ALTOONA, PA – Two years ago at this time, I traveled to Greensboro and Altoona.
At the time, I wasn’t confident in my reporting skills. I didn’t go to school for journalism. I don’t have the internal need to be the person distributing information to the crowd. My focus has always been business, and I’ve done this independently for 15 years because I’ve been training on business simulations since I was 13 years old.
What I ended up getting during that trip was the story of the Pirates individual development process. It almost seemed too easy. Either I am the best reporter in this town covering the Pirates, with the ability to get information no one else can get; Or, I was being fed information that would sound good.
I held the story. Three months later, Jason Mackey and Alex Stumpf reported the same thing I found. I decided to run my story in January 2022, as the first article drop on this site, to establish my coverage point going forward.
Last year at this time, I traveled to Greensboro and Altoona.
This time, I went in with the idea that maybe I am the best reporter in this town. Maybe I see things that no one else can see on the field, because no one else in this town has my level of knowledge of this game. I had another reporter joining me in Altoona that year, and that reporter wrote his Endy Rodriguez story based off my questions. I only agreed to group interviews because, to be quite honest, I love a challenge. This challenge: Can I produce a better story than other writers, even when they get the same base level information?
My article drop from that coverage highlighted Endy Rodriguez as the best prospect in the system, with a few views that were early at the time, and which are showing to be accurate a year later.
I just wrapped up two weeks on the road, in Greensboro and Altoona.
I’ve got 26 interviews to sift through when I get home.
Every outlet sent a reporter to cover Paul Skenes. Every one of those reporters had a chance to write the same stories I’m going to write about the other players in the Altoona clubhouse. I’ve yet to write anything on Skenes, but I already know that no one even picked up on what I’m going to write about. I’ve yet to see it discussed anywhere.
My focus for the upcoming month is writing those individual stories. My own coverage approach is to respect and honor the individual people involved here. I’m aiming to tell you the individual development stories of everyone I talked with over the last two weeks.
From there, the elephant in the room is how this all ties together, and what it says about the Pirates’ chances of winning. This is where I absolutely know that my perspective provides the most value. No one has spent more time around this development system than me. I know the flaws that needed to be fixed, and I know how much exact progress the Pirates have made.
During the month of September, my focus will be the individual player reports, but more importantly, an assessment of how this individual development approach is working.
**In probably the biggest news of the day, the Pirates could have their TV rights owned by the company that owns the Boston Red Sox. The Pirates would be faced with a choice. The first option is to allow Fenway Sports Group to manage their Pittsburgh-based Regional Sports Network. In this scenario, they’d be shown with the Penguins, who are owned by Fenway Sports Group. The alternative is to allow MLB to manage the broadcast rights for 80% of the current deal.
In short, the Pirates either give 20% of their local TV deal to MLB, or they allow the company that owns the Boston Red Sox to manage how much money they make.
What should happen is MLB should take over every team’s TV rights, and divide the money equally.
**Dejan Kovacevic’s latest column looks at four years of this rebuild for the Pirates. Dejan and I have always been on opposite ends of the spectrum in how we view baseball. He looks at things from a Pittsburgh perspective. I look at things from a Pirates perspective. The difference is that he looks at the city’s team, and I look at what a team should do independent of any city. That said, we’re not far off in our views right now.
I’ll have some thoughts later this week, after spending the last two weeks reporting on the heart of the player development system.
The biggest thing that stood out to me from that article:
Of all the backward Ks, Shelton had this to say afterward: “I think, at times, we get too passive. I think, at times, you look at pitches that are called strikes that may not be, and people get criticized for it. I think with young players, we have to have that fine line between being passive and being aggressive. I think today we got executed against. As good as our young hitters have been at times, I think we saw some young at-bats today.”
The Pirates being too passive is the single biggest concern I can find throughout the system. There are different levels of this issue in the various aspects of the Pirates’ massive organization. I’ll go into details of what that means in my upcoming column, which you should expect by the end of the week.
First, I’m driving home today.
Then, I’m turning 40 tomorrow, so don’t expect to see me online.
Once I’m finished with my September writing, I’m going to evaluate my health and desire to do this any longer.
This is no country for old bloggers.
QUICK PIRATES RECAP
PIRATES (58-73) VS Cubs
Score: Cubs 10, Pirates 1
Pittsburgh Starter: Bailey Falter, LHP (5.04)
–Line: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR
Player of the Game: Josh Palacios, LF (2-for-3, BB)
- Ji Hwan Bae, 2B (1-for-3, 2B, 3 K)
- Cody Bolton, RHP (2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K)
One Sentence Recap: It’s good to see Cody Bolton pitching well, at least.
DAILY VIDEO RUNDOWN
I’m not doom and gloom on the Pirates going forward. I think their development has been slow, but steady in a positive direction. The biggest sign of hope I can see in Pittsburgh:
Welcome to the Ke show. pic.twitter.com/idg037eyps
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) August 26, 2023
AROUND THE SYSTEM
Jared Jones struck out ten batters in his latest start, allowing one run in six innings.
I had my final reports from Altoona in Sunday’s Prospect Watch. I’ll have a lot of features from this level throughout the month of September.
I’ll also have a lot of reports from Greensboro throughout the month of September. These two levels are the heart of the development system. There’s a reason I cover them every year at this time.
I might try to watch Bradenton for a few games to end the season. My body can’t really take the heat or humidity of covering games in Florida, so I’ve yet to go to Bradenton this season. On a related note, I’ll be bummed to leave Pennsylvania and the high heat levels that are still below what it feels like outside at 3 AM in Florida.
The DSL Pirates Gold won the first game of the DSL semi-finals. For the full action on Sunday, check out the Prospect Watch.
SONG OF THE DAY
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.