I have one rule for my own writing on this site: My mind has to be in the right space to write an article.
Each article you see from me comes from the same process. When I get an idea, I basically see the article I’m going to write, already written in my head. The next part is gathering everything I need to extract that article from my head onto the page, in a way where you guys essentially get a look at what flashed through my brain days earlier. This is more complex than I make it sound.
On paper, it looks like me writing: “Braylon Bishop’s swing.”
Inside my head? That unlocks something like this:
It’s just a complex jumble of possibilities, that eventually get sorted through as I do my job as a reporter. When I have everything gathered, I start assembling and piecing it all together in the weirdest possible way. Like, you’d be appalled at the process in which this very article you’re reading now comes together. Somehow it works.
I’m saying that last part based on your feedback — both stated in comments and unstated in the amount of traffic we see.
Last week, I wrote an article for Tuesday about Oneil Cruz. I felt it was great work because the finished product came out exactly as I hoped, with my honest opinion displayed in a clearly laid out, well-supported argument.
That article was then read by more people than you’ll see at PNC Park on any given night.
From my perspective, every time I sit down to produce an article, I’m doing my craft for a stadium full of people. I think there’s a reason why I understand the mindset of MLB players, and those aspiring to be one. In my follow-up to last week’s article, I’m going to make my first attempt at explaining things from that perspective and mindset.
That “Cruz: Part Two” column was originally going to go up Friday, and the final part would have gone tomorrow.
Unfortunately, on Wednesday last week I came down with COVID. It was the first time I got it, which ended an impressive run. It also ended my hope that smoking weed daily was the cure.
It was a crazy, rollercoaster of a week. I had a fever for about 40 hours. And there was no way I was writing anything important during that time.
By Friday, the fever was pretty much gone, and if I’m honest, the weed at that point was fantastic. I don’t know if anyone else has tried a “Plague and Bake”, but a nice Indica-strain will do wonders to remove that feeling of “Why does every square inch of my back hurt?” from when you forget that you were in bed for the last two days.
Fortunately, I was feeling better by Saturday, and I’m writing this article on Sunday, so the writing process has returned.
We’ve got some great stuff coming to the site this week. Let’s get it started with this week’s First Pitch…
FUQUAY VINYL PLAYLIST
This week’s playlist is designed to get your mind through 40-hour COVID fevers. In one isolated incident, when the subject was no longer infected, it resulted in a breach into the Multiverse, leading to a near-incursion with Earth-1997; a.k.a., the version of Earth in which the “Freak Show” Pittsburgh Pirates actually won the World Series, beating the Cleveland Indians 4-3. It was the lowest rated World Series across the entire Multiverse.
First Pitch continues below…
BRAYLON BISHOP’S SWING
Who else loves extreme launch angles?
The photo below is an amazing shot captured by Wilbur Miller of Braylon Bishop’s first pro home run. Click it to get a better look.
Bishop was drafted in the 14th round last year, and given an over-slot $268,700 bonus — essentially all the Pirates had left for their 2021 draft class — to start his pro career.
Here’s a video look at that first homer from the prep outfielder:
Braylon Bishops first pro HR video pic.twitter.com/pCL4mKZULm
— Kody Duncan (@KodyDuncanPGH) June 9, 2022
Check back tomorrow for my article on Bishop’s swing, which will be part of this week’s premium article drop.
CLEMENTE OFF THE WALL
I love this classic Roberto Clemente play that Ervin Santana recently shared.
— Ervin Santana (@ErvinSantana_54) June 7, 2022
That cannon of a throw is one thing, but I’m focused on the wait today.
The ball goes into the corner, and Clemente, knowing every square inch of that right field, projects the ball’s path perfectly, and runs to the spot where the ball is going to be.
And then he waits.
And the ball comes to him.
That’s control and patience that make a star player. Imagine, for a second, that Clemente is in two gears here.
The first one is “Present”.
When he is Present, he’s running all-out to the spot, and then later making the cannon of a throw.
In between those two periods of him being Present was another period, “Planning.”
Those two modes operate side by side the entire time.
He’s Planning while he’s Presently running to the ball.
He’s Present while he’s standing and waiting and Planning the throw.
He’s Planning his next moves after the throw is made Present to everyone on the field.
The fact that Clemente could do that in such a split-second — shifting gears in his mind like a European sports car — is what made him one of the greats.
Ultimately, that ability to shift gears at-will between Present and Planning is what I believe is the spectrum that success in this sport should be guided on.
If you’d like to read more about Roberto Clemente, be sure to check out John Dreker’s Pittsburgh Baseball History site.
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS…
Do you notice anything?
Every single thing on this site is produced by people on this site.
There are no advertisements.
There’s no endless scroll of articles that will take you to another content factory.
This site is purely our content following the Pirates, as minimalist as it gets. That said, you will see some of my side projects on here. Fuquay Vinyl, being one example.
I said I didn’t write anything this past week for the site. I did actually write a poem at some point, after laying in bed wondering how the Earth would spiral around the sun if the sun was constantly moving through space. This has nothing to do with baseball, though a Mike Burrows spin-rate comp could be made, I guess. I thought I’d share, since the web space is free.
First Pitch continues below…
Spring in Space
When you envision the Earth moving around the Sun,
Is the Sun in a fixed place?
And every year the Earth returns to the same spot in space?
Or is the Sun on the run?
Pulling along its dependents through the solar system
The Earth manages to spring ahead
Faster than the Sun in summer
Falling back when the Sun drags its planets to take the lead
Cold winter as the Earth stares distantly at the Sun’s greed
But on the other side of the planet, they perceive winter as summer
And the Earth is moving faster when you’re going backwards down under
Slingshot around, then speed back down to achieve the ring
If the Sun is speeding through space, then the entire Earth is spiraling
Like a spring in space
And when it’s spring, we pick up the pace
As the Earth comes speeding back around
Propelling ahead of the Sun with new momentum found
**Aaron Shortridge made his second rehab start yesterday for Bradenton. Shortridge last pitched in High-A in 2019, and went down with Tommy John before the 2021 season. He’s combined for six shutout innings so far, with one walk, four hits, and five strikeouts. He’s a strong control guy. Despite his 6′ 3″, power right-hander frame, he was throwing 89-90 MPH in his recent outing, according to Wilbur Miller. This is all good to see in his early return to the game. He should get a push to the upper levels when he’s fully stretched out. Shortridge could emerge as a muti-inning option in the majors, with a shot to develop into a starter.
**Henry Davis heads up to the plate with nearly full armor on his left arm. The catcher and 2021 first overall pick isn’t afraid of getting hit, as Anthony Murphy detailed recently. Davis was hit twice on Sunday, giving him 15 career hits in 122 plate appearances. What I find interesting is that Davis, as a catcher, is used to moving around with extra armor. His ability to still crush the ball and hit for average, while wearing so much weight on his arm, might be a hidden value. He’s very confident about his power, from my experience interacting with him. He approaches the game like he’s ready to hit, and isn’t afraid to get hit. That armor has to give him some level of a confidence boost by removing something to worry about from his thought process at the plate.
**You expect to see a player struggle a bit when he moves from High-A to Double-A, but this doesn’t seem like a huge leap for Matt Gorski right now. The outfielder had an .821 OPS in 65 plate appearances going into Sunday, before going 1-for-4. He hit his second homer at the level this week, and played a few games at first base. Gorski obviously wasn’t going to put up an OPS above 1.100 like he did at the lower level, but his continued success here is great to see.
**All of a sudden it feels like the Pirates have a lot of outfield depth throughout the system, right? Gorski is on the same team as Connor Scott (Jacob Stallings trade) and Matt Fraizer (2021 Pirates Minor League Player of the Year), who have both seen struggles this year in Altoona. There’s a lot of upside from this trio — enough to potentially get at least one 50-grade starter from the group. They’re joined by Blake Sabol, Jared Triolo, Brendt Citta, and a few other intriguing options. And yet, the Pirates are currently sorting through Jack Suwinski, Cal Mitchell, and Travis Swaggerty in the majors for the final two spots next to Bryan Reynolds. They still have Canaan Smith-Njigba as an additional option in Triple-A. Obviously that’s just a big group of names of various levels of potential, but it seems like we’re starting to see a tide turn toward the potential shining through more often than not.
**I just want to point out some timing. John Dreker wrote about right-handed pitcher Travis MacGregor last week, and what was going well for him. In his next appearance, MacGregor went five shutout innings, striking out eight. He now has 13 strikeouts, no walks, and three hits in eight shutout innings over his last two games.
WEEKLY PIRATES QUIZ
**Baseball America released their National League Central Prospect Notebook last week. My section on the Pirates this month was on Greensboro right-handed pitching prospect Jared Jones, and a key in-game adjustment he made in a recent outing.
**Over at Pittsburgh Baseball Now, Danny Demilio had a look at right-handed pitching prospect Justin Meis. Back here at Pirates Prospects, Anthony Murphy had a breakdown of the three-pitch mix from Meis.
**At DK Pittsburgh Sports, Cory Giger leads their baseball team in a new feature that keeps track of their top ten prospects each week, every Tuesday.
THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS
Tomorrow’s article drop is a good one, with a preview of the FCL and DSL teams, along with some interesting player features.
Last week, my plan was to get the paywall on the site put back in place. That plan was moved to this week. Look for that to take place at some point this week, though it might be after I make Pirates Twitter explode, I guess.
Ultimately, with this new site, I’m looking to diversify away from myself. I was fortunate, based on this site’s publishing schedule, that I got COVID on Wednesday. A few days earlier, and the article drop that week might be in jeopardy.
I think the publishing routine we have now is strong. There will probably be a few more tweaks to the formula this month after learning from this last week.
The big takeaway last week was the experience with the timing of my break. There were a lot of times the last few years where I was happy to walk away from the computer when the latest article was done, and it was difficult to get back for the next one.
I’m now back to the point where only a plague could tear me away.
So, if you thought the site was going well lately, realize that’s just the warmup.
We’ll see you tomorrow for the article drop!
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.