This week is a big week for national prospect lists for the Cincinnati Reds. On Wednesday the Baseball America Reds Top 10 list will be released. Then on Thursday the Baseball Prospectus Reds Top 10 list will be released. As always, I will have plenty on both lists when they come out.

The Baseball America list, outside of my own of course, is the one that I tend to agree with the most. I think the reason for that is generally the stability. JJ Cooper has been doing the Reds portion of that list for as long as I can remember. That gives the rankings one general voice, a similar outlook each year. Consistency.

The list at Baseball Prospectus in the same time has probably gone through 20-25 different voices and their input on the list, making it far less predictable from year-to-year. That makes it tougher to compare from year-to-year as the way the writer(s) look at prospects change too frequently to have that consistent outlook over a longer period of time.

What is nice about it all though, is the different ways to look at things. With more voices, you can get more opinions and outlooks on players. Generally speaking, more information is better to have. This week we will be getting plenty of that.

Some more website numbers

On Saturday I posted about some of the things that happened here on the site. I looked at a few new things on Sunday that I forgot to check out for the post.

Subscribers went up during the year. The site gained some new users and lost some others, overall the site now has 45 more subscribers than it did when 2016 began. That’s both good and bad. I’m very thankful for everyone who is willing to support the site through a subscription. It helps out a ton. At the same time, there were 83000 more people that viewed the site in 2016 than in 2015. Obviously, many of them were probably around a time or two, but the conversion rate into subscribers wasn’t quite as large as I would have expected given the big increase. If you’ve got any ideas on how to increase subscribers, or what I’m not doing well enough to push up those numbers, please share ideas. I’d love to get as far away from relying on advertising for revenue as possible (it’s unreliable and unpredictable in terms of figuring out how much money I will be making each day/week/month).

Yesterday I went through all of the media that I used in 2016. On my travels in 2016, I took 2043 photos at the baseball games I covered (It was more – but that’s just the total number of photos that I kept – I deleted ones that were out of focus, or just weren’t usable for whatever reason). That was good for 46.77 gigabytes of storage. At those same games, I also recorded 394 videos (it was probably 2-3 times this many, but I deleted many of them – hitters striking out, weak ground outs, lazy flies – those get deleted immediately). That wound up being good for 127 gigabytes of data for the video.

The RedsMinorLeagues Youtube channel had 70,613 views in 2016. People spent just over 46 days watching videos (that was actually less than one minute per view). The most viewed video, surprisingly, was one from 2012. It’s of Billy Hamilton in Pensacola running an insane 3.64 to first base. That video was viewed 25,259 times. It made up 36% of all the video views that the channel had. No other video had 2000 views and only one video topped 1500.

45 Responses

  1. RedsFan1973

    Sorry if I missed it, but has there been any update on Yorman Rodriguez? Is he still a free agent or did he sign somewhere? Very surprising the Reds don’t give him one last shot isn’t it?

    • bryant

      I’d like to know the answer to this, too. The guy was hurt all last year. If there was something else to the story, fine, but I’d really like to know what it was. He is a 23 year old Latino boy who was starting to come into his own and all of a sudden after a summer of injury he is dropped. Why? Was he faking? Its simply not right to say he had a lot of chances. He had barely a cup of coffee.

  2. Andrew

    Never commented, and I’m shooting myself (and probably many others) in the foot here, but if you want more subscribers you’ve gotta put more stuff behind your paywall. Every time I hit an article that ends behind the paywall I think, “man, I’d really like to finish this article”, but it doesn’t happen enough for me to actually do it. I would imagine I read 98% of what’s written on this site, and have for 5+ years. I love your work but I just don’t get that “ah man!” reaction enough to pull the trigger. Call me selfish, but with 2 young kids and a wife I try to save everywhere I can. Make people like me feel it a little more and we probably would.

    • DanD

      I know that I stay away from ESPN online and Cincinnati Enquire online because of pay but I would pay $15 or $20 a year if need be. How much is a subscription? For a mandatory low fee how much do you think traffic would be lowered?

    • James K

      The $4 per month isn’t for the little bit behind the paywall. It is to support the whole site. Well worth it.

    • Doug Gray

      There were 94 subscriber articles in 2016. That’s 11% of all articles. Maybe it needs to be more than that. My goal was to essentially have two articles per week that were for subscribers.

      There’s a balancing act and I just don’t know where it is. Too much paid content and people stop showing up. Too little and people don’t subscribe. Running a business is hard. Lol

      • Justin

        I have tracked your site for years and actually ignored it for a while when you went to the paid content section. I started viewing it again because I noticed it wasn’t really affecting my ability to get content. I don’t mind supporting a site, as I own a business myself and $48 isn’t much, but I need more than the ability to continue an article. I’m with DanD, I won’t go to the paid content sites. I think you should look at creating events in Dayton and Cincinnati. I have a comedy venue in Dayton I’d let you use. It can be a ticketed event and can create community amongst your followers. This is the model that business journals use to stay alive (and even thrive)

      • citizen54

        Not sure if it is possible but have you considered offering a one time payment options for subscriptions ranging from half a year to xxx years? You could offer discounts to those who make a one time payment for longer subscriptions.

        I think some people don’t like to seeing monthly charges on the their credit card bills even if it’s only for $4 a month.

      • Doug Gray

        Considered it, but the way the current software is set up, it’s not an option. I’m going to look into the newest version (have to research it – it’s an expensive upgrade – or, well, expensive for the site) to see what the new options are and if it’s possible. I’d like to think that it is, but I will have to dive into it and see.

        The monthly charges thing is strange to me though. I mean, I know that people HATE it. But isn’t nearly everything a monthly charge? You can’t even buy software anymore in most cases – it’s almost all a rental (not that you ever owned it, even if you bought the actual disc – you just bought the license to use it). Every bill I have, outside of three, is a monthly charge.

      • DanD

        I am not interested in the 94 subscriber articles as an example therefore I would not want to pay for this. However, the rest of the pages and the forum I could see paying $20 for this. If there a way you could run a vote for a week and would be able to vote once. Would this give you an idea if something like this would be a route to consider. I appreciate you and the website and would love to help and continue viewing. If something changed to where I would have to pay for something not interested in such as the 94 articles from 2016 I would have to stop. My main interest are stats from the previous day and reading the forums. Just my thoughts…

    • TheRickDeLux

      I agree 100% with Andrew. I’ve been a paid and unpaid subscriber over the years. Frankly, the only reason to pay the $4 was to support your work. The additional content wasn’t really worth it from my POV.

      I recently became unpaid again not because of the content but because my interest in the Reds is greatly reduced. For the first time in my 42 years I am extremely pessimistic about the future of the Redlegs. It’s become embarrassing to support them amongst Cubs and Cardinals fans and I’m just not sure any of these “prospects” are really going to hit. You can arguably say that the Chapman, Cueto, and Frazier trades made the team better. But, you know what… I f’n loved watched them play for my Reds.

  3. Cam

    We might have gone over this before, but what prospect lists are the most worth paying attention to in your opinion? My go to lists are here, BA, MinorLeagueBall, Baseball Prospectus, and Fangraphs. I’ll pay attention to MLB Pipeline and ESPN but always take them with a grain of salt.

    Am I leaving any good ones out?

    • Doug Gray

      Those are the ones I pay attention to. But, BP and FG have the same problem: Different people are making the list almost every year. It makes it very tough to use as a comparison because the voices are always different.

  4. Jer.B

    Doug, I frequent insidethall.com being the huge IU fan that I am. Alex that runs the site, gives virtually all of the content on the site for free. He does offer a premium forum though. With the premium forum there is a charge. Seems light a good way to get people pay. You could offer additional content via the forum as well.

    • Doug Gray

      Forums are the worst things ever. They require constant attention between moderation and spam bots. A while ago there actually was a forum with the site. It was terrible to handle. Good job to anyone that can, but as a one-man operation, I simply don’t have the time for that.

  5. The Duke

    Outside of maybe Jim Callis, there us no one who ranks prospects that I trust more than JJ Cooper. We are lucky he’s handled the Reds so long over at BA. Unfortunately, Callis doesn’t cover the Reds over at MLB.com, they have let Jonathan Mayo do that, and do it very badly over the last two years.

  6. redsvol

    Doug – I think you’ve got to make people subscribe before they can either comment or read comments by others to your articles. Personally, I enjoy your articles but I also enjoy the input that your many excellent readers provide on the subject of the day. Also, maybe give a steep discount for someone who pays an annual subscription up-front vs. monthly. For example, 4$/month or 25$-30$ for someone who pays up front for the year. You get the income up front and the subscriber gets a steep discount for the annual commitment.

    • DHud

      This is a good idea. I love the articles Doug but also love the discussion. I’ve been selfish and haven’t subscribed but making the comments section subscriber only would definitely do it for me

  7. Doug Gray

    Honestly, I’m not sure what traffic would be like if say, we went full on PiratesProspects.com and had almost all content behind the paywall. You can read about the move here, if you’re interested in why it went that way. http://www.piratesprospects.com/2015/03/the-future-of-pirates-prospects.html

    Now, Tim and his site did an insane amount of traffic. Believe it or not, he was averaging more unique vistors per day than I’ve ever had hits in a single day – and he still couldn’t see a future where he wasn’t charging for almost all of his content.

    His goal was initially to hit 8,000 subscribers at $3 a month. That would allow him to hire more people to write for him, too.

    I will just put this out there – I’ve got less than 150 subscribers at this point. Feel free to do the math on what money that makes me (and while I charge $4 a month – I lose fees on each of those transactions). Everything else I make comes from advertising. Rates vary, wildly. But as I type this at 10:15pm, I’ve made $8.82 today from all of the advertising today. And it’s a normal day when it comes to traffic. I will be honest, it’s a very bad rate day, but that’s pretty much all of January, too, since people aren’t spending as much money on the month because they went all out the previous few months for Christmas.

    Each year it’s a struggle to figure out if I can keep things going. Despite massive growths in traffic, ad revenue barely increased from 2015. Some subscribers were added, but as the numbers above show – it was just a small number.

    This is just me typing all of this out since the people who read the comments/interact are generally the core group anyways. But, there may be some changes to try and get the subscriber count up. What that is exactly, I’m not sure yet. Some ideas:

    – Set up a pop up like Fangraphs has that every time I click an article it asks me if I want to become a subscriber, then I can click yes or no. That’s kind of annoying and I’m not sure how people feel about that.

    – Simply make a post every two weeks asking people if they are subscribed to the site, just as a somewhat regularly scheduled reminder that you can help support the site and keep it going.

    – Especially during the season, create more subscriber content. One idea is to take the Top 25 daily update that’s gone in the game review in the past and make it it’s own article each morning for subscribers only – and add in a few notes about a few guys to go with it.

    That’s kind of what I’ve got at this point. I may actually make an entire post about this later in the week. We will see.

    • bryant

      I understand the illogic of this but what about just giving people multi-tiered membership options with the chance to pay more if they want to support the site more. In truth, some people are less programmed to be frugal than others. Those of us who get what you are struggling to do and retired or with a little more money can pay more and those with kids etc. can pay less. You can just ask. I pay a lot more for things I enjoy a lot less than your site. I’d be happy to pay more. If I were you, I’d also ask for contributions for certain things. Its ridiculous you have to drive to Arizona for spring training. Ask for donations. There is a very nice tone to the comments section on this site and a sense of community that is developing. Your demeanor has created that and you can legitimately take advantage of it.

      • Doug Gray

        Well, I drive to Arizona because I won’t fly unless the world is for sure ending and I somehow got a ticket on a rocket to somewhere else. It may be the crazy in me, but getting on a plane just isn’t happening.

        I will look into if it’s possible to set up a subscription with a “pay what you want” option. I’m not sure if it’s actually doable with the software that I use or not. I like the idea though, so hopefully it can be an option.

      • Reaganspad

        Go full pay and trash the Russian girls gone wild.

        Your content is too good to be free. $10/month is nothing for your content and forum.

        If you need to, tier your pricing;

        $5 for articles and $5 for forum

  8. Cguy

    Since the subject has come up, Is having $4.00 deducted from a credit card the only payment option? You don’t like planes, some don’t like credit card payment over the internet. Perhaps an address? a post office box? Would like to support the site, but not as big on being a subscriber.

    • Doug Gray

      I’ve got a handful of people who send checks each year. If you’re interested in that, email me.

  9. Billy

    Doug, I love the site, and I appreciate all the hard work you put into it. You really do a great job.

    I am not a subscriber, and I’ve been mulling over what it would take for me to subscribe. It’s not that I don’t love what you provide – I definitely do. At the same time, I see it as a luxury to me. If the site wasn’t here, I’d just do something else. I certainly don’t mean to belittle your site, and it would guarantee that the “something else” wouldn’t be coverage of Reds minor leaguers. For some (many?) of us, that would be OK, as we have a range of interests.

    If I were to subscribe, I think it would be because the stuff I really wanted to see were behind a paywall. I have to imagine that the biggest draw is prospect rankings. I’d hate for them to be behind a paywall, but I think they’re the most anticipated thing you produce. Same thing with draft coverage. I’m still not sure if that would be enough for me (or someone like me) to subscribe though. If the really good stuff isn’t free, would we just migrate to other things? I really don’t know.

    Another idea for new, subscriber-only content… Do you have any contact with players? I would hope that they see that you are promoting their careers, and that working with you would be a great opportunity for them. Could you leverage those relationships (and still remain objective when doing things like prospect rankings) to provide goodies to your subscribers? That could be additional content, like subscriber-only interviews. But it could also be more tangible… a signed baseball or an in-person meet-and-greet session for the local crew. The players should be thinking about marketing themselves (either to build their brand as they advance up the ladder or to make the contacts they’ll need should they wash out), and you provide a forum for doing that. Seems win-win to me.

    I hope you don’t mind my blunt assessment. I thought the perspective of someone who follows closely but doesn’t subscribe might be of value to you. I’m not sure that there’s really much you can do to reel me in. (I’m particularly averse to any kind of recurring payment if I can possibly avoid it.) Hopefully the perspective is useful to you though and helps you plan what’s best for you and the site going forward.

    • Doug Gray

      Don’t mind at all. Appreciate any and all input.

      There are many sites/things that I’m really into that I also would probably find something else to occupy my time with if I had to pay for them. My current “subscriptions” that aren’t directly tied to my business: Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime. My subscriptions that are mostly or exclusively tied to my business: Adobe Creative cloud ($50 a month), Office 365, Baseball America, ESPN the Magazine (gets ESPN Insider far cheaper than paying for it outright), Cincinnati Enquirer online, Baseball Prospectus.

      As a side note, I’m into making things – mostly out of wood, but dabble with some metal as well. I watch tons of stuff on youtube in the whole makerspace. Almost all of them run a patreon page to help support them. I subscribe to none of them. But, what I do, if when they have shirts for sale, or products, I will buy those at $20-25. I know how the shirt game works, so they are probably only making $5-10 on a shirt at that price depending exactly on how they printed it/had it printed. Sometimes I will buy digital plans for a project for $5-10 even if I don’t need them just to support them every so often.

      As you can probably tell by the above post – I’m not exactly rolling in money. I know that others, even if they are making a lot more than I am, also have more bills and responsibilities, leaving them with small amounts of available spending money. So when people don’t subscribe, I absolutely get it. On the list of priorities, a baseball website isn’t up there.

      I do have contact with the players – I’m credentialed with all of the teams, so I can almost always set up an interview if I’d like to. Leveraging those relationships into merchandise though – I think that’s a line I’d rather not cross into. At least to the point where I’d have to ask them to sign something, offer something up – things like that.

      • Billy

        So, have you considered making some content available on a la carte basis? If you offered an option to just buy access to a particular article (as an alternative to subscribing for a monthly fee), would that bring in much more?

  10. Reaganspad

    Is there a way you could get a link to the mlb site for the Reds?

    Your content is so great that they should pay you, but at the least getting traffic.

    Maybe give 30 day free trial then move to the pay model

    • Doug Gray

      MLB isn’t going to let something like that happen. They are very closed off to mentioning other sources of information. They want to pretend they are the only one. Look at how every MLB website is run. If say Trent or Zach confirm a trade or a signing, Mark Sheldon has it two hours later – the second that the Reds official twitter account also releases it. They want to control the story, even if they can’t. They want to make it appear that way.

      • reaganspad

        Thanks Doug,

        Makes sense.

        I came to your site from redlegnation and have been happy to support you since. I would still go full pay if I were you as your content is spectacular for a sports website. I support redlegnation as well.

        you guys get my enquirer money, but I would pay regardless. I also pay for my college sports, beaverblitz who most recently moved to scout.

        Something that is similar on that site and yours is the content of the posters as well as the authors. Figure out who they are, I can tell you which ones I love to read and make sure to keep them happy and posting and the board will take off I think

  11. DHud

    Couple thoughts:

    1) I didn’t know there was a Redsminorleague YouTube channel!!

    2) It would be an interesting topic to see which of these prospect lists has the best track record, i.e. who’s getting it right the most. They’d have to come up with some way of quantifying production vs expected production based on prospect ranking

    3) Have you ever thought about doing a fundraiser/one time donation campaign? I’ve read a couple comments about “don’t want recurring payment” or “would give $20-30.” If you did one of these annual fundraisers (I think Redleg Nation does something similar), you’d not only catch people who want to support your work but not be tied to a subscription but I also bet subscribers would donate at that time as well

    • Doug Gray

      1. We do. youtube.com/redsminorleagues – it’s where I host all of the videos you see here on the site.

      2. That’s such a tough thing to do given that you probably need to wait until guys are 30 to really stack up their value. You may have a good idea of what things are going to be like a few years before that, but even still – if you’re ranking an 18-year-old, you’re talking 8 years down the road before he’s even played 4 years in the big leagues at an early case scenario.

      3. I haven’t really thought about it – but I do get 2-3 donations a month. There’s a donate button on the sidebar of the site and it’s been there for years and years.

      I think that I need to figure out a way to get more payment options. While paypal accepts all credit cards as an option to pay – I’ve heard from more than enough people that they don’t want to sign up for them in order to sign up. I’m not sure what I’ve got to do in order to make that happen, but I guess it’s time to look into that (which is, unfortunately going to probably cost me a chunk of change to upgrade the product I currently use so I can get customer service again).

  12. Shawn

    I think you give away too much for free. I would also raise price after I moved more free content to pay site

  13. Jasonp

    I personally can’t work so I don’t have a ton of money to work with but I think there is a top amount people are willing to pay for entertainment.

    I had once played a web based game where it was $2.50 for a month of playing. I would always tell people just don’t have pop once a month when you go out to eat and you saved enough money to pay for this game that gave 30-80 hours of entertainment a month. One person told me he didn’t understand why he doesn’t think twice about paying $20 for a pizza on a random Friday but couldn’t get himself to pay $2.50 a month to play that game.

    So with so many things costing money for entertainment now. (Internet, Netflix, Cell phone plans, ESPN or other sports sites, Amazon Prime, , Hulu, online news paper, Console online subscriptions, video game subscriptions, Movies, Books, Magazines, ext…) I think when you start adding it all up you tend not to want to add any more charges for entertainment. So $48 on its own might not be a lot but if you are already paying so much already any more can seem like to much.

    For me again I would like an option to pay for a whole year. So I could ask a family member(s) for a birth day or Christmas gift of a years worth of premium membership to redsminorleagues.com. Without an option like that I would have to stop something else to have the funds to pay for premium membership here.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m going to be looking into adding in both new ways to pay as well as different options for length of subscription.

  14. Colt Holt

    Per the chat today, Fangraphs Top 10 will be coming today or tomorrow. On question regarding surprises, Shed Long was referenced as a back end top 100.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s almost like these guys get together and decided that this was Reds week. I know they didn’t actually do that, but that’s kind of crazy that three places are all releasing their Reds lists within a day of each other.

  15. Cbus

    I’ve donated to the site but I am not a subscriber due to not liking recurring payments and because there is enough content for me look at already.

    Have you thought about selling more items in your store? Currently only the prospect guide is for sale. I’m not thinking Reds merchandise or autographed items.

    Something like in depth scouting, pics, videos of different people’s favorite players that they could order. A sit with Doug at a game type of raffle could probably raise good money too.

  16. Bill

    My inputs on how to get more subscribers:

    1. Put more behind the premium wall. As others have pointed out, readers don’t miss a lot by not subscribing. In addition to the scouting reports, consider taking your other analytical work behind the wall. For example, your analysis of Mike Lorenzen was obvious analytical work unique to you. Your analysis of “best tools” was based on your analysis. Your State of the Farm series would be another good opportunity. I think the way you do your scouting reports (i.e., you tease with a summary of their year–all factual data) and firewall your analysis is a good model.

    2. Try a promotion around one of your high traffic periods. Perhaps around the draft would be a good time to try the “pop up” subscription banner. Consider offering some sort of discount to first time subscribers in coordination with the additional banners. First year for $40, 3 months for $10, or 30-days free might work.

    3. Discounting annual subscriptions may help incentivize people as well.

    4. Consider the value of non-core articles. Your bread and butter is prospects. Obviously, this bleeds over to the major league team. Sometimes you cover things your interested in, but don’t really specialize in. A couple of weeks ago you wrote an article about comments by Bryan Price and last summer you did one on Pete Rose.

    Today’s “Marty” article is another example. Good article and generated lots of discussion/interaction, but what could you have done for your core business with the time you spent on that article.

    Could you have spent that time conducting a an interview that led to a terrific “premium” article. Think how good the Bryan Price article would have been if you had interviewed Bryan Price!

    Could you have provided a “free-lance” article to a sports/news site in Dayton, Louisville, Pensacola or Dayton that could be used to point more potential customers back to your site similar to how your RedlegNation articles work.

    Should you publish similar articles as editorials that you publish and let other debate.

    Really hoping some of the suggestions you receive help get you to 500 subscribers this year.

    Thanks again for providing this resource. I’m a happy paying customer.