Every year for the last five years I have printed up and created a PDF file for the Cincinnati Reds Top 100 Prospects that included scouting reports and information on the top 100 players in the system. This year that won’t be happening. The same information will still be available though, it just won’t be organized in a book that is for sale. Each player that would have appeared in the Top 100 within the book will now simply be posted on the website over the course of the offseason. For the Top 40, things will begin to roll out on Monday, one player per day during the week. Once the Top 40 is completed there will be two players per day posted for the final sixty players. That should run us right into the start of big league spring training, or very close to it.

Why I decided to go against creating a book

Over the years I have developed slight carpel tunnel in my right wrist. It’s always at it’s worst when I’m doing a lot of mouse work. While typing things up for the book doesn’t require the mouse, getting all of the layout work completed does. On top of that, it also took up a lot of time. Between the health of my wrist and the time that will be saved, it was an easy decision.

Another thing was that with all of that additional work and time, it just doesn’t seem like the investment was worth it all. It costs money to make the book (at least the physical copy) and at the end of the day, the return on it just didn’t seem to be adding up any longer. Doing it all online saves both time and money on my end. Users will still need to subscribe to the site to get the scouting reports on most guys (I’m debating on how frequently to make a full article free – once a week? Once every other week?), so the product should still produce income for the site, but it’s also going to produce more time for me to spend doing other things on the site as well. In the long run, hopefully that leads to more content over the winter for everyone.

The last thing I want to touch on, and if you’ve been around long enough and read the site fairly regularly, you know that I’ve been rather open about the site and how it operates. A few years ago the site had grown too popular and I had to upgrade the server capabilities of the site, which meant my price to operate the site went up 1000%. When that happened I couldn’t rely solely on advertising any longer to keep the site afloat and I moved to the way things are today with a subscription plan for you guys to help support all of the work that goes on at the site. Obviously, there are still ads on the site and they do continue to bring in money, but the rates are constantly changing and there is never a way to know exactly what the rates will be tomorrow, much less how much income it’s going to bring to me at the end of the month. With the subscriptions, I’ve generally got a good idea of how much money will be coming in each month.

Building up the subscription base hasn’t gone as well as I’d hoped, it’s been pretty stagnant for the last year. New users come in and some old ones drop off. From a business standpoint, despite big growth in traffic this year, the number of subscribers hasn’t really grown and that could certainly mean a number of things that I won’t get into, but to keep the site going, one of two things needs to happen. Either incoming traffic needs to continue growing at a very big rate, or the number of subscriptions needs to increase. Each year, over the winter, I have to sit down and decide whether or not I can afford to keep running the site and I decide to commit on a one year basis to that. Things are strong enough that I’m willing to keep things going for another year, but I’d be lying to you (and I don’t want to do that) if placing all of the book information online for subscribers weren’t also to try and boost the subscription numbers up some. In the long run, building the base of subscribers to a stronger number will allow me to not only keep the site going, but grow the site and be able to do more things with it.

Sorry for the long runon there, you know how I get sometimes. Check back in the morning for the first article on the Reds #1 prospect Robert Stephenson and how his season played out, some video and a full scouting report.