Site Updates

Site Updates: Pirates Prospects Enters the 10th Year Covering the Pirates

Site Updates: Pirates Prospects Enters the 10th Year Covering the Pirates

Nine years ago today, I started this website. At the time I was a writer for another company, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL articles to places like ESPN Insider, Yahoo Sports, USA Today, and other outlets. This was supposed to be a side project, something that I did for fun that would allow me a place to write about the prospects I saw in Lynchburg that year, while also providing resources that we still have today, like payroll trackers and detailed draft coverage.

Nine years is a long time.

A really long time when you think about it.

When this site started, the top prospect in the system was a guy named Andrew McCutchen.

Pedro Alvarez had yet to play in his first professional game.

Gerrit Cole was a freshman in college.

Jameson Taillon was a junior in high school. Josh Bell was a sophomore. Austin Meadows wasn’t even in high school yet.

Mitch Keller was in elementary school.

I’ve told the story many times of how the site grew to what it is now. The highlights: In that first year I thought it could one day provide some extra income to pay my cell phone bill or something. It continued to grow quickly. I was laid off. After struggling to find work during the recession, I put all of my eggs in this basket and released the Prospect Guide to help make this full-time. Eventually we added writers, with John Dreker and Wilbur Miller being some of the earliest contributors. We were the first internet outlet to receive credentials with the Pirates, also working with the Pirates to help create a set of guidelines for new media that allowed other sites like Bucs Dugout to eventually get access.

That last part is something I’m very proud of, since this was about five years before places like DK Pittsburgh Sports and Pittsburgh Sports Now made the jump from traditional outlets to new media, and before every blog started up with the intent of becoming a news source and trying to build up to a legit news outlet. We were kind of ahead of our time in the early days.

There were ups and downs along the way, but we’re now entering our tenth year of coverage, and honestly I never thought it would get this far. That includes times in the last year, where people have been turned off to the Pirates. Fortunately, that seems to be turning around.

We’re now entering a time where things are oddly similar to how they all started on this site. The Pirates are rebuilding, with hopes of getting back to being contenders. Only this time around they are two seasons removed from contending, rather than 16 seasons, and they’re a lot closer to contending in 2018 than they were in 2009. But the feeling is similar from the fan base perspective, and honestly, it’s almost worse now than it was in 2009.

We grew so quickly in the early days because we were the only outlet providing daily close coverage of the minor league system, at a time when all of the fan focus on the Pirates was on their minor league system. I was the only person providing reports from Lynchburg that year, when a team led by Pedro Alvarez, Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, Alex Presley, Justin Wilson Jeff Locke, and other future MLB players ended up winning a championship. It only made sense that with the Pirates rebuilding and focusing on the minors, that the coverage focus should be on the minors.

Eventually, the focus went to the majors, and by that point, we were established covering the big league team as well. It was another thing that made sense. We’re not going to spend six years covering every little detail of the development for Jameson Taillon and Josh Bell, only to stop covering them once they arrive in Pittsburgh. And the general response was positive, where most of the attention went to prospects in Triple-A or what was happening in the majors, rather than articles about prospects in the lower levels. It was a complete 180 from where the site was when it first started out.

So when it looked like the Pirates would start trading players away this offseason, I was worried about the impact to the site. It’s weird to think that a shift in focus to the farm system would hurt a site called Pirates Prospects. But I had already seen a lack of interest in lower level articles the last few years, and then saw a mass wave of cancellations in August and September due to how the MLB team performed. The site was built and grew during a time when the Pirates were losing at the MLB level, and my fear was that Pirates fans were no longer interested in seeing what was next in a rebuild.

Fortunately, it looks like I was wrong.

Since the Gerrit Cole trade happened, we’ve seen a spike in subscriptions. That continued even after the Andrew McCutchen trade. I’ve heard from a lot of the new subscribers, and the common theme is along the lines of the new subscriber being upset with the trades, upset that McCutchen is gone, but still a fan of the Pirates and feeling that with their current focus, this is the perfect time to subscribe to follow the farm system.

I would say that any time is a perfect time to subscribe to Pirates Prospects if you’re a Pirates fan. But this would definitely be the best time, as the current direction of the team is right in our wheelhouse.

You’ve got a team full of young players at the MLB level, mostly made up of guys that we have covered since the day they entered the system. That’s coverage and background that no other outlet can match,

There are prospects in the upper levels who could make the jump to the majors in the next year or two, again with our unparalleled coverage and background on those players — not to mention that we’re the only Pittsburgh outlet that has reporters in Indianapolis and Altoona.

Then there are the lower level guys who the Pirates need to break out in order to rebuild the farm system. Again, our coverage, we’re the only ones covering them, etc.

And it’s not like we’ve only been focused on the prospects. We still have Alan Saunders providing fantastic coverage of the Pirates at the MLB level, so you get that aspect as well.

The Pirates insist that they’re not in for a long rebuild, and that they can still compete. If that happens, we’ve got Alan covering things in the majors, and covering how the team progresses even if they aren’t competitive this year. My feeling is that this team won’t be a contender until 2019 or 2020, with a lot of the upper level prospects right now playing a big impact. And we’ll be covering those prospects every step of the way, along with everyone else in the system.

I’m so thankful to all of you who have been with us along the way these past nine years. From the brief period where the site was actually called BuccoFans.com, and then through the period where we had to switch to a subscription site to remain in business, we couldn’t have done this without your support.

Current subscribers, I hope to have your continued support going forward. If you’re not a subscriber, please join us by signing up here. And current subscribers, feel free to tell the new guys why they should sign up in the comments.

Regardless of your status as either an existing subscriber, new subscriber, or future subscriber, our goal remains the same as it has been all along: Providing you the best coverage we can of the entire system, with information and resources that you can’t find anywhere else. And with the current direction of the Pirates, that information from the minors becomes even more valuable.

  • joe s

    Glad it is working out for you. I for one, want to continue reading about the future prospects that maybe just one day may make the Pirates world champs again.

  • Chuck C

    Doing an awesome job, Tim. I don’t go to Starbucks, make my own coffee. I’m really getting a deal cause my coffee costs about $.50 a pot.

  • freddylang

    Great article Tim. Thanks for feeding my unhealthy obsession with the Pirates someday getting back to the World Series.

  • IC Bob

    Thanks Tim for bringing it through thick and thin

  • Mike G

    10 years? Reminds me of when my son saw a picture of me and said, “Boy, Dad, your hair was darker then!” I said, “Yes, and my heart was lighter.” (Lee Marvin, the Professionals) Tim, you and the boys do top shelf work.

  • AttyMike

    Congrats on the anniversary! Deepest coverage of the Pirates organization that I’ve read.

  • jitman14

    Love the work you all do and looking forward to what will come. Thank you for your dedication. Is this a free article that can be shared and viewed by non-subscribers on social media?

    • John Dreker

      Yes, this article is free, so everyone feel free to share it.

  • Jim Deweese

    Best stuff out there. As an Altoona ex-patriate since 1981, I cannot begin to express my appreciation for all y’all. 1st site I open each morning.

  • beaverjp

    There was a free article regarding Pedro Alvarez after he was non tendered following the 2015 season. It was and despite reading every article hitting the site since is still my favorite – the quality was noticibly better than anything I found through other pirates outlets. I also throughly remember the How I Started the Site article it’s a pretty vivid and there are some hilarious anecdotes. If you could package a few articles together into an archive maybe to link into a space above the subscription login section – a lot of readers will immediately latch onto the quality if they can get a few nibble.

  • Brian Z

    wow…you’re old!!!! lol. Just playing with you. I live in Houston so this is a great place for me to be able to follow the buccos and all of their future players. Before I found this place though I was at Marte’s first game where we replaced Alex Presley. The odd thing was, I was sitting right in front of Presley’s family that game. We were chatting before the game, it hadn’t been announced that Marte was playing yet and I was an Alex fan (loved his hustle). Then the announcement and the awkwardness that followed. Then Marte hit a HR in his first AB and his family said, “well, guess that’s why they are excited about Marte” and laughed it off. I barely knew of this Marte guy. That won’t happen ever again, I’m a lifer to this site.

    • jamminjoe66

      It was the 1st pitch he saw also, I can remember coming out of my chair.
      Great job PP!!!

  • BUCNDrummer

    I’ve been here since 2009 in the BUCCO Fans days and have always appreciated your work, Tim.

  • jaygray007

    i actually think i kinda remember coming across the thread on the pirates’ message board about how you were starting BuccoFans. kinda crazy how long its been.

    Congrats!

    oh god. now i just remembered the guy what always said “How about McCutchen for Trumbo?” on the pirates’ board.

  • Joseph Cafaro

    The site keeps getting better Tim. You and all the writers are top notch. I’m on the site multiple times a day. Can’t get enough of prospect news. Good luck moving forward.

  • Michael D

    It may have been during your first year with the Hillcats that I saw a link to one of your articles on MLB Trade Rumors. Since I was more concerned with the future of the Pirates rather their current MLB team, I checked it out and I’ve been coming back ever since. I still prefer reading about prospects more than the big leaguers.

  • TonyV

    Glad to hear that the loss of subscribers has turned around. It is also good news that fans are staying with the club. The overwhelming sentiment in fan comments is highly agitated at best. As all things the vocal few that we all notice is usually the minority even though they are the loudest.

  • nmagera07

    i check this site everyday. it is the best resource for pirates prospects. i look forward to seeing the site continuing to grow

  • endofline

    Here’ to another 10 years!

  • cabbo80

    Well I guess that explains why I haven’t seen one damn article about Johnny Depp. I thought this was a site that covered the Pirates of the Caribbean and the prospects of a new and upcoming movie. 10 years I’ve patiently waited, reading article after article about baseball. I thought that the Pittsburgh Pirates were your advertising support. Wife always said I’m a little slow. Oh well, I’m paid for the year, might as well make the best of it…who’s Andrew McCutchen?…he seems popular, maybe he knows Depp?

    • John Dreker

      Just for you, I’m going to whip up something really quick about Andrew McCutchen, so you know who he is. Give me a few minutes…

      • cabbo80

        Excellent. Raise the Jolly Roger!

        • John Dreker

          It’s up, sorry it took so long

  • Scott K

    Congrats on making your dream come true. Quite an accomplishment to succeed by charging for a product when a consumer can find something similar for free. Certainly a testament to the quality of your product, Tim.

    One of your keys to success is your ability to play it down the middle. The analysis provided on this site doesn’t seem to favor those who are overly positive (like me) towards the organization, or overly negative towards the team. Vin Scully made quite a career taking this approach. Hoping you make this site work for as long as he entertained us baseball fans.

    Cheers!

    • cabbo80

      Gotta admit had to read your post couple times to see if you were happy or mad.

      • Scott K

        It’s difficult to be unbiased about matters of the heart. Tim and his staff are very good about illustrating both fact and opinion about the team without a distinct taint one direction or another. Something very few of us commenters are able to do.

        For this I applaud him.

  • It’s my only have to click of the day, usually a few times a day.

  • Andrew Rothstein

    Tim … I’ve been here from the beginning … the work that you and the team do will always have me coming back … i also think the success of this site is extremely interesting from a business perspective … can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings … congrats!

  • Dale Deabenderfer

    Money well spent. Keep up the great work.

  • Zachary N

    It is refreshing have access to this site where we can read objective articles and not emotion reactions. I will always love the Pirates and this site is a constant hope of what may come with the prospects.

  • Randy W

    Guys, thank you for all the hard work and all the great info and insight that comes from that. When I first started reading this site it was free; and I remember being in disbelief about that. Then when it switched to subscription, it was a no-brainer that I’d sign up regardless of how much it would cost. Then when I found out it was only a few bucks a month I seriously felt like a criminal. This site provides new articles every day that contain tons of information, stats, and analysis. Seriously one of the best values around. Every Pirates fan should have a subscription to this site.

  • john krall

    Have been following since beginning and really enjoy how Pirates Prospects has evolved! Keep up the great work!

  • rickmontgomery

    Congratulations, Tim, for 10 years of helping us watch our team develop and grow. I look forward every day to getting my Pirate Prospects fix for the day. Of course, I can stop reading any time, but where is the next article? I’m getting antsy….

  • thecrow124

    I can’t remember exactly how I came across this site. I know it started up a few months before the ESPN message boards went tits up. I was a regular there and one of the last threads on there was about this site. Not sure who started the thread, but once those boards died out, I came over here and have been here since, with a shirt break right after this became a subscription site.

    Darkstone, you were on the ESPN boards, and you are the only one I recognize from there, did you start that thread?

    • Frank Koch

      Keep up the excellent work. I like many of the subscribers visit the site very often during the day. Always want to read news about the Pirate team,and prospects who are developing throughout the System.

      • thecrow124

        Will do.

        • rickmontgomery

          Crow, I’m so glad you’re not leaving everything to Tim and John. You deserve every kudo you get. All 1 of them.

  • Wabbit_Season

    These are the times that I enjoy reading P2 most. There are two games to watch: You can watch the Bucs and root for the big club to make the playoffs. And there is the eternal game of watching these players win the war of attrition it takes to get to the show.

    I enjoy reading the reports in the annual prospect guide and quietly rooting for this guy or that guy. Kind of placing my bets, you know? I love a dark horse. I love a gamer like Max Moroff who finally gets there and maybe he can exceed my expectations.

    I saw Cutch in Altoona. And you just knew. Big fan of Osuna too.

    So, for da Wabbit, P2 matters all the time. It’s my first stop of the morning with my cup of coffee and it turns into a click-magnet when something big like a trade or acquisition or draft is in the offing.

    I very much enjoy those who post here and learn things all the time.

    Make Mine P2!

    -Wabbit

  • Tim,
    Your site coverage is just as valid in the “off season” as during the Spring and Summer months. Be prepared for the next few weeks because plenty of players have not signed. It might be a good time for the Bucs to swing some trades amd adjust the roster to cover catching and outfield shortages.

  • thecrow124

    Kind of an OT question, but what makes you think this group will be competitive by 2019?

    Keller seems to be the only difference maker to be promoted during that time, and no one on the major league roster, outside of Josh Bell, seems to be capable of being more than an average major league player by that time.

    • I’ve written about that in a few of my recent columns. It’s going to take more than just the internal guys, but they have a good foundation to get them to the point where some outside additions will put them into contention territory.

  • bnlightnd

    Been a follower for about 5 of the 10 years and a subscriber since the site went that route. Great site. For anyone considering subscribing, you absolutely should.

  • I hope this site still is able to cover your cell phone bill.
    Whether I agree with you guys or not, I think you do great work.
    Let’s do this again at 20 years.

    • My cell phone bill is now about four times more expensive as it was in 2009, and I think I have the same features somehow.

  • Mike

    Glad to hear things are looking up again. Some of your comments late last year had me a little worried.

    Not sure if this is the place, but one thing I’d like is some more coverage of players from other teams. Maybe highlight a player from an opposing team if it’s a notable prospect. Just my 2 cents.

    • The whole situation had me worried, for some of the reasons I stated above. When guys like Taillon, Cole, Bell, Glasnow, etc were coming up through West Virginia and Bradenton, their coverage got a huge amount of attention. Then Keller has a breakout season, and follows it up with a good year in Bradenton, and he didn’t get nearly the same attention as those guys until he reached Altoona.

      There was a noticeable dropoff in the attention to the lower level prospects, and people’s subscriptions to the site were largely revolving around whether the MLB team was winning. My concern was that if they went into a rebuild, or just kept losing without a rebuild, that the site would continue to see mass cancellations. Fortunately, that turned around, and saw a spike in a positive direction in recent weeks.

  • Recently rejoined after years of being a subscriber due only to having to find the right month to let go of the full year’s payment. This is a great site and I missed it the couple months I was away. Glad to be back.

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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