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November 22, 2013

Baseball Prospectus News

A Commencement of Sorts

by Jason Parks

It was a little over a year ago that I was handed the operational reins of Baseball Prospectus’ prospect coverage, a move that resulted in a pronounced spike of psychoanalysis-related expenses for the decision makers of the company, specifically BP President and CEO Joe Hamrahi. Normally I would apologize to the powers that be for such an occupational vexation, but it’s healthy and rewarding to talk about our feelings to unprejudiced sources in calming environments in exchange for money and often-extreme emotional vulnerability. You’re welcome.

To move away from the previously established coverage on the site, my goal was to bring on a team of talent evaluators strategically placed in fruitful, prospect-rich environments around the country, stressing the fact that our eyes would actually be on the minor league players we pontificate and prognosticate about on the site. With the team in place, we set out to attack the coverage with the firsthand vigor of an adolescent male left alone for a weekend with a stack of smut. The results proved to be even better than I had initially envisioned, thanks in large part to the hard work and dedication of my financially malnourished staff. Two vital members of that scouting collective were Jason Cole and Zach “Mort” Mortimer. Two vital members whom I now have the distinct pleasure to announce have accepted scouting positions with major league teams.

I first became aware of Jason Cole around 2007, as he was already making a name for himself in the Rangers blogosphere for his in-depth minor league coverage despite being the same age as (or younger than) some of the prospects he was writing about. Jason’s reports lacked pretention or pomp and were delivered in a straightforward manner from an eyewitness perspective that bypassed the need for narrative in exchange for the realities of the scouting profiles. He offered player interviews that asked more than the internet-prevalent paper-thin questions that can lead only to equally paper-thin answers, the kind that leave the reader unattached, uninformed, and wondering if the athletes we study have any depth or knowledge of their own craft.

Jason pulled open the eyes of Rangers fans and helped encourage a broader conversation about the intricacies of prospects and player development. When he joined Baseball Prospectus, he continued to show the same diligence and thoughtfulness of approach, and it didn’t take long until his scouting reports and prospect videos became must-reads for fans and the industry alike. Over the years, I’ve watched more games with Jason Cole than any other person, and our symbiotic scouting relationship has been a highly rewarding experience, one that I hope will continue despite his new role as a pro scout for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Even though I don’t have the same background with Mort, it didn’t take long for his unfortunate New Jersey charm to overwhelm my sensibilities and carve a permanent home as a member of my family. Mort is a gamer in the scouting sense, and this form of unmitigated hustle propelled him from relatively unknown blogger, to king of the Minor League Update, to an amateur scout for the St. Louis Cardinals in less than a calendar year. Mort’s passion for scouting is as intense as I’ve ever seen, and despite putting a role three grade (organizational player) on former first-round pick Courtney Hawkins, I know his drive and overall feel for the game are going to continue to propel him up the professional ladder and onto highly significant platforms in the baseball industry. Really, Mort? Three?

Needless to say, I’m genuinely proud of both Jason and Mort, although I’m aware that saying goodbye to such talented and motivated contributors is a sword that comes with a sharp edge on both sides of the blade. Replacing two major league quality evaluators won’t be an easy task, as their methods and production have set the bar for success at a nearly unattainable level for most to achieve. We will be re-stocking the personnel tank with quality prospects—just like the farm systems we analyze that are forced to reload after they graduate talent to the majors—but their achievements will forever be a baseline for potential on this site.

This is the point of the article when I could channel David Foster Wallace and deliver an articulate and thought-provoking “This is Water” commencement sermon about the challenges Cole and Mort will face in their upcoming adventures in the private sector of the game. But the reality is that they will be the ones in a better position to offer such advice about this new world, and I will be the one who remains in front of the industry pay wall, no doubt calling them to gain their keen insight and intelligence on players and process. Come to think of it, not much is going to change after all. They were always two of my most respected sources.

To Jason Cole and Zach Mortimer—two good friends and esteemed colleagues—it was an honor to work with you. Don’t put a role three grade on a young first-round prospect with plus power potential. You do us all very proud. Go get it.

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Scouting,  Jason Cole,  Zach Mortimer,  Hirings

31 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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This is cool. Congrats and good luck!

Nov 22, 2013 03:35 AM
rating: 7

Congrats guys, that's fantastic

Nov 22, 2013 04:28 AM
rating: 3

Not only did they do great work here at BP (including Mort's 3), they both get hired by two organizations with great track records in scouting and development. Bravo gentlemen!

Nov 22, 2013 04:42 AM
rating: 2

As much as it stinks that two great contributers to the site are leaving, it's things like this that really remind me of how high quality the BP product is. If the major league teams want these guys, that means we've been getting the best content. Thanks guys!

Nov 22, 2013 05:10 AM
rating: 17

Very true. In the past couple of years BP seems to have rebranded itself, to great effect, as a well-rounded baseball think tank. Fans get high-quality analysis, analysts and prospective scouts get a platform with a distinguished imprimatur, and MLB teams get a new pool of talent from which to draw.

BP has always been the place to find the best statistical analysis; now, it's evidently the go-to scouting site as well. In my opinion, the expansion and professionalization of the prospect coverage has been the most visible and most welcome development in BP's brand since I first subscribed. Jason Cole and Zach Mortimer have been key to this development, and clearly we can trust Jason Parks to bring in the best available talent to take their place. Congratulations all around, and thank you for the quality work.

Nov 22, 2013 09:23 AM
rating: 17

Well said.

Nov 22, 2013 09:44 AM
rating: 0

Hate to lose you guys, but I'm really, really happy for both of y'all.

Nov 22, 2013 05:15 AM
rating: 2
Jon KK

Congratulations guys! May your strong work find a new level of reward.

Nov 22, 2013 05:21 AM
rating: 1

Congrats guys! I really thought it would have been the White Sox that hired Mort...

Nov 22, 2013 05:24 AM
rating: 2

Congratulations to both Jason and Mort, and congrats to BP for continuing to be a fantastic proving ground for great young scouting minds.

Nov 22, 2013 06:01 AM
rating: 3

Congrats guys and best of luck (especially Mort since he is with the Cards)!

Nov 22, 2013 06:20 AM
rating: 1
Dave from Pittsburgh

Congrats to Zach and Jason. Good Luck to Jason in restocking the system and carrying on the prospect rankings without them.

Nov 22, 2013 06:35 AM
rating: 1

Fantastic opening paragraph.

Nov 22, 2013 06:37 AM
rating: 1
Kyle Matte

Nothing but the best of luck to Jason and Mort. I always enjoyed reading their work even though I swear Zach derived pleasure from reminding Blue Jays fans what a permanent black mark on our organization trading Noah Syndergaard will be. Not that I disagree with him. Ugh.

However what worries me is that if two of the Professor's top lieutenants (or TA's if you will) have been snatched up by teams, how much longer are we going to be able to enjoy Jason's charms and fancies? Back in the Up & In days he always said his dream job was to work for an organization, and at this point it's hard to think he hasn't received some type of a proposition. It may only be a matter of time before he's offered a position he just can't say no to, and that gives me a case of the sads.

Nov 22, 2013 07:05 AM
rating: 2
BP staff member Russell A. Carleton
BP staff

Congratulations graduates! (And Jason, your psychoanalysis appointment is still on for 3:00 today.)

Nov 22, 2013 07:11 AM

You guys deserve this, congrats and best of luck!

Nov 22, 2013 07:34 AM
rating: 1

wow. Congrats to Jason and Mort. And congrats to you, Jason P. A heckuva validation of your hirings.

Nov 22, 2013 07:47 AM
rating: 4

I have a feeling on that on his first scouting trip, his higher-ups will visit Mort at his hotel room, where they will find him bouncing off the wall in his Hanes tighty-whities, his body covered in arcane Sumerian symbols he himself scrawled upon it, cackling maniacally, and the number "3" haphazardly festooned on the walls, written in his own feces. Such as the life of an amateur scout.

Nov 22, 2013 08:06 AM
rating: 3
Brady Childs

Congrats Mort & Cole!

And congrats to Jason as well! You've done quite a good job putting together a team of scouts from thin air. Here's to hoping you're next!

Nov 22, 2013 08:06 AM
rating: 0

Wow, congrats Jason and Mort!! The fact that they are moving from here to pro scouts really shows how respected and insightful they are, but also BP as a whole. Keep up the good work, guys!

Nov 22, 2013 08:30 AM
rating: 1

I love that MLB is validating what we already knew about the quality and detail that the staff here brings on a daily basis. Congrats and good luck on your next journey guys. For us readers, this sucks and it's a big loss, but I trust that the next wave of talent will put every effort into filling the very big shoes left behind.

Nov 22, 2013 09:12 AM
rating: 2

Professor, I'm reading Dollar Sign on the Muscle and I have taken a shit in a McDonald's before so I'm just saying. Ready to go if you need me.

Nov 22, 2013 09:16 AM
rating: 10

was it in the fryer? Please say yes.

Nov 22, 2013 10:14 AM
rating: 3

It was the PlayPlace.

Nov 22, 2013 10:59 AM
rating: 5

Congrats Zach and Jason. I enjoyed both of your work.

Nov 22, 2013 09:28 AM
rating: 0

RIP the chance to use the "3?" joke whenever.

But in all seriousness, congrats to the both of you. Your contributions will be missed!

Nov 22, 2013 10:06 AM
rating: -1

Doesn't it just become the one thing we can make fun of the Cards for? Hiring the "3?" guy?

Honestly though, I'm really bummed I only subscribed mid-season and only got to enjoy reading both of these fine scribes work for a few months.

Nov 22, 2013 10:53 AM
rating: 0

Congratulations Zach and Jason. Best of luck in your new jobs.

Nov 22, 2013 11:34 AM
rating: 0

Congratulations to the both of you. Your work will definitely be missed here!

Nov 23, 2013 10:24 AM
rating: 0

Best of luck guys!

Nov 24, 2013 21:33 PM
rating: 0

Jumping on board to echo the congrats and best of luck. Also a cudos to Jason for recognizing their abilities and bringing them into the BP fold. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before two new up and comers are added. Well done BP for your continued excellence.

Nov 25, 2013 15:53 PM
rating: 0
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