Why Should You Care About Prospects?

Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, with the schedule moved up to the morning due to expected thunderstorms in the afternoon. So I decided to head over to the Buccos sub-Reddit and hold an AMA (ask me anything, for those unfamiliar with Reddit terminology). The questions were good, with a lot of discussion about players in the farm system, along with some questions on the MLB battles. There were also some questions and comments about the site’s upcoming switch to a subscription format.

One of the questions ended up being a question I get often, and it was along the lines of “why should I care about prospects?”

I gave a response there, but I’ll go into more detail here for anyone who didn’t see it, or anyone else who has the same question. Technically, you don’t have to care about prospects. But if you want to be informed about the Pirates, then you’re going to want to follow the progress of the prospects in the system.

The Pirates are always going to be a team that builds their core through the farm system. Take a look at their starting lineup for the 2015 season.

C – Francisco Cervelli (Acquired for Justin Wilson)

1B – Pedro Alvarez (Draft)

2B – Neil Walker (Draft)

SS – Jordy Mercer (Draft)

3B – Josh Harrison (Acquired in a 2009 trade)

LF – Starling Marte (International Signing)

CF – Andrew McCutchen (Draft)

RF – Gregory Polanco (International Signing)

Pretty much all of those guys are home-grown. The two exceptions are Cervelli — who was acquired for a home-grown player — and Harrison, who spent all but one year of his career and his development in the Pirates’ system. Some of the guys above were in the organization already when Neal Huntington took over. Some were added after Huntington took over. But either way, this organization under Huntington has focused heavily on the farm system, and used that to build the core of a team that has made the playoffs the last two years, and projects to make it again this year.

The playoffs won’t change that approach. Just look at the first base situation as proof. The Pirates are going with Pedro Alvarez and Corey Hart this year as their first base options. Alvarez is coming off a down year at the plate, and is new to the first base position. Hart is also coming off a down year, with question marks about whether he can bounce back to his pre-double knee surgery form. These are not exactly guarantees.

The minor leagues will put the first base situation in perspective. If you don’t follow the prospects, then you don’t know about Josh Bell. You don’t know that he was moved to first base this off-season, with the sole purpose of being the first baseman of the future, possibly by mid-2016. If you know about that information, then you’d know that the Pirates are going to roll the dice with short-term options like Alvarez and Hart, then wait on Bell to arrive. They did the same thing prior to Gregory Polanco’s arrival, and prior to every other big prospect who was the “Player of the Future” at their position.

That’s not the only example. Going into this off-season, if you followed the farm system you would have known that the Pirates had a short-term need at catcher and starting pitcher. They didn’t have the short-term options at the Major League level, unlike the situation with Alvarez at first base. They did have prospects in the system. Elias Diaz had a breakout year at the plate in 2014, looking like the catcher of the future. However, he wouldn’t be ready until the middle of the season, at the earliest. The pitching staff has top prospects in the upper levels like Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Adrian Sampson, and Tyler Glasnow. But none of them were going to be ready by Opening Day, meaning the Pirates needed at least two free agent starters. Thus, the Pirates needed a short-term catching option and two starters for the 2015 season.

If you’re not following the prospects, then you aren’t fully informed about the Pirates. I often get asked why I devote time to the Major League team when this is a prospect site. We cover the majors because it’s all connected. The Pirates don’t just have this farm system operating as a separate division from the majors, and occasionally churning out MLB players by happy coincidence. It’s all one organization. Everything the Pirates do in the minors has one goal in mind: future success in the majors. And every move the Pirates make at the major league level can be explained by what is going on in the minors. The reason to follow prospects is because it gives you the full insight into the short-term and long-term plans of this organization.

The Best Way to Follow the Prospects

As you may know, we announced this week that the site will be switching over to a subscription site on April 13th. We provide better information on the Pirates’ farm system than any other site. That includes live reports, in-depth coverage and analysis, and putting everything in perspective by revealing the thought process behind all of the moves the Pirates make, from the minors to the majors.

Let’s go back to the Josh Bell example. You might have known about Bell, because he’s one of the guys that the rest of the Pittsburgh media will talk about when they do an occasional minor league story. You can go to Baseball-Reference or one of many other sites and look up his stats for free. And you might have even seen an article on him being the first baseman of the future at MiLB.com, Baseball America, or Baseball Prospectus. But you’re not going to get an idea of how he’s making the transition to first base, or what he has done to prepare to the move unless you follow this site.

At the start of Spring Training, I wrote about how Bell added muscle this off-season, which he can afford to add due to his move from the outfield to first. I also talked about how he wore down at the end of last year, and how the move to first base should eliminate the fatigue. He saw a drop in power at the end of the year, and I would argue that the added muscle, and the lower intensity position will help him avoid that power drop in the future. And then there’s the actual performance at first base, which I provided in a video earlier this month.

This is information you can’t get from the stat pages. It’s information you won’t get from the national outlets that are just looking for the big story on Bell (he’s moving to first base) and not looking for all of the detailed ongoing coverage of the move. It’s only information you will find here. I know that because I sit alone in the Pirate City media room every day, and I’m the only reporter interviewing the prospects and watching them on the field for the majority of these days. And then during the season we are the only outlet that has regular coverage from every minor league city in the system.

I mentioned the national outlets like MiLB.com, Baseball America, and Baseball Prospectus. All of those sites do an outstanding job covering minor league baseball, and I’m a personal subscriber to BA and BP. But when it comes to individual teams, you’re not going to get detailed coverage. You’ll get the top ten prospects, and usually those are the prospects they feature during the season. You won’t get reports on every prospect in the Pirates’ system, and you won’t get a deep look at how the Pirates operate like you do at Pirates Prospects.

For example, take a look at the article I wrote last week about how the Pirates are now trying to stay ahead of the curve with the new draft rules. Or there’s the article I did earlier this month breaking down Jameson Taillon’s delivery over the last four years. No other site would offer this level of analysis on the Pirates’ system. Our close coverage of the farm system led to us spotting the trend with Wyatt Mathisen, JaCoby Jones, Connor Joe, Jordan Luplow, and then confirming that the trend is related to the new draft rules. In Taillon’s case, I have a library of video dating back to his debut, and was able to use that, plus my many conversations with Taillon over the years, to ask the right questions to get that level of insight on his delivery changes.

Getting back to the original question: why should you follow the prospects? If you’re a Pirates fan, then you’re not going to be fully informed about how this organization operates if you don’t follow the farm system. The Pirates put a huge focus on their farm system, and so should you. And the best way to follow the farm system is by subscribing to and reading Pirates Prospects. For the price of one cup of coffee each month, you can get the best coverage of the Pirates’ system, from the majors to the minors, and you can follow the only site that gives detailed coverage on the Pirates’ minor league system.

Analysis

  • Not to change the subject, but just saw this story ….very sad and a tragic loss of a very talented young man….

    http://m.mlb.com/news/article/115372234/mariners-prospect-victor-sanchez-dies-in-venezuela

  • Lee Foo Young
    March 28, 2015 8:46 pm

    I live near Philly and Baltimore and have friends who follow those teams. They would sell their grandmother to have a site like this!

    • Foo: Were you the guy who convinced AJ Burnett to move to Philly last year?
      I live around Knoxville/Oak Ridge, TN and I have shared the Prospect Guide with folks who follow the Braves, Reds, and Red Sox and they were all very impressed and very envious.

      The site is excellent, and what helps to make it special is the overall knowledge and professionalism not only of the authors, but also the readers and regular contributors – an excellent blend of new and old baseball which makes it an excellent read and an excellent educational tool.

  • What do you think the odds are that the Bucs trade Sean Rodriguez so they can keep Florimon active on the ML roster? SR and Kang look like duplicated value (other than SR’s ability to play the OF) to me.

    • r: Slim and none would be the odds on that trade happening. Rodriguez does play usually 20-25 games a year in the OF and in many years he plays about 15-20 games at 1B, in addition to work at 2B and 3B. I doubt they thought they had any chance to get Kang, therefore the trade for Sean Rodriguez. I am kind of anxious to see what happens regarding Charlie Morton, and I am sure Jeff Locke, Jaff Decker, and Andrew Lambo are very interested also.

  • Lol love it a why u should care about prospects topic that flows into a by the way make sure u pay and subscribe to the website pitch

    • Lol sort of pictured this infomercial running at 3am with don lapre narrating. All that was missing was hearing how I could make millions taking out small newspaper ads.

      • Lee Foo Young
        March 28, 2015 8:44 pm

        As I told Mike…well, if you don’t pay, then the site will go away. Tim HAS to advertise.

    • Lee Foo Young
      March 28, 2015 8:44 pm

      Mike…well, if you don’t pay, then the site will go away. Tim HAS to advertise.

      • That’s not true at all you can choose to believe that if u want that’s great for u for tim and the people who will pay but the underhanded way it’s being done is eh redicoulus u don’t need all this false justification on charging for content just do it and be honest he wants to cash in as best as possible as he should I’d just prefer it be done upfront and truthfully

        • Oh please, spare us that BS. It isnt in any way underhanded….he told you weeks before hand and gave a long lengthy explanation as to why he did it and how he struggled to come to the decision. Then he relied to nearly every comment on that article, thanking people for reading whether they said they were paying or not.

          You can disagree with the choice to switch, but you embarrass yourself by calling it underhanded on Tim’s part. Upfront and truthful? What more do you want, him to come to your house and discuss it with you? Tim handled this very professionally.

          • Lol yes u should believe that that’s what you’ve been told again I’m not saying anything out of any sort of emotional feeling but it’s the truth and hey tim deserves to live a good life through his site he’s put in alot of hard work and I’m sure sacrificed alot I just prefer the real reasoning not that he’s backed into a corner and this was the only option to keep the site around because it’s not

            • Since you know it all ill leave you to it. Tough to argue with your immense knowledge of the “facts” of the situation.

            • I wish I knew the real reason you were referencing, Mike. Unfortunately, I just own the site, have access to all of the financials, can see the poor trends with the advertising model, and thought I made a decision based on that.

              But it seems like you know more about this situation than myself and everyone else.

        • Serious? Well first of all this i how he makes a living now and if he has the resources he can put more time into it and make the site grow The amount of access he gives you is worth far more than 2.99 a month.

        • It is a sales pitch.

          Want to join me when I go down to 115 Federal Street next week, I’m going to chuck rocks at the Pirates’ offices, they just aren’t upfront enough about how much they want to take my money and keep underhandedly showing highlights of Andrew McCutchen playing baseball.

        • Ya know, I don’t mind the snarky criticism, but knock off the textspeak and use punctuation, fer cryin’ out loud. It’s tedious to read and makes you look like an idiot.

          • One advantage of Tim going pro with this is that we’re unlikely to have to experience trollish comments like the one above.

  • pilbobuggins
    March 28, 2015 2:32 pm

    While not a prospect it is becoming apparent to me that good morton outings are the exception not the norm, as much as I want to keep rooting for charlie I find myself in the same quandry I had with pedro a couple of years ago, do I stay on the bandwagon or just wash my hands on this player. Fortunately for pedro he could switch positions and redeem himself, somehow I just can’t picture charlie in the pen. The consolation here is that as the #5 starter he just needs to pitch .500 ball ( I know you sabre guys hate that stat for pitchers but it sums up what the bucs need from charlie quite well) and if he fails they have several options this year to replace him with.

  • I signed up the first day. I check your site multiple times a day. It’s the best Pirate coverage anywhere. To continue reading everything on this site it’s worth the money. I did read that there is an app that’s coming. 🙂 One suggestion, have an option that alerts you for new material.
    Best of luck and keep up the good work!

  • pilbobuggins
    March 28, 2015 1:11 pm

    Tim you should have been a preacher. Just don’t expect me to sing in the chior as I cannot sing, do however expect me to sit in a pew and listen avidly to the gospel of baseball as interpreted by reverand tim. : )

  • Tim- I’m having problems with the payment processor. Tried a credit card I typically use for everything and also tried my debit card, both indicated a problem sending the information to the payment processor, so that tells me there is something wrong on the system side of things

  • Daniel Carozza
    March 28, 2015 11:52 am

    Just signed up! Well worth a few dollars/month. And to top it off you get to support a hard working small business man. We need more of that. I’ve been following the site since it first began and it truly is the absolute best coverage of the Bucs you will find. It’s the only site I visit every single day. Its honestly probably worth triple what Tim is charging. Don’t hesitate to sign up. The content will only improve! Can’t wait for the app either! Let’s Go Bucs!!

  • Just signed up for monthly1

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