The 2017 Prospect Guide is now available for pre-sales, with discounts for Top Prospect and Annual subscribers. This is the seventh year that we will release the book, although this year will mark a change in the release date, and more specifically, a change back to the way we used to do things.

When we first released the book, it came out in January, giving the off-season plenty of time to unfold. We’re going back to that approach, with this year’s book being released in mid-January, rather than early December in recent years.

At the time we first started producing the book, the Pirates were a different organization. They weren’t an organization that would trade top prospects in the off-season, and they had already traded away their biggest veteran players. So the off-season moves didn’t really impact the book, and it was safe to release that after the Rule 5 draft, which was usually the biggest prospect move of the off-season.

The Pirates are a much different organization now. They’re in a place this off-season where they could not only trade prospects away, but trade veteran players to receive prospects. There have been Andrew McCutchen trade rumors, Tony Watson trade rumors, and with the free agent market being weak on starting pitching, I wouldn’t be surprised if they trade prospects to address their pitching needs. All of these could impact the book, and with a normal publishing date of December 10th, there’s a good chance the book wouldn’t include some of these potential moves.

I’d like to get the book out in time for Christmas, as I know a lot of you enjoy getting the book under the tree or as a stocking stuffer — I’d say the ways you could receive the book on Christmas are endless, but in reality there are probably only two other ways you could get the book besides tree placement and stockings. The last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time putting the book together, and have you spend your hard earned money, then rush the book to publication, only to have it become obsolete by the time you open it up on Christmas morning.

We will still have gift subscriptions available, and we will have gift cards that you can give for the book that will arrive in January.

One benefit here is that not only will we have the important off-season moves covered, but we’ll also have more information to put in the book. We will have content from PirateFest to include in the book, with player and management interviews contributing to the content and analysis. We’ll have coverage from mini-camp, which always features new prospect information. All of this will allow the book to be a much better resource heading into the season, as it will be filled with the most up-to-date information we get. In the last few years, it felt kind of wrong to sell a book so early in the off-season, and then get new information immediately with PirateFest, along with a lot of new information during mini-camp.

Not only will the later publication date (or the original publication date, since we’re returning to the old method) lead to more information, but it will lead to a higher quality book overall, as we won’t have to rush the process. Plus, we won’t have to deal with the USPS during the holidays, which led to at least 50 books getting lost in the mail last year, and about 10-15 of those books being gone for good. That’s a frustration that seems to be happening more and more each holiday season. That played a role in our decision as well, since this problem drives up our costs, and can be extremely frustrating for those of you who had your books lost, or delayed, sometimes in extreme cases.

The Prospect Guide will still provide the most in-depth look at the Pirates’ minor league system. It features profiles and reports on every prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league system. The reports come from the information gathered from our writers throughout the year, after conversations with the players, coaches, and scouts in and out of the organization.

No one else really comes close to the prospect information we have in the system, and it would be easy for me to rush the book to production, have a lower quality product, and still make that true statement about having the most in-depth look at the system. But my primary focus is on producing the best quality product we can find, which means I’m not satisfied at having more information than everyone else, but instead trying to compete against our previous books and make sure that each one gets better and better. As always, the 2017 Prospect Guide will be jam-packed with information that you can’t find anywhere else on players in the farm system.

To pre-order the book, head over to the products page and place your order.

Discounts For Subscribers

We are once again offering discounts to subscribers as a way of thanking you for subscribing to the site. Last year was our first year as a subscription site, and we offered free books to the Top Prospect subscribers as a way of saying thanks for making a big commitment to us in that first year. That was a one year deal, but the Top Prospect subscribers will still get the biggest discounts.

All Top Prospect subscribers will be able to purchase the book for just $15, with shipping included in that price.

Annual subscribers will be able to purchase the book for $20, with shipping included.

The regular price of the book will once again be $25 shipped. If you aren’t a subscriber, or you’re on a monthly plan, that’s the price you’d pay, unless you decided to upgrade your subscription. To upgrade your plan, just go to the subscription page of the site while logged in to see your options. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can find all of our plans on that page.

The Cover

We typically feature one player on the cover, choosing either our Pitcher of the Year or Player of the Year. Last year we decided to focus on all of the players in Indianapolis who would be making the jump to Pittsburgh in 2016. This year, we’re going back to the single player, mostly because there was one player who really stood out in the system as one of the best stories of the year.

Mitch Keller was not only our Pitcher of the Year, but he was also our Breakout Prospect of the Year. His huge season and emergence as a top prospect made him an easy choice as the featured player on this year’s cover. Note that we’ve only started the process of ranking players for the top 50, and we’re not to the point of putting the list together yet, which means the cover isn’t a spoiler on who the top prospect in the system will be. I’ve already said I would pick Keller over Tyler Glasnow, but that’s going to be an interesting debate this off-season with the entire writing team.

Sean McCool designed the cover for the second year in a row, and once again did an outstanding job. There’s almost a bit of breakout symbolism here, with Keller in his West Virginia uniform in the background in black and white, and Keller in a Pirates uniform in the foreground in full color. Almost as if the cover is showing the jump he made this year, and what is now in store for his future. We try to write a featured article in the book each year to reflect the cover, and there will be a feature in the book on Keller this year and how he made such a big jump in the system. You can check out the cover below.

2017 Prospect Guide Cover

The Prospect Grades

We rank every player in the system using a 2-8 scale, with every writer submitting their own grades on the players in the system. These grades include local writers, who submitted reports for the players they covered, along with regional writers, who submitted reports on players from multiple teams. All of the rankings are combined to give an overall future potential for each player. We project the likely upside for each player, using the following scale.

8 Elite Talent
7 All Star
6 Above-Average Starter / Strong #3 Innings Eater / Impact Closer
5 Average Major Leaguer / #3-5 SP / Closer Candidate
4 Impactful Bench Player / Spot Starter / Strong Middle Reliever
3 Up & Down Player
2 Minor Leaguer

Everyone involved submits floor and ceiling rankings, to get an idea of the risk involved with each player. This is very similar to the process that Baseball America added several years ago. I like that, because it shows how close players really are in talent. In some cases you could have a guy outside the top 50 who is ranked just as good as someone in the top 50. In other cases you could see how there’s not much difference between prospect number 15 and prospect number 25. Since this is the fourth year we have taken this approach, you will be able to look back at the last three books and compare the quality of prospects in the system between the four years.

The book also includes team-by-team rankings, the best tools at each position in the system, a depth chart, summaries of the last five draft classes, and reports on the top DSL players and international signings, extending the coverage to every player in the system.

Digital Version

There will be a digital version of the Prospect Guide, although that will not be available for pre-sales, and will come out when the Prospect Guide is released. The digital version will be available to purchase in a gift package. The digital version will be an e-book that can be accessed on any e-reader, including iPads, Kindles, and Smartphones.

Older Books

We have a very limited supply of older books, with a few 2015 books on clearance for $1, and the rest of our 2016 books at a discounted price. These are first come, first served. They will ship out with the rest of your order in January.