams and multiple rookie league teams along with fall leagues and international seasons.

It is a system that involves countless numbers of players that will never see the field of a major league team.

Only the small few will make a major league squad and even fewer will make enough of an impact to remain a major league ballplayer for a good career.

The system is made with the idea that if your throw enough players a bone someone will pick it up and run with it, all the way to the MLB.

With this system rookies can sometimes be overlooked which is very much unlike the rest of the major sports leagues in this day.

In the NFL rookies are watched closely after fans follow them from NCAA, which is bigger in some areas than the NFL, and into the league where they are expected to change a team in their first year out of college.

In the NHL first round players come in as teenagers and are expected to take on major roles for their teams after their drafted.

The same can be said for players in the NBA draft who come into the league and are expected to change a franchise.

In the MLB the draft brings new players into the system and very rarely do any of those players make the major league team in only their first year after being drafted.

There are the exceptions like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg but more often than not it takes a few years for these players to make it to the MLB.

Lately the time period has been adjusted for some players and although the majority of drafted players will not see a major league field for many years if at all a few more players are taking a shorter path to the majors.

Younger players are finding their way to the MLB and this year has been no different.

The only big concern for their teams though is the fact that these young players still have time to develop and bringing them into the MLB early means they lose a year on their contracts.

There is a solution to this though as teams are utilizing a loophole in the CBA that allows the major league teams to get their super rookies and keep them for longer.

The rule essentially states that players are not eligible for free agency until playing six full seasons in the MLB.

Waiting a few weeks means that after one season in the major leagues they have not completed a full season under the rules.

That way teams can keep players for about seven years without having to compete with other teams and possibly bigger paydays.

That was the case this year for a number of teams who did not call up some of their top prospects until this week.

The Cubs are a team that has been the most obvious teams to use this rule to their advantage. With new pressure mounting in Chicago after a massive rebuild it was a bit of a shock when the Cubs started the season without three of their best young players.

Javier Baez was one of these players who impressed in Spring Training but was one of the last cuts as the Cubs claimed to send him down to develop. He is now in extended Spring Training in

Then there was Addison Russell who earned his call-up this week as the shortstop turned second baseman was a main part of a trade with the Oakland Athletics in the off-season but started the season in Triple-A. After a great stint in Triple-A he got the call in what many thought of as a surprising move although he was expected to play sometime this year.

Then there was the 23-year old that everyone was talking about throughout Spring Training. Kris Bryant was the best rookie in Spring Training and one of the best players in March throughout the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.

So when the Cubs decided to move him along with Javier Baez on the last day of cuts a lot of fans were not too happy.

They started the season without one of their best young players and for Cubs fans that is no the attitude that they thought was going to come in this new season.

When they sent him down though it was purely business, despite what the Cubs claimed, and this week his time in the minors was over.

Now the Cubs have two of their brightest young stars in the lineup while ensuring that neither of them will enter free agency until after the 2021 season, which is better news for fans down the road.

With the call-ups the Cubs announced something as well, they are ready to take a shot at the World Series right now and everyone else needs to watch out.

Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Heat Rising in Series
There is plenty of emotion in baseball but often it boils over and that was true for two series this week when the Oakland and Kansas City cleared the benches twice and the Toronto and Baltimore got into a war of words as these season series are getting heated

Bernie Williams Retires
It only took nine years after he left baseball but Bernie Williams has officially announced his retirement and just in time for the Yankees to retire his number next month avoiding an awkward moment when the Yankees retired an active players jersey

April Baseball at its Finest
The Yankees and Tigers played what is becoming a more familiar scene of April baseball as the temperature was brutal but more unusual was that for two innings both teams played through a snowstorm joining the Pirates and Cubs who were doing the same

One Step Back
Pete Rose has gained some new hope with a new commissioner as the man banned from baseball hopes to make the Hall of Fame someday but will settle for being allowed to participate in All-Star Game festivities in Cincinnati this year

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Key Series:
Detroit Tigers 2 – 1 Chicago White Sox
– The Tigers and the White Sox have regularly been the two teams fighting for the top of the AL Central and so they went after it trying to get an early advantage in what could be a long season battle between these two

Chicago Cubs 2 – 1 Pittsburgh Pirates
– The Cubs are finally getting into a groove after a rough start to the season as they took this series from the Pirates despite a snowstorm in one game as they slowly creep to the top of the NL Central division

San Francisco Giants 3 – 0 Los Angeles Dodgers
– Coming into this series the Dodgers were on a hot streak winning seven games in a row but that all ended against their long time division rivals as the Giants ended the streak and swept the Dodgers

New York Mets 3 – 0 Atlanta Braves
– The Mets have been so bad for so long that seeing them rise to the top brings plenty of joy and a little uneasiness but they are setting themselves up for a good run as they swept the series and won their 11th straight, tying a franchise record

Upcoming Series:
New York Mets vs. New York Yankees [April 24/25/26]
– The Subway Series is always a classic but this time it may take on a different feel as the Yankees are no longer the consensus favourite as the Mets sit in first place and are on a tear coming in while the Yankees are starting to find their groove after a rough start

Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves [April 27/28/29]
– The Nats and Braves have fought over the NL East in the last few years and they may very well do the same but as this series starts they are just trying to keep up with the Mets before they fall behind too far

Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers [April 27/28/29]
– The Mariners started the season as a team that many thought was going to be the dark horse while the Rangers were expected to be better with a generally healthier team so far neither have done what they were supposed to do as they face off trying to get a jumpstart

Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics [April 28/29/30]
– Both teams want to be fighting against each other at the end of the year as they are supposed to be at the top of the West as they look for an early advantage in that fight while trying to overtake the Astros in the division

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