Now that we’re the ranking old-timers on the editorial staff (along with Jim Callis, but he now works out of Chicago), John Manuel and I enjoy reminiscing about the good ol’ days when organization reports came in via 300 baud modem and photos had to be cropped by hand.
While we don’t long for those days, we do sometimes marvel at how much has changed in our time at Baseball America, particularly with the draft. As the Draft Preview issue went to press, we had five of our full-time staffers devoting most of their days to reporting on the draft, and numerous freelancers making contributions as well.
It took us back to the time not too long ago when our coverage consisted of founding editor Allan Simpson closing his office door in late April and calling coaches, scouts and executives across the nation to compile information for our Draft Preview. It’s where the term “draft bunker” emerged in the BA lexicon, which also includes such favorites as “personal cheeseball” and “Ollenberger inflection” and should probably be the subject of another column.
The rest of the staff helped out with feature stories and other draft news, but in large part our draft coverage was done by one person, and was done in a matter of weeks. We kept our eye on the draft all year, but the vast majority of the work came during the six weeks leading up to draft day.
As we all know, that has changed dramatically, first with the steady growth of interest in the draft through fans’ greater focus on player development in general. As fans have become more sophisticated about following their favorite teams and have gained access to more and better information, they want to know more about who’s on the way to the big leagues and how their team is doing at bringing in new talent.
Then came the Internet. We have written plenty about how that has changed things, but it’s impossible to overstate. Our pre-draft scouting reports used to be limited to about eight pages of newsprint—which is the main reason it could be handled by one person.
Now the scouting reports that unfold on the pages that follow are just the beginning of what we’ll write for this year’s draft. Actually, even that’s a misstatement. The beginning of this year’s draft coverage was last summer, when our writers started going to showcases or covering summer college leagues. The scouting reports started then and really never end. You can come to BaseballAmerica.com just about any day of the year and find fresh draft information. It’s a year-round beat now, both because the Web allows us to cover it year-round and because you want it that way.
But draft day remains the pinnacle of the year, and beyond the nearly 100 scouting reports you’ll find in this issue to get you ready for the big day, you’ll find more than twice as many online if you’re a BA subscriber. We’ll post a Top 200 list with full scouting reports for every player, then we’ll go state by state to line up the talent in every corner of the nation. You’ll get information on hundreds of players, not to mention mock drafts updated right up until June 6, breaking news, chats and more.
And this year’s new innovation is one I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss, our All-Time Draft Database. For the first time ever, all of our draft lists are available in one place. Every year our Draft Database is the most comprehensive list of who was drafted and whether they signed, but each data set existed as a separate entity. After years of work, we have combined our modern databases with our archival draft information, and now you can find every draft in one place, from 1965 to now. It’s sortable by a variety of criteria, from name to state to team to year, so you can look back at your team’s first-round picks through the years. And if you’re a subscriber, you can also find scouting reports, signing scouts and signing bonus information. Challenge yourself with draft trivia: Who are the only Mariners first-round picks who didn’t sign? (John Mayberry Jr. in 2002 and Scott Burrell in 1989.) You could amuse yourself for hours.
You have been able to find some of this information in other places online before, but not nearly as comprehensive or accurate. We finally got the information in a condition that satisfied us, and you can enjoy the results. Everyone on the editorial staff who has ever helped input draft results has contributed, with special kudos to Matt Eddy for his work cleaning up the data, and to Brent Lewis for whipping the database itself into shape. It’s an amazing tool, so we hope you’ll go to BaseballAmerica.com/draft and take a long look around.