I never had quite that experience, I never traveled overseas until the late 90s.
I was a freshman at Virginia Tech in '89, and followed the last month of the season by newspapers and highlights. I saw Olson bounce the curve in Toronto 15 minutes after the fact on Headline News because the Tech cable package didn't have HTS. But at least the book store in the little mall by Kroger carried Baseball America. The internet didn't really become a thing until after I'd graduated.
In middle/high school, probably into college, I had a Sporting News subscription. But that was the era they went from the baseball paper of record to more multi-sport and tabloid-y.
They wouldn't hurt. I remember when I heard about Pop's lack of velocity in 2019 spring training and then at Bowie despite the good numbers, the velo was down. Then of course, boom, pop went the elbow.
I agree with both points here, but I hope such "live" BP session is a step forward and it honestly sounds like he's about where he would be if he's totally healthy.
The biggest indication where he's at will be once spring training games start. If he's not in official games or is not stretching out in intrasquad games then it's time to have some concern about this season.
From what I heard about last year's alternate camp was that he was head and shoulders above everyone there, including the three pitchers (Akin, Kremer, and Zimmermann) that ended up getting starts. If he had not gotten hurt I'm pretty certain he would have made his major league debut, especially instead of Zimmermann who had really not had a full camp due to COVID-related issues.