Beat reporter Scoop Chevelle comes to us from a secret facility deep beneath the Grand Canyon.  This palatial subterranean complex, powered by a series of dams on the Colorado River, houses the research lab of Andy Seiler, baseball draft guru.

After a two-day hike through the most remote reaches of the canyon, Scoop reaches the hidden door of the facility.  After an iris scan confirms his identity, he is allowed in.  We join Scoop and Andy as they begin the interview in the formal dining room.

Scoop: Let’s start off with the question that everyone is clamoring to know the answer to.  Are you related to Marv Seiler, the man who was unjustly denied the 1992 Heisman trophy despite his heroic performance in Iowa State’s 19-10 victory over 7th ranked Nebraska?

Andy: I could be, but not that I know of. Most in my family aren’t athletic in the football sense. That’s why we like baseball.

Scoop: You’ve been called the Mel Kiper of baseball.  How do you feel about that comparison?  More importantly, how does your hair feel about it?

Andy: I don’t know how I feel about that. My hair is insulted, but if he’s the guy most turn to for draft information in the NFL, I’ll take that as a compliment. There always has to be a Todd McShay, though…

Scoop: The draft is quickly sneaking up on us.  How many hours a week are you spending on research?  How are you managing to balance this with the other priorities in your life?

Andy: I probably spend more time on research and writing than anything else in my life right now, including sleep. I keep telling everyone that as soon as the last pick of the 50th round is announced, I’m going to go into a sleep coma for 36 hours. I’d say the average week in the last three or four has included 80+ hours of research and writing, though that includes weekends. Luckily, this is my wife’s busiest time of the year, too, so it’s not like there’s any pressure to reign it back in.

Scoop: A lot of people are excited about your book, which will contain 750 player profiles and well as information about each organization.  Some of us – including me – have already pre-ordered it.  Several publishers sell guides to the NFL draft, but baseball’s draft has historically been nearly ignored by the mainstream media.  When did you get the idea to publish such a comprehensive guide?

Andy: I’ve had the idea for a couple years, but I didn’t feel strong enough with my information and contacts to know that I’d put out a quality product. My handle on the information and the depth of it have really matured over the last year, so I feel it’s going to be the go-to resource on draft day for those who buy it. I think people will be pleasantly surprised by how the quality of my product and depth of information is as good as or better than any source out there on the Internet, and the price is a fraction of what you have to pay for it online.

Scoop: Bryce Harper is the most hyped prospect in this year’s draft, and many observers feel that the Nationals will grab him with the top pick.  Grab your crystal ball and take a look into the future.  How long do you think it will take Harper to reach the majors, and what do you expect him to accomplish in his career?

Andy: I would say mid-2013 at the earliest is the best possibility. Think of 2011 spent at Low-A ball, 2012 split between High-A and Double-A, then 2013 between Triple-A and the Majors. That’s a best-case scenario, but I think he has the talent to make it happen. I see him becoming a perennial all-star, but he’ll probably follow the career path of more of a Craig Biggio, who had to move off catcher to lengthen his career relatively early in the game. He could also turn out to be J.D. Drew if injuries creep in, and that’s a question that few can answer years in advance.

Scoop: Do you ever get burned out on baseball and just want to sit on the couch and watch reruns of 2 ½ Men for a solid week?

Andy: Definitely. I think the one thing I dislike most about what I do is that I can’t sit on the couch and just watch baseball for enjoyment anymore. I’m always looking at it from a different angle, through the lens of an evaluator rather than a fan. I’m not saying I’m the best scout or anything, but the mindset changed at some point, and I’m not really able to turn it off, even at a little league game watching a cousin’s kid. That being said, though I get tired of it, I always seem to enjoy what I do in the long run.

Scoop: OK, final question, and a very important one.  What sort of cuisine do you partake in when you go to a ballgame?  Personally, I try to grab a Pepsi, bratwurst, and nachos before the game and then try to grab some cotton candy around the 6th inning.

Andy: I’m pretty basic. I get the hot dog with mustard and a Dr. Pepper or Sprite, depending on if I need the caffeine. Once you go to enough high school games, you realize that the caffeine is necessary. Since I’m glued to my seat or wherever I’m standing to scout, I don’t get anything during the game, so I have to get it all down between infield practice and the lineup announcement.

Scoop: Thank for your time, Andy.  I’ll let you get back to your work in the bowels of the Draft Cave.

Be sure to check out Andy’s draft blog, MLB Bonus Baby, where you can find his 2010 Draft Guide for sale (PDF format).  It will contain profiles of 750 potential draftees as well as organizational previews of all 30 Major League teams.  The book will be delivered via email the Saturday before the draft, but you can order yours today.  At ten bucks, it’s a steal for die-hard fans.  Want a preview before you buy?  Check out a couple of draftee profiles and a team organizational profile.  Note – I am not being compensated in any way for endorsing the book – I simply truly believe that it will be a top shelf publication.