Scouting Book: Tools and info to help your fantasy baseball team.
Scouting Book is updated daily and always expanding with new info and insights on rookies, breakouts, prospects and pros. Now featuring 'The Book' on more than 500 prospects, the new at-a-glance Closer Watch grid, and the sortable, multi-ranked Prospect Matrix.
Closer Watch 2.0 is Now Live
No matter whether you're a fantasy player or just a hardcore baseball fan, relief pitching is probably one of your biggest frustrations. Relievers are notoriously flaky, and their grip on the job is usually a weak one: some teams will replace their setup men and closers not just once, but many times per season. Meanwhile, fans and fantasy players lose hair over each blown save or meltdown, and hope that some new pitcher in the minor leagues will be their team's late-inning salvation... someday. Complete Article
Our New Farm Strength Index Measures Overall Minor League Might
If there's anything we love more than baseball here at Scouting Book, it's building new tools we can use to study and follow baseball from new angles. Today, we're taking the wraps off our newest favorite toy, a tool to measure and track the overall strength of all 30 MLB minor league systems. Complete Article
Can a 'Perfect' Roster Get Even Better?
No team has done a better job building a home-made contender than the Washington Nationals. Unlike many franchises that throw all-in for a win-now season or two, cashing in and cashing out prospects and veterans as the winds dictate, the Nats have used prudence and caution to build a solid foundation of core players that should keep the club in contention for most of the next decade. Complete Article
With So Much Betrayal, Why Do Fans Even Bother?
They say some victims stay with abusive partners because they adjust to the mistreatment as if it's some new kind of normal. If that's the case, Marlin season-ticket holders must be studies in the Stockholm Syndrome. No matter how poorly the team treats its supporters with big promises followed by big selloffs, fans keep coming back anyway. Even in the worst-attended ballpark in the country, hundreds (even thousands) of fans still, somehow, believe. The Marlins are proof of one of the oldest maxims in the game: Baseball always survives, no matter how hard ownership tries to kill it. Complete Article
Can a Thin Farm Sustain an Aging Team?
Some MLB ballclubs veer from plan-A to plan-B and back again as each season passes. The Phillies, contrarily, have been resolute with their corporate philosophy. The team drafts the best overall athletes possible, without regard to their MLB-readiness or their own positional needs. The team also drafts pitching that is predominantly left-handed, presumably to increase their odds of catching the next Cole Hamels in a bottle. Complete Article
Atlanta Youth Factory is Producing, Big-Time
One way a team can leverage a powerful farm is by populating their big league roster with the best young ballplayers possible. Home-drafted and grown players represent an enormous cost savings when compared with similarly-skilled veterans, leaving much more of the budget available to deal with shortcomings as they arise. The Braves have excelled at this kind of management, never shy about bringing in one or two expensive free agents if it's needed to get them to the playoffs. Complete Article
The Upside of Anger: A Richer Farm
It's tough to be a Mets fan. The team has either traded away most of its top players, or allowed them to walk away in free agency. (Either way, they usually seem to end up in Toronto.) Meanwhile, the team has finished fourth in the NL East for four consecutive seasons, with ever-worsening records each year, and ownership keeps cutting payroll. Complete Article
Spart Parts, Broken Hearts in Milwaukee
The Milwaukee Brewers are an interesting case study, at least from a postmortem perspective. A team that made all the classic 'win now' moves to compete in recent seasons fell short, creating two problems: a legion of heartbroken fans, and a farm system depleted by trade. Complete Article
Alone, They're Lethal. As a Team...?
In 2012, the Pirates were one of the strangest rides in baseball, and the strangeness went far deeper than their unexpected run at contention. The team that looked like a playoff candidate in July before collapsing was even more surprising in the minor league department, where the organization suffered a series of embarrassing turns. Complete Article
Classy, Crafty and Clever, the Cards Keep Shining
By some reckoning, today's St. Louis Cardinals are the original farming baseball team, so it's not a surprise the team has the league's longest tradition of finding and developing its own young talent. This tradition is visible in the MLB ballclub of today. Complete Article
We Have a Blueprint, and We're Sticking To It
There are two kinds of awful in baseball: awful on the field, and awful in the front office. The Cubs of the modern era have been both, but ownership might just have found a way to turn the lovable losers into winners after all. It'll take more than a draft or two to fix this system, but the Cubs finally have management in place that knows how to build effective winners. New President and GM team Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have already shown then can deal with century-long curses by rebuilding the Red Sox in order to finally solve their World Series drought. Now, reunited again, they will have a similarly healthy budget and free rein to do the same with the similarly-cursed Cubs. It'll take a couple of years, but we like their chances. Complete Article
So Much Talent: Where Will the Kids Play?
The NL Central has been one of the tightest divisions in baseball for the last decade, and 2013 doesn't look to be much different. With at least four teams having a shot at the division title, it should be an exciting season. Complete Article
As Above, So Below?
Maybe it's coincidence, or maybe it really is all about organizational DNA. Whatever the reason, the Colorado Rockies farm looks a lot like its parent ballclub. While it's possible to find a little of everything on the farm if you look hard enough, it's impossible not to notice that the team has more hitters on tap than pitchers, and many of those hitters are of the big-fly variety that could very well succeed at Coors Field. Complete Article
Small Market Lexicon: Great Names, Great Potential
In modern MLB, small market teams can compete with richer ones by identifying untapped value opportunities. (Today on Jeopardy: "What is Moneyball?") In San Diego, it's definitely become a sort of religion. The team has unflinchingly traded away expensive veterans, even at the peak of their ability, in order to stock their pantry with undervalued talent totaling a much greater overall value. Complete Article
With Quiet Competence, Arizona Tools Up
Way under the radar of the country's big market cities and their big media attention, quiet competence has built one of MLB's best-run franchises in Phoenix. Piece by piece, the Arizona Diamondbacks have constructed one of the best talent pipelines in baseball, and it's high time they're recognized for their great work. Perhaps a few years of pennant runs will do it. Complete Article
With So Many Stars, Who Will Think of the Children?
No team shook up the baseball power structure as much as the Dodgers did in 2012. Fueled by new owners with deep pockets, the team swung two of the biggest trades in memory in midseason by dealing from their deep farm to land all-star veterans from the suddenly-rebuilding Red Sox and eternally-hapless Marlins. Complete Article
We've Got the World Series Playbook Right Here
Don't ever mess with a hot streak. That's the rule the Giants have been following, and based on the results, it's a good one. San Francisco has won two of the last three World Series championships, after all, and has done it the same way each time: take a core of young home-grown talent, and punch it up with a few shrewd veteran signings to fill short-term needs. Complete Article
Detroit's 2013 Lineup: The Future is Now!
If you're a major league GM and your owner tells you to go for it now, what do you do? You sign the best possible free agents, and when that still doesn't give you all you need, you start using every minor league trading chip you have to build the most powerful right-now ballclub you can. Complete Article
A Couple of Boppers in a Shallow System
Some teams pride themselves on their farm systems, and their own in-house ability to populate and compete with a budget-controlled home-grown roster. And then there's Chicago. Complete Article
Lots of Small Parts, and One Big Name
With the possible exception of the shocking Blue Jays, no team did more this offseason to overhaul their MLB roster than the Cleveland Indians. The Indians added pitching, hitting and bench depth up and down the roster, enough that some now expect them to contend in the always-tight AL Central. Complete Article
The Royals Make a Big Move. Is It Enough?
Very recently, the Royals had some of the most sought-after prospects in all of baseball. Some of those prospects are with the MLB club today. Three of the biggest, however, are now members of the Tampa Bay Rays, obtained in a massive midwinter trade that brought MLB-ready pitching to Kansas City at the price of a somewhat-mortgaged future. Complete Article
A Thinning System Still Has Some Muscle
In recent years, it sometimes seemed that the once-great Twins minor league system had dried up completely. Few phenoms attracted interest in trade talks, and when the MLB Twins of 2011 and 2012 floundered and needed help badly, they couldn't find much from within. After two seasons in a row of ninety plus losses, the team could really use a fresh injection of hope. Complete Article
Post-Collapse, The Other Empire Rebuilds
After one of the most memorable implosions in recent memory, the Boston Red Sox decided to go all-in, blowing up the team as well as the front office in an attempt to get back to the Moneyball-esque roots that finally reversed the curse for the team a decade ago. Complete Article
Sharp Drafting, Sharper Trades Keep Rays on Top
Tampa Bay has been a prospect factory almost since the team's inception as the ill-fated but much-cooler-sounding Devil Rays back in 1998. That doesn't look likely to change in the near future: this remains a very rich farm, stocked with some of the top prospects in baseball. Complete Article
Five Aces? How About Just One?
In making their unlikely run at a title in 2012, the Baltimore Orioles famously had 'five aces' down the stretch, as seven or eight starting pitchers each took their turns stepping up and pitching like a true number one as needed. The team's group-first mentality was both inspiring and inspired, as it helped the ragtag assembly of veterans, has-beens and second-tier youngsters exceed every expectation all the way to the playoffs. Complete Article
Can The Farm Help the Empire Man Up?
As many have reported, the once-dominant New York Yankees are looking more than a little vulnerable lately, and a decade of selling off their young players for win-now veterans has come at a high cost. The Yankee farm today is one of baseball's weaker systems, with only a few likely stars and not many more who look even replacement-level viable. Combine that with a lackluster offseason in which the team patched holes but did little to improve, and it's no wonder Bronx faithful are fidgeting in their overpriced seats just a little more than usual. Complete Article
Even After a Buying Spree, the Farm Has Talent Left
After a crazy winter trading session, the Blue Jay farm might look like a ghost town, complete with tumbleweeds where baseball players used to be. But dig deep enough, and there are still prospects worthy of attention here. And by 'here', we mean lower down on this web page. Complete Article
Poor, Poor Rangers: Too Many Bats for One Lineup
It's really been something to watch the Texas Rangers. Ever since the team freed itself from Alex Rodriguez's monster contract, the Rangers have built up a real AL dynasty piece by piece. Even the departure of super-slugger Josh Hamilton and former franchise face Michael Young shouldn't slow them down much, not with the wealth of talent in the minor league pipeline, not to mention the still-stacked MLB roster. Complete Article
A's Farm Continues to Supply Spare Parts As Needed
Somehow, the Oakland A's keep on finding ways to surprise fans and baseball writers. Last year's Bad News A's fell only a hair short of pulling themselves to a championship pennant despite few 'experts' giving them a chance, not even at midseason. But after a decade plus of 'improbable' success, shouldn't we all save our collective shock for a time in which Billy Beane actually fails to get maximum value from the franchise? Complete Article
No Encores to Mike Trout, But Some Useful Pieces
The Los Angeles Angels, by opening their wallets wider than nearly any other team in baseball for the past few seasons, have built a powerful lineup and a solid enough rotation to keep the team in perennial playoff contention. They've consistently traded to fill MLB holes and upgrade whenever possible, giving manager Mike Scioscia all the tools he needs to grind his way to the top of the standings year after year. Complete Article
Keith Law and Jon Mayo Contribute to a Picture Too Big for One Man
It's that time of year again. Professors, Prognosticators and just plain Prospectors are all starting to publish their own Top 100 Lists, each purporting to be best, most accurate review of baseball's next best things. Complete Article
Growing on Houston Time Takes Texas-Sized Patience
When the Astros were forced into the American League as a condition of their ownership change, more than just Houston area fans groaned. All of baseball had the same reaction, public or not: this is not a team ready to compete in the AL West, full of big bats and deep pockets. If the team contributes anything to AL baseball in the next few years, it'll be making the Seattle Mariners look mighty in comparison. Complete Article
From Boeing-Sized to Bandbox, Will Pitchers Adjust?
Collectively, Seattle supporters must be growing a little tired of waiting. The team has floundered season after season, with little to bring out the crowds other than Felix Hernandez every fifth day. The glory days of Johnson, Griffey, Buhner and company now feel like a very distant memory, and a recent move to shorten the outfield porches to improve offense might smell a little like desperation. Complete Article
Closing the Book on 2012, and a Few Thoughts on the Year Ahead
Forget December. The end of the world for baseball fans happens at the end of October, when everything is settled but a few shiny trophies, and at least 93 percent of fans are officially waiting for that mythical Next Year. Complete Article
Beneath Late-Season Pennant Moves, Foundations Shift
If you're like most baseball fans this week, you're still a bit staggered by all the trades pulled off before yesterday's deadline, especially the ones that rebalanced (?) the National League West. But there's another side to all the wheeling and dealing: the future impact.
American League Teams Also Rake in Talent
The big winners in last month's draft are familiar names: ballclubs who seem to excel at drafting young talent. For some, that's because they have a special aptitude for farming. For others, it's more about a predilection for finishing in the bottom of the standings, and therefore being in permanent rebuilding mode. Complete Article
Three Senior Circuit Clubs Trump Field
Now that most of the dust has settled and most of the top picks have signed with their new owners, we're still looking back and combing over the details of each MLB club's draft selections, especially with regard to how their restocking choices impact their overall farm systems. Complete Article
Scouting Reports for Round 2 Picks Now Online
Players drafted in the first round of MLB's annual amateur draft are generally expected to perform at the major league level someday, and most of them eventually do just that. Because of those odds, the simple fact of being a first rounder virtually ensures a player of having top-flight prospect status for at least a year or two to come, time enough for that prospect to prove he's worth the consideration. It's almost the same for players taken in the 1A Supplemental Round: these players are generally expected to perform and justify their big signing bonuses. But once the second round rolls around, things are no longer quite that cut and dried. Complete Article
Scouting Reports for All 1A Picks Now Online
Baseball's Supplemental Draft rounds are designed to 'compensate' teams who lose valuable players to free agency. While the definition of 'valuable' is somewhat slippery, there's no doubt that the St Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers benefitted from this setup in 2012. While it's unlikely the players selected will really ever offset the loss of Albert Pujols or CJ Wilson, it does provide a little bit of balancing. Complete Article
Big Winners at the Draft? Maybe.
The 2012 MLB Amateur Draft has now come and gone, and with the dust settled, it's an excellent time to start thinking about how the Draft has impacted some of the weaker farm systems in baseball. Did they improve enough to contend, or are they still a few drafts away from viability? Here's a look at the draft moves of the more interesting teams to watch as they rebuild, retool, or otherwise attempt to bootstrap themselves into contention. Complete Article