From the pages of Vine Line: Debuting the Minors Tracker
The following editor’s letter is from the September issue of Vine Line, announcing a new recurring feature. Subscribe today for exclusive coverage all year.
You’ve spoken, and we’ve listened: The Cubs’ future matters to you. Starting with the September issue, Vine Line will be covering the next generation in a big way.
We’re answering the call from longtime subscriber Dean Adams of Parkersburg, W.V., who wrote, “I really looked forward to the minor league teams’ individual player performances as the year progressed, and trying to spot the next ‘Starlin Castro’ or ‘Kerry Wood.’” Same for Gary Holte, Paul Fisher, Orrin Worth and everyone else who made their voices heard.
To the right, you’ll ﬁnd our brand new Minors Tracker, an improved way to follow the Cubs organization from month to month. We’ve returned the statistics while improving on our display in several prominent ways. It joins our existing coverage with The Farm Report and Minor League Notebooks from the organization’s top four levels.
Click here for a full-size preview, and read below the jump for more on the improvements:
First, we’re printing them on deadline—the records, statistics and rosters will be up to two weeks more current than they were last season.
We’re also indicating if a player has been promoted or demoted in the last month. While you shouldn’t read too much into these up-down arrows—players are shufﬂed around the organization for a number of reasons, including performance, injuries, trades and positional logjams—we hope they give you a sense of how the farm system evolves as the year goes along.
The statistical categories have been updated, too—we believe for the better. There’s nothing fancy here, just a selection of counting and rate stats that give a more complete picture of Cubs farmhands. On-base and slugging percentages round out batting average for the position players. For pitchers, you can compare hit, walk, strikeout and home-run rates per nine innings.
Yet statistics aren’t always the best way to evaluate prospects, particularly the further you go down the system. So what we are most excited to announce is that we are supplementing our coverage with some of baseball’s best scouting and player development writers.
Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein is one such addition to our writing team. One of the most well-networked and thorough minor league analysts out there, Goldstein distills reports from scouts, executives and other front-ofﬁce types to give an informed picture of a player’s development path. Every month he’ll update Vine Line readers on names to know, covering the strides, setbacks and steps remaining on the long path to the big leagues.
And still to come in future months, we plan to not only tell you whom to watch but also to tie those names into a Scouting 101 series so you can evaluate the next generation of Cubs players for yourself.
Combined with our Farm Report and Minor League Notebooks, it all adds up to a more complete picture of a minor league system that you’ve all rightly identiﬁed as being crucial to the Cubs’ future.
—Sean Ahmed, Senior Associate Editor