Today marks the beginning of the Dominican Summer League season. Yesterday, John Dreker posted his exhaustive season preview, looking at every player projected to be on the team, along with reports on how they have been doing throughout Spring Training and extended Spring Training. John is in contact with a lot of sources in the Dominican, getting weekly reports on this players.

It’s this coverage that has allowed us to report on a lot of players and their high potential before they are even in the U.S., and before most people have even heard their names. For example, take a look at this report on the top prospects from the 2013 season. Two years later, all ten players on the top prospect list are in the U.S., and some of them are in significant roles, such as Tito Polo and Pablo Reyes, who are both starting for West Virginia. Jose Regalado has also played a significant role for West Virginia’s pitching staff, while Julio Vivas spent time in the Bradenton bullpen this year.

This year we are taking that coverage to the next level. I mentioned that with the expansion of the site, I wanted to have coverage from every level, and personally travel to every affiliate to get my own look at each player. And I meant every affiliate.

Today I finalized plans to go down and cover the DSL Pirates for a few days during the month of June. I’ll be covering two home games, while also getting some reports from the Dominican Academy, and reporting about the daily events down there. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but have never been able to do, primarily because of the lack of resources.

One way to look at the DSL coverage is wondering why anyone would care about guys so far away from the majors. Very few of those players will ever reach the majors. Maybe half of them will reach the U.S. Covering the individual players in the DSL isn’t the same as covering the individual players in West Virginia. The featured articles about those guys probably aren’t going to generate as much interest as a much cheaper trip to one of the U.S. affiliates.

But anyone who has been following the Pirates’ system knows that the international work has been incredibly important to the organization. All you need to do to realize this is look at the majors, where Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte make up two-thirds of the Dream Outfield™ in Pittsburgh. They were signed by the Pirates for a combined $235,000.

Or there are the many interesting prospects throughout the minors. Alen Hanson and Elias Diaz in Triple-A; Willy Garcia and Jose Osuna in Double-A; Harold Ramirez, Luis Heredia, and Edwin Espinal in Bradenton; Tito Polo, Yeudy Garcia, Elvis Escobar, and Pablo Reyes in West Virginia. The Pirates have made Latin America a big focus for their rebuild, and their efforts to remain competitive.

So I’ll be going down to get a look at some of the players in the DSL, and get an even better feel for the upside and potential of some of those guys. But I’ll also be getting a better understanding of how the Pirates operate at the base level of one of their most important avenues for finding and developing amateur talent.

It might not stop there. This will be a quick trip, where I fly down the 21st, watch games the 22nd and 23rd, and fly out early in the morning the 24th (just in time to catch the GCL Pirates in their second home game on the 25th). But I’m also hoping to go back to the DSL later in the summer, with a goal of getting more reports, and more coverage of how the Pirates operate at their academy.

This won’t be my only travel in the month of June. I will also be making a trip up to Indianapolis. I’m still determining the date, and will have finalized plans on that after the draft.

I mention this every week, but all of this travel is made possible by the subscriptions to the site. I mention it not only to let subscribers know where their money is being spent, but also to let non-subscribers know what we’re doing on the site. We’ve got writers covering every affiliate (last night we had live coverage of three games in the Prospect Watch). We’ve got coverage of the Pirates in Pittsburgh (check out Nate Barnes’ excellent write-up of Gregory Polanco from yesterday). And we’re able to travel to provide additional coverage throughout the system.

No free site gives you anything close to this type of coverage. And the paid sites that provide some minor league coverage don’t give you anything close to the amount of content we provide from around the system, or they provide a lot of updates that we have already covered on the site. These were all goals of mine when we started the site, and so far we are off to a great start in reaching those goals. The more subscriptions we get, the more we can do to continue expanding in ways I’ve mentioned above. So for just $2.99 per month or less, you can get access to an already great site, and help make it better in the process.

Stats Database

I mentioned in last week’s update that we’re working on a stats database. This is going to be a very lengthy process, and as I mentioned last week, it will be a costly one. The database will cost at least $4,000 to set up, but the cost will be worth it. Some of the things we’re hoping to bring to the site:

**Sortable stats for everyone in the system this year.

**Live box scores each night of all of the games in the system.

**Stats on each player’s site page, along with splits, advanced metrics, and game logs.

The first step will be setting up the database. Then we will dig in deeper and start to add more advanced metrics and other great features.

I know that some of these features can be found on other sites. But we’re looking to give you all of the news on each player on one site. The goal is to have a page for each player where you can see his stats, photos, links to all articles about the player, an archive of all of the videos we’ve shot of the player, where he has ranked in all of our prospect rankings each year, and every single report we’ve written about the player over the years from every single level.

Like I said, this is a lengthy process. We hope to start implementing it on the site in early July. Just another feature and resource to add to your subscription.

Draft Coverage

The MLB draft is coming up a week from Monday. For those of you familiar with the site, you will know that the draft is our biggest event of the year. We’ve been following the potential picks for months, and when draft day comes, we provide wall to wall coverage of the event. It pretty much takes over the site for three days. After each pick, we post an article with all of the information we find on that player. We then post a player page for the new player, with all of the key details of that player.

At the end of each day, I jump on a conference call with the rest of the Pittsburgh media and talk with Neal Huntington, Greg Smith, and Joe DelliCarri, discussing the picks that were made. Based on my experience in previous years, we are usually the only ones who have specific questions about players outside of the first 2-3 rounds, and the only outlet that has any interest in information on the guys taken on day three of the draft.

When it’s all over, we will go back through the picks, search for more information, watch videos, and learn as much as we can on them. When they sign, we are usually the first to report it, if not one of the first outlets. Each year we break the news of more draft signings than any other outlet. And this year we will have all of the first reports of the draft picks in the system, with our live coverage of the GCL, Bristol, and Morgantown.

I’ve been saying “we”, and by that I mean at least eight people who will be involved in the total process — reporting on draft day, searching for stats and info on each player behind the scenes, and then the actual process of getting the player reports and interviewing the players when they sign.

Once again, you could get free draft information elsewhere. Or, for just the price of a cup of coffee each month, you could get the best Pirates draft coverage from people who have been following the draft for months, along with all of the future coverage after most outlets forget everyone who was taken after the first round.

Upcoming Coverage

Here is a rundown of our live coverage for the upcoming week. As usual, we will have features from every level throughout the week.

Indianapolis – Ryan Palencer will be covering Indianapolis through the first half of the week. He’s got an article on Jaff Decker coming up, along with possible updates on Elias Diaz and Clayton Richard.

Altoona – Sean McCool will be covering the Curve through their final home game of this stretch on Thursday. He’ll be focusing on the outstanding starting pitchers at the level, with a close look at the recent success from Chad Kuhl and Angel Sanchez.

Bradenton – The Marauders are home through Friday, with one day on the road in there. I’ll have regular coverage, with a lot of Bradenton features coming soon. I’m working on updates on all of the key players, and already have stuff lined up for Wyatt Mathisen, Erich Weiss, and Cody Dickson. I’ll have articles lined up for Luis Heredia, Steven Brault, and Harold Ramirez.

West Virginia – I’ve got a few more features from when I was in West Virginia earlier this month, and will be unloading those in the early part of the week. This includes two of the top prospects at the level, Cole Tucker and Austin Coley.

Extended Spring Training – I’ll have a few live reports from extended Spring Training, including Tuesday’s outing, which will feature the continued rehab process from Jameson Taillon, Clay Holmes, and Tyler Eppler. With camp wrapping up, I’ll also have an updated look at the 2014 prep pitchers (Mitch Keller, Trey Supak, and Gage Hinsz).

This is all part of our normal weekly coverage. And once again, you can get that all for the low price…ah, you get the idea. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, you’re missing out on some great content, all over a few dollars that you definitely won’t even think about after you’ve subscribed. So go ahead and subscribe today. And don’t forget our DraftKings promotion, where you can get a free one-year subscription to the site, just by signing up for a new DraftKings account (using that link) and making a minimum $5 first deposit.

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  1. First comment, but long-time reader. This is great stuff, Tim. Thank you for the hard-work and dedication.

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