I am greatly honored to announce that I had the pleasure of interviewing the one and only, Jonathan Mayo! Mayo has been one of MLB.com’s top reporters when it comes to Minor League Baseball prospects since 1999. This interview was conducted prior to start of the 2015 MLB season. Enjoy!
MLB.com Draft Expert, Jonathan Mayo (Courtesy of www.ronkaplansbaseballbookshelf.com)
Evered: B3, how did you come to giving your baseball blog that name?
Mayo: I wanted it to be something fun and not necessarily hardcore baseball-related. At one point, I had a friend tease me by saying I was “Big, Bald and Beautiful” – and B3 was born.
Evered: Where do you receive your information or breaking news from?
Mayo: I’ve worked hard to build relationships and cultivate sources. I talk to people all around baseball, from agents to front offices.
Evered: How did you develop this strong interest in Minor League Baseball?
Mayo: I’ve always been interested in talking about prospects. Even when I was focusing more on Major League stuff when I first started at MLB.com, I tried to write stuff on the young guys. I guess I like telling stories about guys that aren’t as well known, sometimes introducing them to a wider audience. These days, there’s a ton of information about prospects out there, but I like adding to that.
Evered: Has any of your former jobs in sports helped you understand how to evaluate and rank certain players?
Mayo: Not really. I’ve always been a writer or analyst of some sort. I guess being around the game for a long time and hanging out with scouts a lot certainly hasn’t hurt my critical eye. But I’m not really an evaluator. The scouts out in the field really know what they’re doing and I prefer to let my opinions be informed by gathering as much information from the experts as possible.
Evered: Did you attend the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego, California
Mayo: I did indeed attend. I’ve gone to every Winter Meetings since 1999, I think, except for one.
Evered: Did you ever visit an actual MLB team War Room?
Mayo: At the winter meetings, you mean? There have been times when I’ve filled in covering a team where I, along with other reporters covering a team, gain access to the team suite with a general manager. But I’ve never sat in the suite while they’ve had private discussions about trades and free agents, if that’s what you mean.
Evered: Who has been the most solid prospect this past year?
Mayo: Basing it on performance, that’s easy. Kris Bryant of the Cubs.
Evered: The breakout prospect in 2015 will be…?
Mayo: Franklin Barreto, of the Oakland A’s.
Evered: Why did you decide to have Byron Buxton remain as the top prospect on the Top 100 Prospect List? (Great Choice)
Mayo: We took some flack for that one because Bryant had such a great year in 2014. And we love Bryant, but when we make a list, it’s not just about current performance. It’s about what we think will happen in the future. And Buxton still has the best all-around tools in the game among prospects.
His injuries were all unrelated and there’s nothing that’s chronic or recurring. Yes, he needs to stay on the field, but people jumped off his bandwagon in a hurry just because he missed a bunch of 2014. He’s still only 21.
Evered: Can you please describe the book that you wrote?
Mayo: Facing Clemens was a look at how hitters tried to hit Roger Clemens over the course of his career. Each chapter was about a different hitter who had that challenge at different times, from Dave Magadan in college (and MLB), to Cal Ripken Jr. (who faced him the most) to Ken Griffey Jr. (most success), etc. Torii Hunter was great because he was terrible against Clemens and was generous with his time in talking about it with me.
Evered: How often do you travel to have an advanced look at a prospect, team or to a special event?
Mayo: I wish I had more time to get out there and see more guys. But we cover a good amount of showcases to see Draft talent ahead of time. If it’s not me, it’s Jim Callis or Teddy Cahill (the MLBPipeline.com team). But we get out a good amount – Spring Training, the Futures Game and the Arizona Fall League all give us opportunities to see Minor League prospects.
Evered: Are you already examining the prospects of the 2015 MLB Draft?
Mayo: We put out a Top 50 list in the fall and we covered some things over the summer – I was at the East Coast Pro Showcase, for instance. But we won’t really dig into the Draft stuff until April.
Thank you Mr. Mayo once again for forgoing a few minutes and answering these questions!