First Pitch: The Pirates Prospects Rebuild

I’ve been undergoing a rebuild of Pirates Prospects over the last few years.

When I started this site in 2009, there was no one else with me. This was an idea I had to bring better prospect coverage to Pittsburgh, at a time when they had a General Manager who was finally starting to get serious about building through the farm system.

We are now in the 14th season of me covering this organization. This site has evolved and expanded in a big way beyond myself. Unfortunately, my original routine from 2009 remained, leading to massive burnout starting in 2018. That coincided with the Pirates struggling and bleeding fans, which led to me losing subscribers, which led to harder work to make up for that, despite the burnout.

What I’ve learned over the last few years is that we have a core audience that has been here for over a decade, and as long as we’re here doing our thing, they will be here.

That has allowed me to approach this site in a way that made it a destination in the first place, by not being afraid of doing something different.

The 2022 season has been all about establishing the “New” Pirates Prospects. This site has always been constantly evolving, so we’re on at least Mark 50 of this site’s design and focus. The one thing that has remained constant through all of the changes has been the focus on this organization from the ground up, rather than the top-down look that every other outlet provides.

This year, we have a new way to provide that content.

P2 DAILY

You’re going to get something to read about the Pirates 365 days a year on this site. Every day, we offer four articles that allow you to quickly catch up on what is happening in the system.

Our newest features this year are P2Daily and the Pirates Daily Video Rundown. Both have been headed up by Anthony Murphy, who is doing an amazing job leading the daily coverage with a quick look through the system in both article form, and with videos.

The Prospect Watch is the site’s longest running feature, going back for over a decade to look at the nightly minor league action.

The Pirates Discussion gives you a place to talk about the team, or see what other fans are talking about, led by Jeff Reed, aka Bucs’N’Pucks from the comments. One of the cool things about this feature is that we have an active group of commenters, and just as many people who read just to see what everyone is talking about.

These go up every morning at 8 AM, all throughout the season. We will have a different P2Daily schedule once the offseason hits.

P2 PREMIUM

We switched to a subscription site in 2015. At the time, we went completely behind the paywall. That almost cut our traffic in half, although we were by far the busiest Pirates site, with over 11 million page views in 2014, before the switch.

Putting every article behind the paywall was restrictive. It made it to where a lot of people just couldn’t read us at all. There wasn’t a great method for deciding which articles each day would be premium and which would be free.

I started this year with the concept of article drops, modeled after craft brewery releases. Every Tuesday and Friday, we release our premium articles in bulk, typically aiming for at least ten articles between the two days. Our premium articles are typically more evergreen, meaning that if we release something on Tuesday, it’s probably still going to be relevant the following Tuesday.

The article drops allow you to read our best work at your own pace, rather than waiting for us to release one per day. Some people binge-read on Tuesday and Friday. Others space the reading out. You’re paying for it, so once we have the articles produced, it should really be up to you on when you want to read them.

If you look around, you’ll notice that these premium articles are the lifeblood of the site. We don’t have advertising on this site. Everything you see is our content. This site has been fully independent for 14 seasons now, and that’s made possible by the support of our subscribers.

You can subscribe today to get our best articles and help support all of the work we do here.

We’re not stopping at P2Daily and the premium article drops. There’s more to come in the final two months of the season.

FUQUAY VINYL PLAYLIST

I usually fill these with new music. This week, I was feeling a lot of classics, while slowly being comfortable with calling all of these “classic rock.”

First Pitch continues below…

P2 WEEKLY

Every day, we post the same four features as part of our P2Daily article drop.

We’ve also been slowly rolling out a P2Weekly schedule. I’ve been waiting for a sustainable article schedule (finding seven features we could do each week), and we’re close enough that we can launch now.

Every day of the week, we will release a feature specific to that day.

First Pitch, for example, goes every Monday.

We release our weekly player awards on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, I will have a column for now, as I work on a new feature for the site to replace this spot.

On Thursday, we run a Prospect Roundtable, which is the only one of these features that is premium.

On Friday, Ethan Hullihen has a weekly payroll update.

I’m going to be getting back to giving site updates on Saturdays, so you are always updated on what is new around here.

Sunday is the day we focus on draft picks, with John Dreker currently breaking down the 2022 debuts.

This schedule will change in the offseason, but the concept will remain of a specific feature each day, every week.

During the season, this and P2Daily give five free daily articles. Again, this is all paid for by the premium articles, which are our best articles with the most work put into them. If you like the free daily stuff, you’ll definitely like the premium content.

THE 2022 GUIDE

Finally, there’s the status of The 2022 Guide, previously know as The Prospect Guide.

I’ve been producing this book since 2011, with our tenth anniversary edition releasing last year. That book was also the final one of the old format.

The 2022 Guide was released for pre-sales last November, and was finished this April. Unfortunately, the content of the book was not much different from the content on the site with the new article drops.

I could have released the book at that point and it probably wouldn’t have been a great product for some of our most hardcore followers. That didn’t really sit well with me. I’ve been working this year on creating a product that is separate from the site content.

The 2022 Guide will be that product.

In the past, the book was home to our site rankings, and profiles on every prospect in the system.

Going forward, this book will be my sole look at the entire organization, regardless of prospect status. This will include tiered rankings of every player in the organization 25 and under, and a breakdown of the “post-prospects.”

This will be released at the end of the 2022 season, and will be more of a Season Recap/Look to the Future at the end of every season going forward.

Pirates Prospects, the site, has become something way bigger than me, and I love that. The Guide will have more of an old school feel, getting just my

Everyone who has pre-ordered the book will receive this book when it is released. We won’t be putting further pre-sales up until we have a specific release date from the printer.

ACCOUNT ISSUES

If you’re having issues with your subscription, contact us through the Help form on your account.

We put our new paywall up last month, and a small percentage of users experienced issues with their subscriptions being imported. Unfortunately for my workload, but fortunately for this site’s health, a small percentage for us is a few hundred people.

This site is still just me on the admin side, even though we have a lot more writers. I’ve been trying to catch up with these issues while overseeing the content schedule.

If you’ve emailed, it will take longer for me to get back to you. My focus is making sure I fix everyone’s account for good, so each individual request takes time. My hope is to get caught up on all older requests this week.

SYSTEM THOUGHTS

**At the halfway mark in August, here are the top five hitters of the month in the Pirates system, sorted by OPS:

  1. Tsung-Che Cheng, INF – 1.216
  2. Endy Rodriguez, C – 1.135
  3. Jack Brannigan, 3B – 1.035
  4. Jared Triolo, 3B – 1.025
  5. Hudson Head, OF – .957

**Here’s why I like the above list: You have everything you want to see. Endy Rodriguez is one of the top prospects in the system, and remains hitting after a promotion to Altoona. New third round pick Jack Brannigan is off to a hot start at a level that is probably too low for him, but you like to see the results. Jared Triolo’s bat has struggled this year, but continues surging in the second half. I’m most encouraged by Cheng and Head, who are both surging at the end of the season after an inconsistent season for both. In the lower levels it’s not how you start, but how you finish that’s important.

**Let’s look at the pitchers while we’re at it, isolating the guys with 10+ innings.

  1. Valentin Linarez – 12 IP, 0.00 ERA, 12:5 K/BB
  2. Luis Ortiz – 17 IP, 2.65 ERA, 18:3 K/BB
  3. Carmen Mlodzinski – 12.1 IP, 3.65 ERA, 13:3 K/BB
  4. Aaron Shortridge – 11.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 8:8 K/BB
  5. Justin Meis – 11.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 11:3 K/BB

**Linarez is a member of that young, talented Bradenton rotation. I like that Ortiz and Mlodzinski are both doing well at the end of the season. I see both with MLB upside, but see a reliever profile in both. The Pirates will almost certainly continue giving them starter innings this year, and you hope to see these types of results going forward.

**Keep the catching chain going. Henry Davis was promoted to Altoona earlier this year, opening up more opportunity for Endy Rodriguez, who took advantage of the playing time. With Rodriguez promoted, Abrahan Gutierrez is stepping up in Greensboro, hitting .300/.391/.475. Last Thursday-Saturday, he caught three games in a row for the first time since mid-May.

THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS

I’m heading up to Altoona this week to get coverage of the Double-A team. I’ll also be stopping through Pittsburgh. We’ve got some good player features this week, including one on Mike Burrows and a column on where the rebuild currently stands. Here are all of the premium articles on the site from last week, if you missed any.

System Features

Williams: Bridging the Gap From A-Ball to Pittsburgh

Greensboro is Where Players Start to Take Development Into the Real World

Prospect Roundtable

The Book on Oneil Cruz

The Book on Tucupita Marcano

The Book on Cal Mitchell

Player Features

Endy Rodriguez’s Bat Came Alive And Defense Improved When He Focused on Catching

Nick Gonzales Working Through Contact Issues

Dariel Lopez Continues To Answer Each Challenge Given

Johan Oviedo enjoys the opportunity to start again

Carter Bins reworks swing and discusses Triple-A adjustments

WEEKLY PIRATES QUIZ

One day they’ll be back.

First Pitch
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emjayinTN

I am sure you put plenty of thought into your decision regarding the Prospect Guide. My collection began with the First, the 2011 Prospect Guide. I have always viewed them as unique insights into kids who were worlds away, but the guides provided some personal information about them and their progress each year. It brought them closer – humanized them, made them family.

JimEastTennessee

If you get a chance, get a couple of hot dogs at Texas Hot dogs (preferably the downtown location). Traditional beverage is chocolate milk. Don’t miss ice cream at The Meadows, teaberry is an acquired taste (but delicious)
Tom and Joe’s is a must for breakfast

https://texashotdogs.com/locations/ (12th Avenue location)
http://www.tomandjoes.com/

James_Robert5

“New third round pick Jack Brannigan is off to a hot start at a level that is probably too low for him, but you like to see the results.”

The ACC is not better than the FSL. Maybe the SEC but not the ACC

James_Robert5

No one on this list will pitch above Low A this season.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/leader.cgi?type=pitch&id=d5a637cb

Next year maybe 5 or 10 will start above Low A.

steve_zielinski

I’ve been here since day two.

Danatural08

Proud to be in that core

Catch_22

Nirvana does an excellent cover of the man who sold the world. Cobian was awesome on unplugged

bianco599

My favorite from the unplugged album was Where Did You Sleep Last Night.

bianco599

That playlist is right up my alley. Love the Mad Season and STP shout. Huge fan of Layne Staley and Scott Weiland. KItchenware and Candybars was always a favorite by STP. Blow up the Outside World by Soundgarden is also a classic in my eyes. It appears your site rebuild is going significantly better than the Bucs. Keep up the good work.

bianco599

I used to burn copies of the AIC Unplugged CD just in case I ever lost the original. 4 walled world by temple of the dog was my favorite by them

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