About a month ago, I received an email from someone who was interested in beginning a “career” of writing about prospects. I have been asked this question before, but I really didn’t know how to respond. I’m going to try and respond.
Dear Dana (name changed to protect the innocent),
Thanks for taking the time to reach out to me. It always warms the cockles of my heart that other people find prospects as interesting as I do.
I wanna first say that my path to doing this is probably going to be different than how you will do it, because I got lucky. I became online friends with a guy who asked me to write an article or two for his site, and then that guy fired me, so I started my own site, but then the guy who fired me and another guy recommended me for a really big site, and then someone liked my work at that site so I started writing for this site. In between was a lot of hard work, sure, but I did get lucky. I count my blessings everyday.
So, here’s some helpful tips I have if you’re really serious about writing about prospects. If some of these also apply to day-to-day life, that’s great.
Talk to as many people as you can. Scouts. Evaluators. Former players. Talk to them. Get their input. See what they see in a player that you don’t. Apply that information.
But don’t let anyone talk you out of a feeling for a player. Trust your gut. Use people you talk to as tiebreakers, maybe, but ultimately go with what you think is the right call.
Be open-minded. Be willing to listen. Even if you don’t agree with what someone says, be willing to listen to the information. Be especially open-minded about advanced stats. These numbers can really help.
But stick to your convictions. And don’t stat-scout. Use the numbers, don’t let the numbers use you. Our job is not to dismiss the metrics, nor is it our job to blindly accept them. Our job is to find out WHY the numbers are the way they are, and if it’s sustainable.
Be nice. I can’t stress this one enough. Treat people with respect. Your hot-take zinger isn’t worth burning a bridge with a team, or a scout, or a writer, or a fan. I’m not saying to lie or to dumb things down, but there’s a right way to go about doing this, and in general, the nice way is the right way to go.
Don’t feel bad if you can’t go to a game every day. Or every two days. Or every week. Go to as many games as you can go to realistically. There’s nothing better than the live experience. That being said, you can still get lots of good stuff from video and if you build relationships with others, you can get a lot of video.
Be organized. I won’t tell you how to organize, but you better have some sort of system when you’re going to games and writing. If you try and wing it, ESPECIALLY first starting out, you’re gonna have a miserable time.
Oh, and videotape as much as you can. Especially when you’re starting out. If you don’t have a camera, you have a cellphone with a camera. It’s 2016. Record as many swings as you can. Record as many pitches as you can. Go back and watch those videos and tapes. Be diligent.
Be convincing in your reports. This is one I struggle with, Dana. I really do. But you can’t be afraid to say what’s on your mind. Don’t rely on the 45 grade as a crutch. Some teams don’t even allow 45 grades, because they want to know if the tool is average or below-average. I think that’s a mistake, I think there are times where the inbetween is necessary, but I also see their point. If you really wanna succeed in this business, make definitive calls. Don’t hot-take it, don’t make the call because it’ll get you attention, but make the call because you believe that’s what the player is.
Be optimistic. I truly believe you can’t succeed in this field as a pessimist. I truly believe you can’t be a successful person in this world being a pessimist. Don’t look for the worst in a player. When the flaw(s) come, they come. Hope that every player is gonna be great. Hope that every prospect is going to work out. Hope that every draft pick was the right one for their respective club. We know it’s not going to happen, but when we go in assuming something bad’s going to happen, I mean, doesn’t that just sound miserable? Why would you WANT a prospect to fail?
And finally, my last piece of advice for you, Dana. Don’t. Don’t do it unless you really love it. Now look, I just said a bunch of stuff about positivity and how important it is, but I gotta be honest with you, Dana. This is a niche industry, and it is brutal, and it is unmerciful. It will take what seems like a dream job and make you wonder what the point of all of this is.
And this is true about anything in life. Don’t do any job that makes you miserable. I did one ten years ago for a company, a company that rhymes with guest flies. I was very good at this job. But this job made me so miserable that one day, I bought a plane ticket to Las Vegas and I tried to drink myself to death. Thankfully, it didn’t work. Thankfully, I got help. Thankfully, I came to the realization that life is really short, so you shouldn’t end it early, and you damn sure shouldn’t spend it doing something you don’t love. So if you love this, Dana, do it. Start a blog, write about players, make lists, and link those things to different writers and use the hashtags to grow the popularity. But only if you love it.
I hope this helps,
P.S. This was my final article as Senior Prospect Writer for Baseball Prospectus. Thank you to everyone who read my stuff, bought the draft guide, followed me on Twitter, commented on an article, alerted me to my silly mistakes, so on and so forth. Thank you to Sam Miller for hiring me. Thank you to Craig Goldstein for editing me. Thank you to a bleep-ton of writers for inspiring me, but particularly R.J. Anderson, because he is a huge reason I was able to do this for a year and a half. Thank you to the prospect team for pretty much everything. And once again, thank you to you. You guys have been amazing, and while I wish I was going to stay for quite a bit longer, I’ll always appreciate these 18 months. The best to all of you.
Thank you for reading
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