Our Spotlight Interview with… Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein!

I’m Greg Pappas… welcoming everyone to Draft America’s ‘Spotlight’ on industry giant Kevin Goldstein of BaseballProspectus.com!
Thanks again for agreeing to do this Kevin, it’s an honor to have you.

GP… Can you give us some information regarding your background (how you got into the business, your work experience and progression, etc.) and what your current duties at BP entail?
KG… Here’s the very short version.  Early in the last decade, I started an email newsletter called The Prospect Report.  I knew some people in the industry, and both Jim Callis and Ron Shandler were nice enough to mention the service, which led to a considerable growth in subscribers.  Then people in the industry started subscribing, so I was able to make my first inside contacts.  It was growing to the point where I was just starting to consider if there was a way to make this more than just a hobby when Peter Gammons wrote about it, which led to some crazy explosive growth.  With a subscriber base now in the five figures area, Baseball America bought the product and hired me.  I spent three years at BA, and learned a ton there, but the opportunity to come to Baseball Prospectus and both establish and lead their prospect/draft coverage was just too good an opportunity to pass up, and it’s been a great time here.  Early in 2008, I became the managing partner of Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, so beyond my writing, I’m also leading the company forward, but it’s definitely a team effort.
GP… Our own Nick James (NJ) asks… In the scouting and evaluation of prospects, what extent does BP rely on outside sources versus your own staff’s personal observations?
KG… I like to see as many players as possible, but obviously, I can’t see most, so I do depend on a network of contacts within the industry to be my eyes and ears.  Every once in a while I get one of those “but you never saw him” kind of thing, but really, what’s more valuable to my readers – me seeing a guy once and giving you my thoughts, or me talking to numerous professional talent evaluators who have seen the player on multiple occasions and getting their thoughts?  That’s a no-brainer, at least for me.
NJ… Has their ever been an interest on BP’s part or the part of a ML organization -to work together in some capacity? And IF not, would that be something you’d consider in the future?
KG… We have done some one-off work for teams in the past, and are open to other such things in the future.  Contractual terms prevent me from going into more detail, but yes, major league clubs definitely keep an eye on what we do.
NJ… To what extent do you discuss players with other industry sources (Baseball America, PGCrosschecker, Sickels?) and what sort of relationships do you have with them?
KG… I generally don’t.  I do talk to Allan Simpson (PGCrosschecker and BA’s founder) from time to time, and while I remain close friends with Jim Callis and talk to him pretty much on a weekly basis, we do have this kind of self-imposed lockout where we avoid talking about work if we’re on similar things.  I’ve only met John Sickels in passing a few times.
GP… What are your personal thoughts on the draft, regarding perceived inequities, and what changes would you hope to see, if any, and why?
KG… I think it’s a very complicated subject that you could write a book about and still not get to everything.  The inequities certainly come up when a guy like Champman gets his deal, as I don’t think it’s crazy to assume that Stephen Strasburg would have gotten twice as much in an open bidding environment.  Still, the fact that the Reds signed him shows that on a pure economic level, amateur talent is still where the bargains are.
GP… Regarding the upcoming 2010 Draft (and we know it’s early), which five prospects do you feel will stand at the top of the rankings come draft time; being pushed to answer now? If you can, please break down for us your views on their skill-sets, and what sort of projection you see in them.
KG… Obviously, the big story is Bryce Harper, but I bet he’s not the first pick in the draft.  I’ll have much more on that down the road over at BP.  I think Texas prep righty James Tallion is the best pitcher – he’s just a classic big Texas arm with blistering velocity.  Anthony Ranaudo of LSU is the best college arm, and he’s also and size and stuff guy.  I think Cal State Fullerton’s toolsy shortstop Christian Colon is the best four-year college position player, but there really isn’t a high school position player anyone would consider for the top five.  For my last, I’ll go a bit on a ledge and take LeVon Washington, who the Rays are going to regret for not signing last summer.
GP… Can you tell us what BP offers it’s readers that has made it so popular, as well as where the site got it’s roots, where things are now (perhaps include a tidbit on how the partnership with ESPN came about) and what you foresee in BP’s future?

KG…  We like to see ourselves as a baseball think tank, and while we’re known for our numbers, I really think it’s the amazing content we put out that brings us the subscribers.  Beyound some of the smartest people out there, we also have people who are just flat-out great writers, and that’s what puts us over the top.  ESPN approached us last year looking to syndicate some of our work, and we were happy to do that, as it brings significantly greater exposure to what we do.  As for the future, 2010 will actually represent a big step forward for us, as we have a new team of statistical experts working on some exciting new things, while a new blog layer while have us increasing the amount of content we put out there for our readers by a huge margin.  We’re really excited.

GP… Great stuff Kevin, and on behalf of all of us here at Draft America, I’d like to thank you for your time, and we ask that our readers check out his efforts at BaseballProspectus.com.

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