ATLANTA -- In an effort to eliminate the financial and travel burdens that might have prohibited some top high school prospects from gaining deserved exposure and instruction, Major League Baseball and USA Baseball have jointly created the Prospect Development Pipeline, an initiative that will begin Saturday morning with a workout in suburban Atlanta.
A select group of the Southeast's top high school-aged prospects have been invited to participate in this workout, which will be staged at Coolray Field, home of the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves. This will serve as the first of 17 PDP Premier events scheduled throughout the country this year.
• Draft Central
MLB and USA Baseball will arrange each of these one-day, invitation-only workouts to enhance select prospects' exposure to all 30 MLB teams. Participation is free, and invitations will be extended based on the geographical proximity of the player's hometown to the workout site.
"Major League Baseball strives to be a steward to the amateur game, and the launch of the Prospect Development Pipeline marks a promising new chapter of this longstanding commitment," MLB senior VP of league economics and strategy Chris Marinak said. "The Prospect Development Pipeline program will offer direct opportunities for the next generation of players to receive the most comprehensive exposure to MLB clubs possible."
MLB's Scouting Bureau will oversee evaluations of the attendees and then file official reports that will be made available to all big league teams, many of which likely have at least one representative at every workout. Left-hander Jacob Heatherly, the No. 17 prospect on the 2017 Draft Top 50 list, is the top-ranked Draft prospect expected to be in attendance at the Atlanta workout.
Five of the PDP Premier events -- Atlanta, Houston (Jan. 21), Bradenton, Fla. (Jan. 28), Southern California (Feb. 4) and Phoenix (Feb. 5) -- will focus on evaluating prospects eligible for this year's MLB Draft. This year's remaining events will be held after most high school seasons have been completed, allowing both the clubs and 2018 Draft-eligible prospects nearly a full year to benefit from this new initiative.
• 2017 Draft Top 50
The PDP schedule will conclude in September with the Advanced Scout Team Tournament, a 16-team championship to be held at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
Saturday's event is open to the public. Player assessments begin at 8:45 a.m. ET. Players will begin completing defensive and offensive evaluations at 10 a.m. ET.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.