John recently announced that I would be taking over for Matt Garrioch as the new MLB Draft writer for MinorLeagueBall.com. Not sure I want to call myself an expert yet, just a serious hobbyist. I look forward to doing great things for John and this site. Matt leaves some big shoes to fill, as he made this site a go-to destination for MLB Draft coverage. Without him taking over MLB Bonus Baby from Andy Seiler many moons ago, I likely would have never been this interested in the draft, nor would I have the opportunity that's been presented to me. So thank you, Matt.
For my first post, I decided to do two things. One, I wanted to give you a bit of my personal background. And two, I'd like to open up to you guys for suggestions in the type of coverage you want to see.
I was born and raised in upstate New York, and became a Yankees fan at a young age. There wasn't much to like about their team in the late 80s/early 90s, but I was a book nerd and history buff in the making. I would check out baseball books from the library, and most of them were about the Yankees (although I did enjoy reading about dem Bums of Brooklyn). A history filled with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford, among many others, was an easy route to fandom.
Around the same time, I became a baseball card collector. From the beginning, my favorite cards were those marked as rookies - the Rated Rookies of Donruss, the Rookie Trophy cards of Topps, the Future Stars of Upper Deck. Then I got a Beckett monthly magazine, and noticed rookie card prices were higher than the stars of baseball many times. Cha-ching! The though of making money of baseball cards was quite enticing as a kid. Going into my teenage years, I started buying Bowman Baseball exclusively, because they had the most rookie cards.
In high school I had limited access to the internet - at school and at an aunt and uncle's house. ESPN was a go-to site for me, and John Sickels's Down on the Farm became a quick favorite. I got to read about all those prospects that I had found in packs of Bowman. Especially the Yankees youngsters - Ruben Rivera, Nick Johnson, Mike Lowell, D'Angelo Jimenez, et cetera, et cetera. Then ESPN decided they didn't need John anymore. Thankfully I, and many others, did.
John started this site in 2005, and I was the 4th person to sign up - you used to be able to see your User ID number. By this point, I was married, with two daughters, going back to school to finish up my Bachelor's degree. I read, I absorbed from the periphery, always too unsure of myself to participate. I wish the search engines went beyond 2011, so that I could find my first post (my first fanpost was asking John to do a prospect retro of a recently retired Ryan Klesko back in 2008). But I know it took a few years before I did. Once I did, it became an addiction. I was loving the interaction, learning from other users, sharing my own thoughts, having users I respect validate those thoughts.
Naturally, interest in MLB prospects became a gateway to a budding interest in amateur prospects. First, by following the draft, watching what John and others said about the players picked. Then, by following Baseball America's coverage, along with Andy Seiler's work before Matt took over and upped the draft coverage game around here. Adding in Baseball Prospectus, Chris Crawford, Kylie McDaniel, Frankie Piliere, and Perfect Game along the way.
In 2011, I decided I knew just enough to be dangerous, and signed up for the community mock draft, and I've participated every year since. I shared my first draft rankings in 2013. That was the same year I started looking at historical draft tendencies of each team, something I've updated each year since 2013. I also wrote a series looking at potential targets in the first round for teams based on these draft tendencies. That is something I will look to do more of in this position.
In the past few years, I've gone from a draft novice to a dedicated draft follower. I only did it because I was interested in it. Because I love baseball, and I love following the youngsters chasing their dreams of playing in the big leagues. Because of baseball cards with gaudy rookie tags. And because of John Sickels, whose writing has been a constant in my life since high school in the late 1990s.
So I want to thank John for giving me this opportunity. I want to thank all of you for your knowledge, your interaction, hell even your critiques - because they've made what I've said valuable and important to others. I look forward to continuing to engage with all of you, and to make this site a premier destination for baseball draft talk. And to all of those users lurking in the periphery - jump in, the water's warm! And you never know where it will take you.
Now, on to point #2 - what type of content do you, the readers, want to see here in regards to the draft? I have some thoughts, but I'd love to hear your ideas. Please share with me in the comments.