Saying Hello

We are pleased to announce that Kiley McDaniel will be joining FanGraphs as our lead analyst and writer for all prospect coverage. The full announcement can be found over at InstaGraphs.

Thanks to David Appelman, Dave Cameron and the rest of the FanGraphs team for this opportunity.  I’m excited to tackle this challenge and feel like all my past experience working for MLB organizations and writing for various other outlets has led up to this, with each job giving me a specific tool or experience that will be key for what I want to accomplish here.

My Approach

It works out that baseball prospect writing jobs tend to fill certain roles that scouts fill in a real scouting department.  When I wrote for ESPN, I functioned as an area scout or maybe a regional cross-checker (covering mostly amateur players in a couple of states).  When I wrote for Scout, I functioned as a national cross-checker (covering mostly amateur players with a national focus).  In this new gig for FanGraphs, I will be filling something like the role of a pro scouting director.

I explain this to give you an idea of my aim and posture.  A pro scouting director focuses mostly on giving his GM recommendations for acquisitions of professional players, but many of them also will pitch in on the draft and international markets as their backgrounds and specialties dictate.  I have experience as a writer and club employee in all three markets, so I’ll be covering all three areas.

As is the focus of this site, I’ll be primarily focusing on minor/major league players, evaluating and ranking those players and finding the best way to communicate their ability and trade value.  In this metaphor, that makes the reader the GM.

Another aspect of my job is to help the other FanGraphs prospect writers be in a position to succeed and have us all on the same page, so when their report goes to the GM during the decision making process, I can feel confident in the report without having to rewrite it as my own.

FanGraphs has been great about empowering me with resources and support to make these things a reality and I’m excited about the new ways to evaluate and present talent rankings that we’re working on behind the scenes.

What We’ll Cover

I’ll do plenty of showing and telling in the coming weeks about what my plans are for the prospect end of things here, with some long-term projects already in motion that you won’t hear about for weeks or months.  As for the short-term, here are some bullet points to give you an idea of what to expect.

– Free.  For the frequency and depth of prospect coverage you expect to pay for at other sites, you will have to fork over a total of $0 to read it here.  An overview of the topics I’ll cover:

1) Minor league coverage.  This will be the bulk of my focus, which I’ll be getting into right away (more on that below) and we’ll be publishing as much information as you’ll find anywhere else.

2) Draft coverage.  I’ll be ranking the 2015, 2016 and 2017 classes in a few weeks.  We’ve already had boots on the ground from me and other FG prospect writers at amateur events and you’ll soon see the rankings, reports, videos, rumors and story lines that you’re looking for.

3) Scouting coverage and analysis of big league issues.  While FanGraphs is already the top place on the Internet to find timely, poignant analysis of big league news, sometimes there are issues (be it analysis or mechanical changes, etc.) with a foot firmly in the scouting world where I can perhaps contribute.

4) Video, reports and rumors about the July 2nd international signing, coming at least as early as you’ll find it anywhere else.  I’ll be visiting the Dominican at least once a year to get eyes on the top players.  Here’s some examples of what that looks like from last year (and note the date on each article).

– Expanded.  I’m only one man and much of my focus will be going to our first batch of draft rankings later this month and the ongoing organizational prospect lists, which I’ll begin posting later this week, starting at the bottom of the current MLB standings.

I’ve put together a five-man core group of prospect writers that are spread across the country and come with pedigree, scouting ability and industry connections.  FanGraphs’ new scouting department is going to be at a lot of pro and amateur games and presenting their reports from these games in an organized, easily searchable way (more on this in the coming weeks).

Ron Shah, Austin Diamond, Nathaniel Stoltz, J.D. Sussman and Mark Smith will be the regular contributors.  Hitting mechanics specialist Dan Farnsworth will write from time to time and you already know Carson Cistulli has a niche to fill with our group as well.  I want to keep this team from getting too big just because it can, but I’m always interested in talking to writers that are looking for a bigger platform and compensation for their work.  Tweet at me @kileymcd if you or someone you know may be a fit and I’ll do my best to get in touch.

– Rankings. As I mentioned above, I’m going to start by immediately (later this week) beginning the prospect rankings for each organization and will go 20-30 deep on each organization with reports and tool grades.  If you read my stuff for Scout, you know I like ranking players, and if I had to guess, there’s going to be a ranking of some sort going up every two weeks, if not more often, for the entire year.  Only half of them will be listicle slideshows about cat videos.

Righting Some Wrongs

The 20-80 scouting scale is going to get quite a workout around here.  One of the things that bugs me most about scouting writing on the internet (and I’m as guilty as anyone) is the lack of context.  In some cases that means a writer seeing a start from a pitcher and extrapolating too much from that one outing.  Mostly, what I mean is that when a mainstream MLB fan that wants to know who his team might call-up or a fantasy-geared reader wants to know which prospect to pick up can’t decipher what is being said with all the lingo and inside baseball shortcuts/references.

FanGraphs already does a good job of explaining the statistical offerings at the site and making it easy to learn the amount you want to learn about the various stats. Starting very soon, I’ll be writing a long (probably double-digit part) series explaining every part of the 20-80 scale and how to scout each tool with video examples and some jokes, because baseball is supposed to be fun, right?

There’s a shorthand the online baseball writing community uses for scouting purposes that alienates people that want to learn more, so I’m going to make it as easy as possible to catch up as much as you want to.  I want every reader to still get that feeling that they’re getting a look inside the industry, knowing that you’re seeing reports from people that have written reports for MLB teams, while also having easy-to-find tools to quickly understand what’s being said if you’re new to the topic.

Once you learn about the scouting scale (if you want to), then content like this is catnip, but that article loses its power if a casual reader has no way to learn how to understand it.

A Request

I’ll be doing a weekly podcast with Carson Cistulli, we’ll be building a scouting video library and there’s all kinds of other stuff I could mention, but I’d rather you guys pass judgment as you see it. We’d love to hear your feedback, of course, and make this a collaborative effort. What do you want to see from the FanGraphs prospect coverage? Let us know, and we’ll work on building something you really love.



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Kiley McDaniel has worked in the scouting departments of the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates and has written for ESPN, among other outlets. Follow him on twitter for real-time thoughts on the players he’s seeing and hacky attempts at humor.


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Stringer Bell
Guest
Stringer Bell
2 years 1 month ago

Kiley, it’s great to hear someone is taking over and let me say your first name is awesome. Now, the important question…what is your stance on NotGraphs, and do you plan to bully them into taking it back?

#KeepNotGraphs

Bill
Guest
Bill
2 years 1 month ago

Look forward to hearing a new voice. Oh, and yes, #KeepNotGraphs.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan
2 years 1 month ago

I’m not a big prospect guy, but I have to say I’m more than a little excited about this. Welcome aboard!

Carson Fulmer
Guest
Carson Fulmer
2 years 1 month ago

Can’t wait to read your stuff over here, Kiley. Especially pumped to read it knowing you are so high on the VandyBoys eligible for the 2015 draft. WOOOOOOOOOO

crazy joe davola
Guest
crazy joe davola
2 years 1 month ago

Van Buren Boys?

Lee
Guest
Lee
2 years 1 month ago

This is exciting. Can’t wait for the podcasts!

Powder Blues
Guest
Powder Blues
2 years 1 month ago

This all sounds pretty awesome. Welcome.

Where does this leave Marc Hulet?

Dave Cameron
Admin
Member
2 years 1 month ago

Marc is going to be doing prospect coverage for RotoGraphs. He’s already started, actually, and has been contributing regularly over there for a few weeks now.

ralph
Guest
ralph
2 years 1 month ago

Cool, good to hear.

You know what would probably draw more traffic than listicle slideshows about cat videos? A new Cubs prospect list every day. Maybe even 5 times a day to be safe.

MustBunique
Member
Member
2 years 1 month ago

Welcome Kiley, excited for your series on explaining scouting lingo. I’d wish you best of luck, but from your linked articles it seems like you’re capable of sustaining your high prospect-knowledge BABIP.

SimonSays
Member
SimonSays
2 years 1 month ago

My experience is entirely with amateur scouting reports, so I’ll preface what I’m about to write with that.

I have frequently seen pitchers get a present 7 / future 8 on their fastballs simply because they throw 95. And it seems like the default is to give the pitcher a present 4 / future 5 for pitch movement. I’m sure you’ll explain this in your 20-80 scale post, but are there certain categories that are sort of ignore in the scouting world? Scouts are asked to grade amateurs on their “Baseball Instinct” and basically just throw out a 5, 6, 7, or 8 based on (a) whether or not the player’s family knows baseball and (b) the result of a 4-sided die roll. Or the “Fielding” and “Arm Accuracy” categories seem to be somewhere in 4/5/6 unless you do something amazing or terrible. Do categories like that really matter?

I’ve also notice that hit tools for amateurs tend to be pretty low. Why is that? You hear about someone like a Vogelbach who has a present 4 / future 6 power, which (at the time) contradicted everything I thought I knew about him. But any pitcher who throws 95 gets a free 7/8 on their report. Is it easier to get a higher grade as a pitcher? I hope to hear about this in your future posts.

Shauncore
Member
Shauncore
2 years 1 month ago

In regards to the fastball, the baseline for fastball grades is velocity. Generally low-90’s (90-93) gets a 60 grade then it can be add subtracted from if it have arm side run, movement, life etc… So a flat fastball 92 MPH fastball could be a 55 or one with really good late life might be a 65.

Mark Smith did a nice little article about this a while back: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-20-80-scale-sabr-style/

Johnston
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

I am looking forward to this.

Matthew
Member
2 years 1 month ago

I’m really excited to have you and this new chapter for Fangraphs.

As someone who initially got into the sabermetrics side of things and used, I was initially dissmisive of scouting. But I started reading some scouting stuff and BP and listening the the Up and In podcast with Kevin Goldstein(R.I.P), I realized I was missing half the picture.I feel like Fan graphs and many of its readers rejected scouting because of the lack of coverage and the whole “us vs. them” mentality

There is a reason no team uses strictly an analytics department or strictly a scouting department. Because they both are very important. With this step Fangraphs is becoming a more complete site.

Pokkit
Member
Pokkit
2 years 1 month ago

The video examples of how to scout each thing will be awesome. Really looking forward to those. I’m a big fan of Doug Thorburn over at BPro, so hopefully this can gel with that.

Frank
Guest
Frank
2 years 1 month ago

You didn’t mention my team’s prospects!!!

rabble rabble rabble

Matthew
Member
2 years 1 month ago

I do have a request that is a bit non-tradiontal. I’d absolutely love to see scouting breakdowns on current MLB player in addition to prospects.I feel like players(even favorites) are abandon by prospect writers when they make the jump ton the highest level. Why certain guys are failing while others flourish?

For example Eric Hosmer was suppose to be 7 player as a prospect. In 3 seasons, he was been near or sub-replacement level. Last year, he looked like a first division player. Now sabermetrics, tell us to look at the whole sample and project him as a roughly replacement level player. But given the glimpse and his pedigree, it seems like something is wrong. Or look at a player like Jackie Bradley Jr. Would a scout say he is having trouble adjusting or is he just a fringe major leaguer?

drew
Guest
drew
2 years 1 month ago

this

Bart
Guest
Bart
2 years 1 month ago

Very excited about the video examples as well, always curious to learn more about what goes into a scout’s evaluation

jpg
Guest
jpg
2 years 1 month ago

This sounds awesome.

maqman
Guest
maqman
2 years 1 month ago

A fan of your previous work Kiley and impressed by what you will add to Fangraphs, a good move for all involved. As for NotGraphs I’m not interested.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle
2 years 1 month ago

Looking forward to your work KMD

Stan "The Boy" Taylor
Member
Stan "The Boy" Taylor
2 years 1 month ago

Welcome (back) Kiley! This all sounds great. Between Eno getting his interview card, bringing on Tony Blengino and now this, it is great to see this direction FG is taking toward exposing inside baseball knowledge to the readers. It is really going to balance everyone so we can’t be accused of being too spreadsheet focused.

FG taking over the baseball internet!

#keepnotgraphs

Jason Parks
Guest
Jason Parks
2 years 1 month ago

Wait, What happened to Mike Newman?

Mike Newman
Member
2 years 1 month ago

I have my own thing going at ROTOscouting — Enjoying the hell out of it too!

Ethan
Guest
Ethan
2 years 1 month ago

With this announcement, especially highlighting your team of contributors, is there a possibility of creating a portal for the prospect information to be organized? Like a FarmGraphs or something?

Him
Member
Him
2 years 1 month ago

Yeah! Some place to put the scouting and not data stuff. Anything that can’t be graphed.

#RecycleNotGraphs

Lenard
Member
Member
Lenard
2 years 1 month ago

Agreed, with an expanded team of contributors (even if they only contribute one or two articles per week), having prospect analysis as it’s own separate section would make it easier to find and follow. Especially with all the content that seems to be coming down the pipeline.

And Marc’s analysis from a fantasy perspective can stay at Rotographs (which I already enjoy reading).

Kris
Guest
Kris
2 years 1 month ago

Going to be doing any chats??

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 1 month ago

Is this podcast going to be additional episodes of fangraphs audio, or is it a different podcast?

Fonzarelli
Guest
Fonzarelli
2 years 1 month ago

Hi Kiley – I’ve been following your stuff since you shared a website with Frankie P – it’s been fun following your progress and reading your articles along the way. Best of luck.

n0exit
Guest
n0exit
2 years 1 month ago

This is great. I loved your international coverage this season.

Joseph
Guest
Joseph
2 years 1 month ago

Since when is Kiley a male name?

Jordan
Guest
Jordan
2 years 1 month ago

It’s a beautiful man’s name and don’t you forget it!

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman
2 years 1 month ago

Might I remind you lot of American rabble that Ashley, Lindsey, Allison, Hil(l)ary, and Kelsey were originally proud men’s names.

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 1 month ago

Hello.

#KeepNotGraphs

Rawson Baggs
Guest
Rawson Baggs
2 years 1 month ago

What a great move. I’m so happy I’m almost ready to forgive Dave Cameron for hating my team.

Jason Collette
Guest
Jason Collette
2 years 1 month ago

SaberScouting 4 lyfe

MundoFundo
Guest
MundoFundo
2 years 1 month ago

Who will be scouting the LLWS. Find us the next Todd Frazier.

SecondHandStore
Guest
SecondHandStore
2 years 1 month ago

I’m very excited by this development. Kiley is excellent and Fangraphs is now better by his inclusion.

One thing: I’d love it if Fangraphs could make it easier to get to a MLB team’s minor league affiliates. There is already tab for “TEAMS.” If I could just hover my mouse over a team for a dropbox to show up with a link for each affiliate that would be outstanding.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 1 month ago

I am mainly interested in value of draft picks, and probability of success based on past picks. Also, translating a players minor league stats into future upside in both the short and long term and peak.

So if you have anything along those lines I will be reading. If not, that’s Ok since I am sure there are other folks who are interested in more down on the farm stuff than I am. Either way, good luck.

bill
Guest
bill
2 years 1 month ago

Kiley you did a bang-up job in regards to the International Free Agents market (7/2 signings) this year. Reading your intro for FanGraphs I am not certain if you will still be covering that area of scouting, will you?
If yes, will you be providing top list of each teams prospects signed during this period? Thanks again for your great work at Scouts.com and now here!!

Jimmer
Guest
Jimmer
2 years 1 month ago

Tits or GTFO.

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