Site Updates

Site Updates: A Minor Adjustment to Our Original Pirates Content

Site Updates: A Minor Adjustment to Our Original Pirates Content

Last night I was in the stands in West Virginia, getting some video on right-handed pitcher Mitch Keller, fresh off watching Jameson Taillon make a start in the majors the day before. While I was watching Keller pitch, a thought occurred to me — a little over five years earlier, I was in the exact same spot, doing the exact same thing watching and getting video of Taillon pitching in West Virginia.

How Keller compares to Taillon is an article for another day (tomorrow, actually, and I think you might be surprised at the comparison). But this isn’t about comparing one of the best young pitchers in the lower levels to Taillon. It’s about discussing a continuation of this site’s goal from day one, and a minor adjustment we’re making going forward.

This site has always been about getting original content. That started on day one, when I was attending Lynchburg Hillcats games to get live reports on Pedro Alvarez, Jordy Mercer, Jeff Locke, Josh Harrison, Chase d’Arnaud, Matt Hague, Justin Wilson, and many others. It continued in following years with reports throughout the system, and then went to the extreme last year when we switched to a subscription site. We’ve always tried to cover things that no one else in the Pittsburgh media was covering.

The last two weeks have been all about that. Last week I was in Morgantown, which you probably know by now, based on all of the features that have hit the site this week. This week I was covering West Virginia, with a few big features lined up for next week on the top pitching prospects here. Today, I leave for Bristol to see the rest of the 2016 draft picks. As a result, we will have a lot of features on the 2016 draft picks, plus follow-ups from the 2015 and 2014 picks, and some of the top international players from recent years.

The biggest argument against a subscription site is that there is free content elsewhere. But sites offering free content don’t even know about some of these players we’re covering, and they definitely don’t spend resources to cover the lower levels as much as we do. That lower level coverage pays off for us in the short-term, because we’re informed on every prospect in the system. It also pays off in the long-term, as it builds the foundation for our future prospect coverage, and is a big reason why our “The Book on…” series is so in depth when a prospect gets called up to the majors. We don’t just start paying attention when they reach the Pirates. We start paying attention when they join the organization.

Too Much Content?

We actually have a rare problem on the site, where we might actually have too much content. Other sites might give you one or two prospect updates a week. We usually give two featured articles per day, plus our regular First Pitch and Morning Reports, the Prospect Watch with live reports, and any other news that comes out. As a result, it’s very easy to miss an article or two along the way.

I know that some of you read every article when it goes up on the site. Actually, I hear from a lot of people who say they check the site every hour. But with the way the site is set up now, if you miss a day, you might return to 5-10 articles to catch up on, plus the 5-10 articles going up the day you return. That’s up to 20 articles to read in a day, and that’s only if you miss one day on the site.

This is a great problem to have. I don’t think any other site could dream of a situation where they have “too much” prospect content. Right now, my preliminary article schedule has articles running through August 26th, and that’s mostly with my articles from this trip (I don’t add articles from other writers to the schedule until they’re filed, or at least in the process of being written). Once we factor in the other writers on this site, we’re probably booked with features through September, and that’s before I get back down to Bradenton for a few Marauders and GCL features.

At the same time, I want to make sure everyone gets a chance to read the articles. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, but really started thinking about it yesterday. The Morning Report went up at 8:00, as usual. My weekly podcast with David Todd went up at 9:00. Then we had features on Cam Vieaux and Austin Shields going up at 10 and 11, followed by Pirates pre-game coverage at noon. So if you logged on around noon, the previous night’s First Pitch was already off the featured spot, and the featured articles were pushed down to the number two and three spots.

We’re definitely not going to scale back in content in the long-run, but I am going to try something over the next few weeks. I’m going to spread the articles out, and limit how many go up per day. It will probably be one feature per day. This way we give a bigger focus to each individual article, rather than giving you a bunch of articles to read per day. This approach makes sense, as we put a lot of time and effort into making each prospect report a quality article, and I feel that throwing a bunch of them at you each week can take away from or hide the quality of those articles. I also don’t want to push the Prospect Watch off the top so quick, since we have live reports and some great writeups each night that would probably work as individual articles themselves.

As usual, I’d appreciate any feedback on this change. This is the time of year I like to experiment with new approaches on the site, to see how they do. Just know that you’re not losing any articles. The features that I’m going to do in Bradenton on Kevin Kramer and Connor Joe, that would have originally come in early-September will now just come a week or two later in mid-September. We will also still have the same reaction and time sensitive articles, like the update from earlier this week on Max Moroff playing outfield, or information on Austin Shields after his debut, and that will be in addition to the daily feature.

Our goal here is to provide you with the best content on the Pirates’ system that we can, while also making the site as easy as possible for you to access that content. I’m hopeful that this will make it easier to get every feature we have on the site.

Sharing Buttons

In the past, we had buttons on the site that allowed you to quickly share articles to all social media networks. Then there was an update which prevented this feature from working. We added it back again this week, trying a few different spots. There was some feedback that the position of the bar was blocking articles, which was strange, as we didn’t experience that on any of our tests (sometimes the problems would come up for others on the exact same system type that we tested, where everything worked fine). I think we’ve finally got a good position for this.

The point of this is obvious: If there’s an article you really like, we want to make it easier for you to share it with others. As a subscription site, that is huge for us. People can’t just stumble on to an article and read it. They need to hear about it from others. Before we were a subscription site, and when we had the share bar up, we got a lot of activity. Since then, there seems to be a worry that we don’t want our content shared (and I know this is the case, based on a few conversations I’ve had with people asking specifically if they could share information from our articles).

I want to make it clear that I’ve always been fine with this, as long as it’s fair use. Obviously, don’t copy large parts of the articles over to other sites, or even entire articles. But giving a key bit of information, and linking to the article is totally fine, and preferred. That’s how we can get word out about our content, and get new subscribers in.

The thing that sucks about the last two years as a subscription site is that we’ve seen a massive increase in live coverage and quality reports on the prospects in the system, but it’s also been more difficult to show that to people who were originally on the fence about subscribing. We run ads in all of the minor league cities, and in Pittsburgh, but you spreading the word about our articles is the best promotion we can get.

Subscribe

If you aren’t already a subscriber, give us a try. We’ve got a lot of great content this month on the best players in the lower levels, plus your subscription gets you access to our full archive. And if you’re already a subscriber, but want to give a subscription to a friend, our gift subscriptions are always available for any occasion.

Feedback

If you have any feedback, whether it’s a problem with your account, an issue with the site, or any other questions or comments, you can e-mail me at tim@piratesprospects.com.

  • stich09

    Tim, is First Pitch freely available?

    Also, the popular and latest features on the right are great to help sort through stuff that you missed, so just make sure those are working and well implemented.

    • It is.

      Those are also working. But there’s a severe drop off when an article moves further down that list, or moves off the feature section.

      If it moves off the feature section of the home page (which can happen after four or five hours some days), then there’s a massive drop off in traffic. And if it goes off the homepage (which can be less than 24 hours), the traffic almost dies. Having it on the recent area on the side extends that a bit, but we publish so much that this might only extend it to about 36 hours.

      We spend a lot of time and money getting these features together, so I’m trying to make it where they get more time in the spotlight, and so that you guys don’t miss anything. This also stems from the fact that we get so many questions that would have been answered by articles that were written a day or two before, where people just didn’t even see the article.

      • stich09

        So while I like the layout of the site, could shrinking the amount of space each article takes on the main page be an option, along with a dedicated “features” section like there is for first pitch and morning report?

        Also, there are like 5 ways to get to the latest morning report and first pitch, maybe chop them out of the bottom section on the homepage? (Like keep them in the top set of articles, but since they have dedicated selections below, chop them from the “all articles” area. I know that hurts the utility of that section, but people will need to go to the morning report and first pitch section for those articles. Also, the latest articles preserves the “all articles” notion.

        • It’s really difficult to chop things from the bottom section. That shows all articles, except stuff in the featured section.

          We might revisit an adjusted site design in the off-season. Not an extreme change, but doing some of the things you mentioned, and a few other ideas we have.

          • Daryl Restly

            Tim,

            Keep up the great work with the website. A quick question for you. Seeing as how the Pirates as a franchise have gone from practically the laughing-stock of MLB to one of the more respected franchises in a very short time that runs parallel with your website, do you feel there is any correlation between the two. Do you feel as though your website has created a media critique of the franchise that wasn’t there previously. I followed those teams from ’93 to ’12 and it seemed as though at times they had some talent, but never enough talent to compete day in / day out or even for that matter year in / year out. We’ve now had three consecutive post-season appearances and are in the running for a fourth. It’s almost as if, because of the presence of your website, the Pirates know they must make the effort to scout for talent, draft and develop talent, acquire talent to fill needs via trade & free agency and field a competitive team. I can remember the Cam Bonifay days when they talked about the 5 year plan and that basically never materialized. Nearly all of the other regimes prior to Huntingdon / Hurdle dating back to ’93 failed miserably. Obviously, the talent, at times simply wasn’t there for some of those years, but you would hope that the front office knew what they were doing with the draft, yet they didn’t. Or else they would still be there. If there had been more scrutiny / media coverage of how the Pirates drafted and developed players during the 20 year losing season streak, who knows, maybe we wouldn’t have had to endure that drought.

            • stich09

              Surely it was the new ownership and GM in 2007…

            • I’ll have to read and answer this when I get to Bristol.

            • “It’s almost as if, because of the presence of your website, the Pirates know they must make the effort to scout for talent, draft and develop talent, acquire talent to fill needs via trade & free agency and field a competitive team.”

              This isn’t the case. It’s actually the opposite. In 2008, I noticed that this group might actually be interested in developing a farm system, which was never the case with DL. So I started this site to follow some of the prospects, essentially buying in early to the idea that they would really take this route.

              There was no one covering the prospects at the time, outside of a few small minor league reports where beat writers would post the box scores. So the growth of this site matching the growth of the team was because this site started at the right time, and grew as the interest in the farm system grew, which was all because they chose to build from the ground up.

      • dr dng

        “We spend a lot of time and money getting these features together, so I’m trying to make it where they get more time in the spotlight, and so that you guys don’t miss anything.”

        Ok, that makes sense

        • To give you an example of what went into the Keller feature:

          1. I spent maybe 30 minutes researching his recent starts and gathering notes before I even got to WV.
          2. Made sure I stayed five nights in WV to guarantee I’d see him (five nights of the rental car, plus hotel fees).
          3. Talked with him for about 5-10 minutes my first day in WV, catching up and following up on his recent progress.
          4. Talked with Esposito for about five minutes on his recent progress before his start.
          5. Watched his start, recorded and edited video.
          6. Talked with Keller, Esposito, and Ford about his start. Also talked with Ford about his recent progress and mechanics.
          7. Transcribed all of the interviews (usually takes twice the amount of time as the interviews) and wrote the article (took about two hours).

          So for this one feature, there were five different interviews totaling about 25-30 minutes (50-60 minutes added on for transcribing), plus time spent editing video (about 15 minutes…I don’t count recording the video, since that’s part of game coverage), then about two hours to write the article, and all of the costs to make sure I was covering his start (which can also be applied to Hinsz and Hearn, although I did have to make a last minute booking to make sure I saw him after a rain postponement).

          This feature took an estimated 4 hours total to get the info, and write it up, plus the money spent to get the coverage (probably a few hundred dollars, since Keller was one of three main reasons I was going to WV). Some smaller features might take 1.5 hours at most.

          It has been in the #1/2 spot most of the day. As of this writing, I’m about to upload a Glasnow update, then First Pitch. That pushes it to #4. Morning Report pushes it to spot 5 of 5 at 8 AM tomorrow. If we did a second feature today, then this massive article would already be at spot 5 (which sees a decline from 2-3-4), and would be out of the top section less than 24 hours after posting it. Or, we’d have to decide to remove the other feature, or the Prospect Watch with 3 live reports, or FP/MR (they’re featured elsewhere, but there is a drop if they’re not at the top for a certain amount of time).

          You probably didn’t need that much info, but I figured you and others might be interested to see what went on behind the scenes with that particular article.

          On a side note, it was great meeting you last week in Morgantown!

  • Lee Foo Young

    I wouldn’t mind if you put up TEN articles a day. :)

  • Eli K

    Limit? :(

    • We’re still talking about a minimum of five articles per day. Most sites give you one, and none on the minors.

      • Eli K

        Five a day is definitely a good amount!! I’m just being greedy haha thanks for all the work!!

  • David B

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I read #$*&ing everything.

    • Bobby L

      I would think many of us do. Night miss something on occassion but usually check the latest list.

      Maybe I’m in a small minority, but if I am paying to read articles, is it fair to me to allow articles to be linked?

  • DigitalDan

    I like it just the way it is. I look for the date listed with the post. When I look for the links, I look for everything posted today. I don’t think there is a problem.

  • Joe Nastasi

    Don’t over think it Tim great site. The hard core will scroll through everything & some others will skip by some no matter what time they go up.

    • The thing is, almost everyone in the comments is a hardcore reader. But that’s about 1-2% of the site. I’m making a small change that impacts a large majority of readers who are silent.

      Maybe they’ll continue to skip by, but I wanted to try something different to see if that’s avoidable.

      There has never been a blueprint for this site, or another site that does the same thing that we can follow. So I try these to see what works.

      The 2-3 features per day was left over from the old days where we focused on flooding the site for page views and ad dollars. That’s not the strategy anymore.

      • forkball

        I’m not sure, but it seems that often there are less write-ups on the weekends. I would suggest putting a feature article on a Sunday and also on off-days. Love the site – read almost everything! (Even most of the comments!)

        • We still do features on the weekends. Traffic is also always way down on the weekends, regardless of what we post (based on years of trial and error). So we don’t post as much then. Still at least 4-5 articles a day though.

          • forkball

            Maybe consider dropping in that article that might get hidden during the week on Sunday AM. I always wake up early looking for the Sunday paper! I enjoy it all. When I was young (the 60’s), my dad would order the Post-Gazette. (We live in Maine.) At night we would listen to KDKA through the static. He would love your work – I feel spoiled. And now I can watch every game. Amazing changes. John would appreciate all the old Pirate memorabilia that litters my house.

  • rohabi

    It would be nice to see this site spread out its articles a little more. I may be in the minority on this but it does get tough to keep up with all the stories with a full time job and three young kids. I do like reading most of the stuff and do some times have to leave something for later and then I end up forgetting about it altogether.

    Unbelievable information, though. Wow. Couldn’t ask for anything better.

  • Y2JGQ2

    I’ll admit there are a LOT of articles. The main problem here Tim isn’t too many articles, rather it is the ease of us finding the articles that we actually want to read. Some do want to read all the articles, but for others…..we may only want the MLB coverage, the prospect watch and the first pitch for example, plus any transactional updates or rumors, I think we all like getting updates on injured players and such quickly. Don’t slow down the articles, but spreading them out or releasing them at specific times of the day routinely would probably be useful, as would having a simple additional page which sorted all articles (just the titles) by date only…..that way if I take a vacation, I can come up and pull up the page, click on the date I left, and read everything I missed in order. There is no way to currently do this, and it is a bit frustrating.

    • Check the menu bar at the top for the breakdown of all the categories.

      We’re also going to start separating MLB articles out from minor league articles, instead of having them all under Analysis.

      • michael t

        Now there is a good idea! It may help keep commentary on point to the article.
        I know we tend to jump from a prospect article to comments about the big club issues all the time.

      • John Allen Habel III

        Would creating a separate site for the major league club help?

        • That would be impossible with the way the membership site is set up.

      • Y2JGQ2

        Right, but that’s not what i was saying…….don’t really want a breakdown by category. Want an option by DATE

        • Those are by category, and then by date in each category.

          And if you go to the bottom of the homepage, you can keep clicking the “Next” button to see all articles in chronological order.

          Or, if you click the categories, you get that same feature, but only for those categories (Transactions, Injury Updates, etc).

          • Y2JGQ2

            No Tim, I understand…….. I’m just saying i’d prefer something which is simple and just lists all the articles posted so I can search by date only. Click on 8/12 for example, and a list of all articles posted that day comes up. Some categories have updates some days and not others so its difficult to easily find what is missed. Its a lot of hunt and peck. You said you wanted feedback so i’m giving it…..

      • runningfrog

        I echo Y2JGQ2’s comments. My biggest issue with the site is it gets hard for me to find what I am looking for. I don’t want less content. But I want it to be easier to find.

        There are lots of options of ways to do this. But one I would most like to see is a consistent weekly recap post that has direct links to all the content from that week (and probably a one-sentence teaser about it). That recap post should be very easy to find, as opposed to buried in a chronological stream or appended to the end of another post. “Week in Review” or “This Week in Pirates Prospects” or whatever catchy title you like. Where a reader could see at a glance a list of all the week’s articles and dive into the ones that interest them most.

        One other comment I would have is that I know sometimes it’s just a matter of getting a post up. But I’ve seen lots of times where the content I wanted was an “oh by the way” addition to an article that was not related much at all. As much as I try to read everything, life sometimes gets in the way. And I will choose three or four articles to quickly catch up on based on the teasers. When updates on Bradenton guys are buried at the end of an article theoretically about injuries to the big-league bullpen it gets messy trying to keep up.

        • “There are lots of options of ways to do this. But one I would most like to see is a consistent weekly recap post that has direct links to all the content from that week”

          We do this each week with the Sunday First Pitch.

          “When updates on Bradenton guys are buried at the end of an article theoretically about injuries to the big-league bullpen it gets messy trying to keep up.”

          We always try to separate that stuff out. The only time we mix updates is in the notes articles, and you’ll see “Pirates Notes” or “Prospect Notes” ahead of them. We keep them separate as much as possible (difficult for Indy guys who impact the majors).

          The search function also is good to find specific info about one player.

  • jedeweese

    I prefer multiple articles, but then, I usually check at least 6x day; regardless, keep up the quality work!

  • michael t

    There are some articles that are too good to get lost in the volume…….and I have become a big user of the search engine on the site.
    For example Taillon is such a big story with his arsenal of pitches and the evolution of them. Nobody in Bucco fandom has the insight we subscribers received as a result of the June 19th article on Taillon, which I just reread after searching “grip”……as in two seam vs four seam grip.

  • John Allen Habel III

    I was actually going to suggest you start expanding your coverage by focusing on each of the minor leagues start with low a league and bring in visitors from other teamz. Write stories about the other teams playing and continue to follow ex buccos as the progress

  • buccotime57

    How much do you follow other teams prospects? I imagine you also see them at a variety of levels in your travels.

    • I’m usually very focused on the Pirates, and only really notice if it’s a big prospect. I notice guys more in Bradenton, since I see those games much more often than when I’m on the road.

  • dr dng

    I don’t know, I sure like the site as it is.

    Keep up the good work

    Dave

  • JoseGuillensArm

    This site is tremendous and worth every penny. The issue I have is not with the site, but rather the iOS app in regards to the prospect watch. I normally use the app to read articles, but the issue with the codes forces me to open a browser. Not a major issue, but I was wondering if any progress has been made?

    • It’s probably going to be an off-season fix, since it requires a lot of programming in some form or another.

  • I’m just happy that you and all of the PP team do what you do. Keep up the excellent work!

  • RobForsyth

    Tim, I spend two to three hours a day reading on the net and only a portion of it is sports. I’m a sports nut, but i have a variety of other national and international interests as well. If you decide to cut back on the number of articles you present per day I can live with it.

  • st1300b

    I’ll have to admit that most days I wait for the next articles like an addict… Maybe spacing them out will help me kick that habit a bit.
    Not sure if that’s good for the site but probably good for me!
    I would say though if the articles are spaced more that spicing them up a bit with pictures or video would add to the overall reading experience.
    As always I wouldn’t know where else to go if not for P2 so keep up the awesome work.

  • jmpanza

    I agree with you, Tim. I missed a day of reading from this site the other day and I came back to 7 articles to read. Not complaining here though. Do what you gotta do to make your job easier.

  • Lawrence S

    Luv this site…excellent work guys…

  • Great site. Love the content. Been reading this site for several years now (Proud Top Prospect Subscriber) and happy to see you still show the same passion to grow and better the sight. I can agree with your premise of the article, I like to check the articles at lunch during work or periodically during the day, when I miss a day or check too late it becomes difficult for me to read all of the articles all at once and I just lose them.

    One recommendation is a daily podcast may be the best way to bridge the gap of content viewership without the issue of lowering quantity of information. The podcast could work as a daily morning commute podcast, quickly reading out the morning report or the performances from the night before, then highlighting what may have been one or two articles in their own. Since this is simply reading aloud what you would have written, or even just reading from notes without having to prepare an article. I’m not saying this has to be very long, simply that it could be a different way to ensure high customer interaction, and instilling a sense of habit which may correlate with longer subscriptions and more sharing.

    I know you stray away from podcasts due to the high editing time, perhaps since this would be dominated by simply reading aloud a morning update with an article or two this idea could allow both smaller editing times than a full podcast, while still having enough quality content to make a case for a podcast.

    As you can tell I still miss the podcasts from yesteryear, they were a lot of fun and always were a highlight of my commute. I do believe it would be fun to hear them come back into the fold!

    • A daily podcast would be nearly impossible. For one, it takes a lot of time to record, edit, and post, and I couldn’t do it while on the road. It also would cost a lot to get enough storage space to host a daily podcast.

      I do want to bring this back, but a few things need to happen first before I can do that.

      I’m also thinking about doing Facebook Live chats, including during games.

  • Aaron L

    I have to agree with you that trying to keep up with the content is really difficult. It was one of the problems I had with DK’s site; they simply produced too much content, and much of it became kind of watered-down.

    As a paywall site, I want to consume as much, if not all, of the content that I am paying for. If that means prioritizing quality over quantity (and by no means is this meant that the content was not “quality” because it was), then so be it.

    There were times that I had to choose to not read certain articles and that just isn’t fair to your writers or to our prospects. I appreciate this move!

Site Updates

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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