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A New Direction

I’ve been thinking long and hard — note my general absence of late, and the lack of quality posts over the past few weeks — about the best way to share the information that I’ve accrued over the past 18 months on 2012 MLB Draft prospects, and, with less than four full weeks until the draft’s first day, I’m finally ready to submit my plan for the next month with my beautiful, adoring public. I’m feeling as much pressure as somebody who runs a free, infrequently read, one-man operation of a baseball draft website can feel because all kinds of pesky life commitments keep getting in the way of me getting some quality time working on the site. I don’t want the hard work of the last year and a half to go to waste simply because I don’t have a few extra hours each day to do exactly what I want to do with the site, so it is time to improvise.

At some point this week, a new page will go up on the site. The page will serve as an index of all of the 2012 Draft rankings that I’ve put together (largely behind the scenes) thus far. It will look a little something like this…

(Ongoing) 2012 MLB Draft Catcher Prospect Rankings

(Ongoing) 2012 MLB Draft First Base Prospect Rankings

(Ongoing) 2012 MLB Draft Second Base Prospect Rankings

…but with two major differences: 1) the titles above will all be hyperlinked to the pages that actually contain the rankings, and 2) there will be rankings for every position on the diamond. I’m still debating on whether or not I want to differentiate between college and high school lists, but at this point I’m inclined to throw every player together and let the chips fall where they may. This may be hard to imagine for now, but it will make a lot more sense by the end of the week.

For the first few days after the links go live, the rankings will look like a total mess. That’s by design, believe it or not. I really liked the way Rotoworld’s Josh Norris organized his 2012 NFL Draft coverage using a constantly evolving public Google document, and I think this site could use some of that same forward thinking. Rankings are fluid, and it is silly to continue to pretend otherwise. Note the word “Ongoing” at the start of each ranking. By adding names and information as I have the time, the site should be continuously refreshed with new information each and every day between now and the day before the draft. It may not appear that much is going on, as “new” posts won’t be popping up on the main page like before, but the links in the index will be constantly updated as new players are added.

One last important consideration that I can’t believe has taken me this long to get to: the rankings won’t just be a name and a number. This rankings will have a little more meat than previous lists on this site. That’s one of the things that makes me happiest about this plan. Instead of writing up paragraphs on each player in the top twenty (like last year), I can now go deeper with ranking guys by focusing on far easier to write and organize random player notes. In addition to the basic biographical information about each player, I’ll include as much from my personal scouting database — I don’t mean for that to sound fancy in any way; it’s just a Word doc that I use to jot down any random player note that comes to mind — as necessary along the way. Statistical information will also be provided whenever possible. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about (stats are current as of 5/2):

Florida JR C Mike Zunino: legitimate plus raw power, but expected to be above-average in-game professionally as length in swing could cause some issues on high velocity arms; plus arm strength; good athlete for his height and weight; plus defensive tools behind plate, surprisingly mobile; calling card is his power, but underrated as a natural hitter; value comes on field, obviously, but added bonus of being a take charge leader is nice for the position; more than just a flashy strong arm, also really accurate; swing can get too long at times which could expose him against good breaking balls going forward; also gets bonus points for calling own pitches; 6-2, 220 pounds

2011: .398/.469/.720 – 34 BB/49 K – 264 AB
2012: .365/.418/.713 – 17 BB/25 K – 167 AB

That quick blurb on Zunino may be all I wind up writing about the guy between now and draft day. Or maybe something will come up that will make me want to go back and add something new. Again, we’re stressing the ever-evolving idea of player evaluation here. The idea behind including notes on each player is to quickly sum up a prospect’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as (hopefully) sharing a general view of what kind of player we’re talking about. I’ll be sure to send out updates when player information is revised or rankings are changed. Updates will also be provided after I go through and get the most current statistics for each player.

*****

In all honesty, I’m not 100% sure this is going to work. I do, however, think the opportunity to approach draft coverage in a slightly different manner is worth the risk. I suppose in that way, I’m confident this will “work.” Sure, it won’t work in an increased traffic to the site kind of way — I’m 99.99% sure this approach will submarine any chance I had of increasing the number of eyeballs who come here, but I’ve come to accept and appreciate that covering the draft like I do only appeals to a very small subset of the baseball loving world — but if I can get as much information out as humanly possible between now and June 4, then this will have worked.

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