I’ve always tried to be transparent about my plans for this site.
This site started as an idea and grew from there into a small scale media network. It developed from a belief that it could pay my phone bill, into a site that allowed me to pay other people for their sports writing and photography.
As I reviewed the traffic on Monday morning, I noticed that the site has been visited by over 425,000 people across 188 countries in 2022. Comparatively, that’s already about 75,000 people more than we had in the entire year in 2018. You might remember that being the year where I wrote about how I worried the site might not survive.
Looking back on that year, traffic to the site peaked at the end of April, and again at the trade deadline with the Chris Archer acquisition. Those peaks were temporary moments. The traffic dropped that year in a big way after April. Comparatively, traffic this year has been much higher than 2018 since the month of May.
It’s also been higher than 2017. The traffic in July started hitting 2015-2016 levels, which were our best years.
I updated Pirates Prospects in recent weeks to a new design, aimed at allowing you to easier browse our content. The early results show that… well, the old site design must have really sucked. Traffic last week, for example, was pushing close to 2014 territory, which was our biggest year — and the year that pushed me to decide to move this to a subscription site.
In 2014, we had 763,000 readers. We will probably be about 300,000 shy of that amount this year. Switching to a paywall-only for the better part of a decade will lose you some readers. Fortunately, people still know who we are. The way traffic is trending right now, I’m anticipating half a million visitors to Pirates Prospects in 2023, and there are several scenarios where I could see that figure going up to 2014 levels.
We have the benefit of being around for 14 Pittsburgh Pirates seasons, and still putting out a product that is unique in a vast universe of Pittsburgh Pirates content. The thing about that traffic is that only a small percentage will pay for content.
I removed the paywall with this new design. The site is completely free, which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if we exceed that half-million projection next year. I’ve been working through the best ways to monetize the site long-term, to make sure that the site can grow as I want it to, long-term. The best way to do that would be to reintroduce advertising to the site.
I say that with the disclaimer that I do not want advertising to clutter or overstimulate the site. I don’t want video ads, pop-ups, autoplays, expanders, or anything else that could make me a ton of money, and make you a ton annoyed. Because we — the producers, authors, contributors, and photographers of this site — well, we browse this site, too. And I can’t tell you how much the last site design absolutely sucked for me!
Over the next month, I’ll be reintroducing advertising to the site. The end goal will be to have an option so that anyone who contributes $X or more to the site will bypass ads. Anyone who has already contributed will be grandfathered in. That figure will be a low amount. I don’t know how long it will take to implement that Ad-Free Option.
What I do know is that this decision is going to move Pirates Prospects away from the subscription model for good. I floated the idea a few weeks ago that we might return to that model in the future. However, I really don’t like running a subscription site. Eventually, this void will be filled in a much different way by PittsburghBaseball.com.
For now, I’m very optimistic about the response to Pirates Prospects this month. I’m thankful of the support we’ve had over the years, and continue to have, even as I “mad scientist” all of this with live testing of what works and what doesn’t.
I was born in a town of 300 people, and the biggest area I lived in before this site had 10,000 people. It doesn’t seem real to me that we see more weekly visitors to this site than the population of my area growing up. It also feels like a special responsibility to oversee this site, which has grown well beyond what I could have originally imagined.
I hope that you consider Contributing a few dollars to our work, and check back frequently to see what we have lined up for you.
Here is what we had last week, and if you jump below, you’ll find the preview for the upcoming week.
LAST WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS
If you go to the Pirates Prospects homepage, you’ll see a section that says “PIRATES PROSPECTS WEEKLY: AN EVOLVING MAGAZINE, UPDATES DAILY AT NOON.”
First of all, that promise to update daily at noon terrifies me as a chronically late person. If I’ve gone through a week posting every P2Daily at midnight, and every P2Weekly at noon, it’s the equivalent to a pitcher throwing a shutout. Throwing shutouts every week? That feels daunting. It almost makes me want to post one article a week late to remove the stress from the other days.
But I want to focus on that word “Evolving”, because I put some thought into that word choice. Pirates Prospects Weekly is an idea meant to focus our featured coverage, so it doesn’t get lost in the daily grind of transactions. The P2Weekly focus is actually “Revolving”, as the entire site revolves around it, and it’s a set of features that continuously update in a weekly loop. But the content itself each week is “Evolving”. I think this week with the Rule 5 draft is a prime example.
A week ago in this Monday spot, I had no clue who the Pirates were going to protect. I knew that Ethan Hullihen had just given an amazing rundown of the eligible players the day prior. I also knew that Dariel Lopez deserved to be highlighted in some form during this process, which led to a conversation about Carlos Jimenez in the comments and in P2Daily on Tuesday.
By Tuesday night, everyone knew who the Pirates had protected. Our coverage of the topic then shifted to reacting to the certainty of the situation. I emailed out the Roundtable idea, and on Thursday, we had a Roundtable looking at who the Pirates could lose in the Rule 5. Jeff Reed had the post-Rule 5 40-man roster update in Friday’s Pirates Discussion. Ethan wrapped it all up with a look at the Rule 5 minor league reserve list, as the P2Weekly schedule revolved back around.
In this business, most of these articles become obsolete a day or two after they run. For most readers, it’s on to the next one. Typically, our weekly coverage isn’t going to be short-term focused, though this past week wasn’t a typical week.
Even on this site, where our articles have an “Evergreen” quality, it can be easy for things to get lost in the mix. One of my favorite articles I did this year was my feature on Endy Rodriguez in August. Nothing has really changed in the three months since that feature, except that Rodriguez performed so well over the remainder of the season that the article about his breakout seems obvious now. A lot of people read that feature, but a week later there were new features and it was buried. A week later there were new features, and it was buried further. Especially with daily features running during those two weeks.
In short: I know that it’s very easy to miss content on this site, unless you check it every day, and often. The P2Weekly schedule is aimed to keep you in the loop of how things are progressing through the farm system, with the necessary context if you don’t check the site daily.
Another way our weekly coverage “evolved” last week was in the non-Rule 5 coverage.
Last Tuesday, our Article Drop had a theme of system recaps.
John Dreker recapped the Pirates prospects in the Arizona Fall League, which featured the 2019, 2020, and 2021 first rounders standing out. Anthony Murphy recapped the progress of the 2019, 2020, and 2021 draft classes. John also had a recap of our Yearly, Monthly, and Weekly award winners in 2022.
If you read all of those, you’ll get a feel of how the Pirates’ rebuild is going from the minor league level. I followed those articles and the Rule 5 moves with a look at how it’s time for the Pirates to start opening the window by adding a mid-tier free agent this offseason.
John also had his Pirates Winter Report at the end of the week, with a well-timed feature on Diego Castillo a day after the Kevin Newman trade. That article is designed as a weekly winter update, with room for a feature on a different player. Castillo was the subject before Newman was traded, so his choice wasn’t planned. We were just in position to give a timely update on one of Newman’s potential replacements, which is something that happens often on this site.
This “evolving” process is really designed for one big week per month from this site, and the first example of that will be when we update our rankings next month.
THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS
Our article drop tomorrow is going to be very heavy on player features. I’ve got an interesting look at new Pirates reliever Dauri Moreta. Anthony Murphy will be featuring Jared Jones and Nick Garcia. Ryan Palencer has end-of-year features on Indianapolis pitchers Noe Toribio and John O’Reilly.
Wilbur Miller takes a look at some breakout candidates for Bradenton in 2023 on Wednesday. I’ll also have a column of my own. Roundtable on Thursday will also focus on some players whose stock might be on the rise.
As for Friday-Sunday, I guess we will have to wait and see how the week evolves.
FUQUAY VINYL PLAYLIST
I create these playlists each week to give myself a vibe to listen to each week. It’s usually based on what I was listening to the previous week. This blending process also helps me to get in the mindset of producing the weekly content.
In this case, I listened to MF DOOM all weekend, and created a playlist around the albums Operation: Doomsday, Madvillain, and Take Me To Your Leader (my personal favorite from King Geedorah). If you hate skits in your music, you’ll hate this playlist. If you like the breaks from the music, and the DOOM storylines, then I hope you enjoy, fellow villains!
WEEKLY PIRATES QUIZ
I reached 89/90 with a little less than three minutes left on this, and was drawing a blank on the 2017 OBP leader. I remembered and got 90/90 with 36 seconds remaining. What’s your score? Leave it in the comments below.
Pirates Prospects has always been fueled 100% by reader support — whether through a high traffic site that relied on ads, or a full paywall that was supported by over 10,000 subscribers between 2015-2022. With no more paywall, the site is free for everyone. All I ask is that you Contribute at some point in the future to help support our work. We’re not going to impose any pricing limits, content restrictions, or timelines on anyone. We just hope that you enjoy the site and check back often!
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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.