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Monday, December 5, 2022

First Pitch: The New New Pirates Prospects

Pirates Prospects has a new look.

The site uploaded a new design last week, aimed at better featuring everything we’ve been building up this year.

Pirates Prospects might as well be my Iron Man suit, because this must be Mk. 50 of the overall designs and approaches this site has had over the years. Perhaps the best approach to anything in life is constantly evolving from nothing — and what is that statement but a description of life itself?

This site constantly evolved from the starting point of nothing back in 2009. It was around June 2020 that I started drawing up ideas for a new Pirates Prospects from scratch, and we’ve finally arrived to the point where that version of Pirates Prospects is in existence.

Allow me to walk you through the new armor, with the disclaimer that I’m not Tony Stark. This site is now free, but we’re asking for Contributions of whatever amount on whatever schedule you wish, in lieu of subscriptions. These Contributions allow us to make this site possible, year-round, and will allow me to pay everyone for their work. If you can’t contribute, we hope that you still read the site and share our content. Maybe you can contribute in a future year, or maybe you refer people to the site along the way who end up contributing.

Overall, this is a new approach. I know that I have enough money to keep Pirates Prospects running for at least a year without any support. I’ve never viewed this as a business. It’s more akin to an art project. The site you’re on right now was inside my brain up until two weeks ago, when I sent John Dreker a picture of Post-It notes on a sliding glass door. One week ago, that design was in the process of being uploaded to the internet to be what you see today. Your support gets what I’ve got planned for this site, and helps build to the next tiers. Today, I’ll discuss what to expect from the new Pirates Prospects.

P2Daily

The 2023 season will be the 15th MLB season for Pirates Prospects. For most of those seasons, we had a consistent format: At least one article posting daily at midnight, reports on all live action throughout the year, and a recap of all the news and rumors.

Our DAILY page is meant to capture that original concept. Every night at midnight we will post P2Daily. Anthony Murphy will provide your daily reading content in the article, while I will give you updates throughout the site.

John Dreker keeps track of the Arizona Fall League and Winter League action. We also will be keeping up with MLB Hot Stove action related to the Pirates as the offseason kicks off.

The DAILY page is designed to quickly keep you updated on the Pirates, whether you check this site daily, or just occasionally throughout the week.

P2Weekly

In 2020, I closed down Pirates Prospects temporarily to start PittsburghBaseball.com. The original plan was that when Pirates Prospects returned, it would only be the current DAILY coverage, minus any MLB news.

At some point early this year, I decided to bring what was going to be the PittsburghBaseball.com concept over to Pirates Prospects. The result is Pirates Prospects Weekly, which can be found on the WEEKLY tab of the site’s menu.

This is the next evolution of Pirates Prospects. I don’t want to abandon what the site was, but I don’t want to limit it in any way. If our DAILY coverage is a classic blog format, then the WEEKLY section is designed to be an online magazine. The catch is that this one updates live every day at noon.

Pittsburgh Baseball will have a new approach in the future, though likely not until this time next year. Until then, it will host John Dreker’s Pittsburgh Baseball History.

Here are the updates you can expect to see each day, every week here on Pirates Prospects.

MONDAY: First Pitch

I’ve been using the name “First Pitch” for over a decade now as my regular column on the site. First Pitch was the original “P2Daily”. As such, it’s only fitting that it would kick off “P2Weekly” each week.

The purpose of First Pitch going forward will be to recap the previous week’s features and to preview the week to come. I’ll also have updates on the site, and all of the Sporcle quizzes, music playlists, MCU commentary, and any other non-baseball stuff I can squeeze in.

TUESDAY: Article Drops

I introduced this concept at the start of 2022. Every Tuesday we release our weekly features. These include Player Features from our live reporting, Scouting Reports from watching the players in action, or System Features on the state of the Pirates’ organization.

Throughout the site, these are going to be our best, most produced articles. This is where most of the money goes. If we had a paywall, these would be the premium articles. The information we are able to provide in these articles is information you can’t find anywhere else. This is our niche. We’re not going to be a source for the latest news, but we are going to be a source of understanding of what is happening in the Pirates’ organization and with all of the players inside.

See the note in Friday’s section about the changes to the comment section on Tuesday.

WEDNESDAY: Opinions

One issue that I have with news in general is there isn’t a clear divide between news and opinions. Pirates Prospects is a credentialed news outlet, though we don’t cover any news that’s truly important to the world. At best, we provide our readers with an escape from the important things — and we’ve seen in recent years how much that’s necessary. However, we cover real people, and I take this site’s position and responsibility seriously.

As such, we are separating our news and opinions. That’s not to say we won’t have educated and guiding opinions within our news stories. For example, it would have been difficult for me to do a feature on Endy Rodriguez back in August telling you that he looks like the best prospect in the Pirates’ system without including my own opinion in some form.

The articles on Tuesday will be our original features that are based on reporting. These features will be driven by the reporting, but guided by our analysis. The articles on Wednesday will be reactions and analysis based on what we already know. The ratio of opinions will be much higher. These will be columns from Wilbur Miller and myself, though you might only get one of us most weeks. My writing on the site will be limited to Tuesday and Wednesday features, plus First Pitch.

THURSDAY: Roundtable

From Wednesday through Friday, we have a run of opinions. On Thursday, things are turned over to the contributors on the site in our Roundtable feature. Each week I ask a question about the Pirates, and each week we see how many different viewpoints the writers on this site can generate.

The idea isn’t to intentionally generate different views. The idea is to illustrate how many different ways there are to view the many different aspects of this game. Even a question as simple as “Who were your biggest surprises and disappointments of the 2022 season?” can generate an entire spectrum of responses, while still leaving opinions on the table for you, the readers…

FRIDAY: Discussion

On Friday, we turn the discussion over to you. Jeff Reed, aka, Bucs’N’Pucks in the comment section, leads the weekly discussion on the site. Every Friday, Jeff kicks things off with some thoughts of his own. From there, the discussion in the comments is open.

These discussions, as well as any P2Daily discussion thread, are meant to be open to any topic. That’s important, because we’re making one change to the comment section. Going forward, our Tuesday articles will not include comment sections. That’s a personal choice that I’m making from a production standpoint. A lot of the Tuesday articles take hours of work — interviews, transcribing, research, videos, and so forth. As mentioned above, these are the articles where we are providing information that other outlets don’t have. There’s usually nothing that can be added in the comment section by anyone, other than opinions — even if that opinion comes from another outlet.

Opinions are being moved to Wednesday-Friday. The Weekly Discussion will be linked each day on P2Daily, and will provide an area for all reader opinions. Think of it like our op-ed section. This article is your area to talk about anything you’ve seen on the site in the past week, or topics you haven’t seen.

Part of the strength of this site is that we have an amazing community in the comment section. As someone who has never lived in Pittsburgh, I know how difficult it is to find places for good Pirates discussion when you live outside of the area. My intent is to harness this site’s ability for highly informed Pirates discussion, and focus it on Wednesday-Friday — following our original reporting on Tuesday each week.

SATURDAY: Pirates Winter Report

The weekend is the slowest time on the site, historically, and Saturday is the slowest day. There is one thing that has always worked on Saturdays: Notebooks.

Every Saturday during the offseason, John Dreker will write the new Pirates Winter Report. The article will highlight one player who is currently playing winter ball, followed by an Around the World section that recaps each league and the Pirates prospects in action.

The feature made its debut this past Saturday, which was our lowest traffic day of this past week. Despite that, this feature was one of the most read of the week. That’s encouraging. Ideally, you are enjoying your Saturday, staying away from screens and devices, and living life. But, I’m glad we’ve got a Saturday update that gives you something to read if you’re checking up on the Pirates.

This feature will be replaced with a similar Draft feature once the Winter Leagues are finished.

SUNDAY: Pirates Business

If you missed it, check out this awesome feature on Ethan Hullihen by Jason Mackey of the Post-Gazette.

Ethan has been writing for Pirates Prospects since 2019. In fact, one of the first big ways that I started handing over bits of control of this site was when I let him be the voice on payroll and business moves. One of the benefits of this site is that I can give him a platform to do the thing that he does better than anyone — and that’s kind of the overall concept on this site.

Every Sunday, Ethan will provide an update on the Pirates from a business standpoint — keeping track of the payroll, roster moves, and all of the obscure rules that only Ethan knows.

When this site started, I had payroll and roster trackers, and updates on the prospects in the system. The site doesn’t need to track payroll, but an accurate, independent calculation is a service that I believe Pirates fans should be provided. No one does that better than Ethan. He would do that for free, but I’m glad that the support this site receives allows me to pay him for his extremely detailed work. Ethan will wrap up our WEEKLY coverage every Sunday at noon.

First Pitch continues below…

Weekly Pirates Quiz

Get your memory going this week with this massive quiz looking at the Top 100 WAR seasons in Pirates history since 1901. How many did you get? Leave your score in the comments below.

First Pitch continues below…

The Guide and Resources

If you’re looking for an update on our annual prospect book, or John Dreker’s history book, check out the GUIDE link. There’s really not much I can say about the book status that isn’t said there. The short of it is that The 2022 Guide became The 2022-23 Guide, and will be released by the end of this year. Check the link for more details.

If you’re reading this on Monday, then while you’re reading this, I’ll be starting the final push on The Guide.

The GUIDE link is actually our future Resources page. In addition to being home to our books, this page will provide links to all of our future resources coming to the site. Current plans: Rankings, Payroll, Draft Tracker, International Signing Tracker, Player Pages, Depth Chart.

First Pitch continues below…

Fuquay Vinyl Playlist

I listen to a lot of music each week. I also listen to a lot of new music.

I realized a few years ago that one of the biggest sacrifices with this job — especially when I’m on the road reporting — is that it puts me in a bubble that makes it difficult to seek out new music. For some reason, there’s a barrier we all have to cross before we hear a new song. I’ve been spending the last few years trying to break down that barrier for myself.

Each week, I’ll give you a custom playlist. It’s usually a mix of what I’ve heard the week prior from various sources. For example, some of the songs this week came from listening to DJ Ames on TikTok, who is local to me in Florida. While planning out this week’s content on Sunday, I was vibing to DJ Ames playing some old school jams. I threw a few into the playlist.

The goal of this section is to allow you to benefit from all of my music searching. Yeah, you’re here for baseball, but maybe I can provide some of you with a little bonus to go home with. In all honesty, I’ve always had a stronger connection to music than baseball, so this section is just a byproduct of my life. Perhaps that byproduct can introduce you to new artists, or other creators highlighting new artists.

This week I’ve mixed in a lot of my favorite sleeper album releases from 2022. I broke those down below. First Pitch continues below that…

The Dip – Sticking With It

This album has an amazing throwback sound that will make you surprised it was released in 2022. It’s the type of album you can throw on and listen to on a lazy sunny afternoon — but don’t expect to remain lazy for long.

Maggie Rogers – Surrender

If you like Phoebe Bridgers, you’ll like Maggie Rogers. In fact, the two released a cover of “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls recently. Rogers released her third album in July. I was really into “Punisher” by Phoebe Bridgers in 2020, and “Little Oblivions” by Julien Baker in 2021. I haven’t listened to “Surrender” much, but so far I like it for the same reasons.

The 1975 – Being Funny in a Foreign Language

This album almost instantly became a top five candidate for me this year. It’s been one of my favorite albums over the last month. I haven’t listened to much of The 1975, but after this album I’ll be going back and exploring their collection.

Danger Mouse, Black Thought – Cheat Codes

I’m a big fan of Danger Mouse. His collab with MF DOOM was one of my favorite DOOM projects. His “Grey Album” — a mashup of “The White Album” by The Beatles and “The Black Album” by Jay-Z — is one of the most prized vinyl records I own. He collabed with Black Thought of The Roots on Cheat Codes, with many other great artists joining them for one of my favorite Danger Mouse projects. The highlight for me is the song with Run the Jewels. Killer Mike made a lot of appearances in the playlist this week with his new song release.

Vince Staples – RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART

I hadn’t heard Vince Staples until the last two years, and he’s been busy in those years churning out some really good albums. By the time I started listening to his 2021 self-titled album, he had already released the follow-up. I’ve listened to RAMONA PARK more than last year’s album, and recommend either if you like more of an R&B vibe.

Freddie Gibbs – $oul $old $eparately

I haven’t listened to this album much. I found it by the song with Pusha T, whose “It’s Almost Dry” is one of my top five albums this year. The collabs with Rick Ross, Anderson .Paak, and Raekwon are solid, and I’m a fan of the low baritone flow from Gibbs.

R.A.P. Ferreira – 5 to the Eye with Stars

R.A.P. Ferreira’s 2020 album, Purple Moonlight Pages, was one of the most influential albums for me over the last few years. That album started the process of me thinking about my job in terms of an artist, which has helped me to create what this site is today. His music is more akin to spoken word poetry, and he churns out at least a new album a year. The latest has a collab with the lead singer from the band Future Islands.

This Week on Pirates Prospects

Article Drops return tomorrow with our Yearly Awards. We will be naming our Minor League Player of the Year, as well as our Breakout Prospect of the Year.

We will also have a few player features each week, wrapping up our reporting from the 2022 season.

Hopefully we will give you plenty of things to read while you are in line to vote tomorrow! Vote tomorrow!

Support

Pirates Prospects has always been fueled 100% by reader support — whether through a high traffic site that relied on ads, or a full paywall that was supported by over 10,000 subscribers between 2015-2022. With our paywall down, the site is free for everyone. All I ask is that you Contribute at some point in the future to help support our work. We’re not going to impose any pricing limits, content restrictions, or timelines on anyone — though we will have suggested prices and regular support drives.

In reality, no one needs this much information on the Pittsburgh Pirates. But no one needs three hours of new music a week, either. Our actual human needs are really very slim. Beyond that, we are just a collection of interests. I’m honored that so many people who are interested in baseball and the Pittsburgh Pirates have made this site a regular destination. My hope is that the continued goodwill from our readers will allow me to continue growing this site in the ways I have planned.

And I’m glad you’re finally seeing the plans I’ve been working on for the last two years for this site’s future. Because it means I can start working on what’s next. I’ll talk more about that next week on First Pitch. I really appreciate everyone who is interested in this site enough to read through this update.

Help

Have any issues with the site or your account? Check out our new Help page.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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jitman14

I find your hip hop fandom to be pretty inline with my own but couldn’t disagree more on the Freddie Gibbs/Rick Ross song. It’s my least favorite on the album and I usually skip to the next track when Ross comes in.
Rec for next week: Switches on Everything by Westside Gunn f. Run the Jewels and Stove God Cooks

mpg43952

I was listening to Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris, Jesus wept, I’m old!

John Dreker

I got 98 on the quiz because I got stuck on the 2014 third baseman of all things and didn’t realize the clock was running low. I know I write the history side every day so some of the older players are on my mind more often, but that was an odd one to waste probably three minutes just thinking about AND not getting it. I didn’t even look at the other four I missed.

Wilbur Miller

Huh, I also got 98 and got stuck on the same guy.

There are a couple pitchers in there that just weren’t gonna happen.

John Dreker

That’s so strange. I just had random third basemen popping in my head who were obviously not the answer. I should have come back to it, but it was bothering me and then next thing I know the answer popped up. It didn’t help that I had to scroll down to see it, so I couldn’t see the clock running down

GlypheNotes

I can’t fully tell you how much I value

we are separating our news and opinions

but I will try…

I think it’s an increasing problem among the fans’ discourse that, at the source of the information, lines are blurred when reporters share their own opinions amongst the measured/quoted/witnessed facts. I have seen it set up VERY uncharitable interpretations and bad assumptions from what is being reported.

Obviously with staffing crunches the local publications are asking reporters to do both. It’s problematic, but that’s their assignment nowadays. It’s exacerbated by the feedback loop of “engagement” and other human incentives to sensationalize.

In my opinion, this approach to distinguish between reporting and opining by the day of the week is a smart solution to try.

Catch_22

Fangraphs has their top 50 FA’s…Quintana is ranked 26th with a predicted salary of 2/24. That should be very attainable for the Pirates and would be a nice gesture towards the fanbase.

Nice little Michael Scott reference in the Q write-up.

TNBucs

A few weeks ago I said I liked the idea of adding Taylor Rogers to the back of our pen. Here’s what Ben Clemens wrote in his chat about the top 50 today:

2:04Connor: Based on what you think they’ll receive, what free agents do you think will be the best investments? And which ones do you think may get overpaid?
2:04Ben Clemens: So, this is a fraught question since I made the projections
2:04Ben Clemens: I think Taylor Rogers is getting unfairly dinged, which is why he’s higher on my list than his contract would imply
2:04Ben Clemens: I think he’s just an excellent reliever

TNBucs

I like the idea but there are a lot of options with somewhat similar AAVs: Quintana, Anderson, Manaea, Heaney, Eflin, Walker, Taillon, Perez, Kluber, Cueto, Stripling, Wacha, Clevinger, and Syndergaard (listed roughly in the order of excitement I’d feel if we signed that player). These guys are ranked between 16 and 42 in Fangraphs’ list and should be within the Pirates price range. I’d guess, though, that Cherington will be looking for the next Quintana or Anderson, someone he can sign for one year and less than $5MM.

Anthony

I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a 2-3 year commitment to one of those guys.

GlypheNotes

If I ran the team, I would sign Quintana and also pick up next year’s Quintana/Anderson.

Wilbur Miller

You’re hired.

AdministrativeSky236

Tbh this is a reasonable course of action for a pirates’ team trying to win. A starter for ~10 AAV/2 years, a one year rebound candidate for a mil or two, and a 3-5 mil pen arm puts our staff in position to be roughly top half of the league

RAS TN

Now just think how much easier it would be to sign him if he had finished the year in a Pirate uniform…Alas, we will never know…

GlypheNotes

I don’t think it would be easier at all. If you hadn’t traded Quintana, he might be bitter you cheated him of a playoff run. You could offer him the qualifying $19.65M, but then you’re vastly overypaying the $12M/per projected by FG.

What they did might be the best way to sign him to 2023. You helped him pitch well. Gave him a chance to play for a winner. And introduced him to a clubhouse he might like to compete with after a year of roster maturation.

Coercion is not a very sustainable model for winning. Players don’t want to be trapped, and some free agents negotiate with an agreed expectation that they’ll be traded if the team isn’t in the hunt.

RAS TN

What in the world are you talking about???

Catch_22

Honestly, I don’t think that will factor in for Q. He knows the business of baseball

RAS TN

Of course, he does, but the old adage a bird in the hand…

Catch_22

Kiermaier is predicted to get 2/10
Josh Bell 2/18

Time to be a real GM this winter, Ben. LFG!

Anthony

I know KK recently had surgery, but I’m a huge advocate for going with defense up the middle at C and CF, then getting a professional hitter for 1B.

NMR

Mike Clevinger on a 1-yr prove it contract would be hard to pass up.

AdministrativeSky236

Probably the highest ceiling option we could realistically afford

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Is it Friday yet? I just got done making my case

Catch_22

Hey man, good to see you around.

Clevinger, I like it…probably more than Manaea.

RAS TN

Kiermaier doesn’t play a whole season

Bell been there and done that would be his response to Pirates…

Catch_22

Kevin Young was good, but I don’t remember him being 5.3 fWAR good! That’s excellent for a 1bmen.

ST1300b

I just want to note for all those, and many folks here also, who say rookies aren’t able to contribute to a winning squad that Jeremy Peña just won World Series mvp.
My point is that changing the expectations of rookies should be a priority for this club. This isn’t babysitting 101 are you here to win or not?
Maybe with higher expectations and better preparation those young players can lead the team out of its long losing ways.
Don’t say it can’t be done.

Anthony

I’m not sure what you’re referring to here, but rookies surrounded by rookies versus rookies surrounded by established veterans are two completely different scenarios.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Not to be lost though, he turned 25 in September. He’s a full year older than Oneil Cruz.

Catch_22

You do realize that Pena was the first rookie hitter to win WS MVP?

ST1300b

I do however we are continually making comments about why they can’t be successful due to being young but that’s an excuse.
Good is good if you have quality coaching.
I do agree that surrounding quality youth with quality veterans is absolutely helpful and players like Key and BRey need to learn to lead.

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