2017 Northwest League Top 20 Prospects Chat

Michael Lananna: Thanks for the questions, everyone. Let’s get started.

Roger (Greenville, SC): How high is Nate Pearson's upside, and what are the odds he can remain a starter?

Michael Lananna: Lots of questions about Pearson, and rightfully so. He was dominant this summer and drew rave reviews from everyone who saw him. He likely would’ve ranked in the top 3, certainly the top 5. Pearson’s upside is extremely high given his arm strength and ability to already dial up his fastball to triple-digits. He also the chance for a plus changeup. Whether he sticks as a starter is going to be dependent on the development of his breaking ball. It’s in there; he just needs to find more consistency with it.

Danny (Richmond, VA): Thanks for the chat, Michael. How close is Cole Ragans' curveball to being a viable third pitch for him? I know it's a work in progress, but has he shown significant progress? What can we expect moving forward?

Michael Lananna: No problem, Danny. Considering his age and his command of the pitch already, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about Ragans’ curveball. The main issue at present is that the pitch lacks bite; it’s a little too soft and loopy. He needs to learn to throw it harder. At this point in his development, I wouldn’t be terribly concerned.

Navin (Pasadena, CA): Hi Michael, Eugene's Jhonny Bethencourt, Jesus Camargo and Enrique de los Rios piqued my interest this season. Obviously none of them made the top 20 but I was wondering if you had anything of note about any of them. Thank you!

Michael Lananna: Hi Navin. Eugene manager Jesus Feliciano raved about Bethencourt and the improvements he made during the course of the year. No, he’s not a top prospect, but he has the chance to be a useful role player. He showed versatility, playing multiple positions for Eugene. He can hit a little bit, albeit without much power, and speed is part of his game as well.

Jeff (Somewhere): Aramis Ademan kind of snuck up on me this year as a guy with a potentially very high ceiling. I really like what he showed this year on paper and the field. Is he next up among Cubs bat prospects?

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Michael Lananna: Ademan took a really nice step forward this year, and you’re right, he does have a very high ceiling. While he plays beyond his years, his game does still need some polish. He made errors on a few routine plays, which comes with youth. And he’ll need to add a bit more strength to more consistently tap into his power at the plate. The ingredients are all there, and by all accounts the makeup and work ethic are too. He’s an exciting player, but he’s going to need a little more seasoning—which is perfectly normal given his age.

Jose (Louisville): How does this year compare to last year talent-wise? Feels pretty shallow at first glance

Michael Lananna: The back end of the list does drop off a tad, but at the top, I’d say it’s just as strong as last year’s. With that said, the makeup of the league is certainly much different. Last year’s list was more position-player heavy, with Leody Taveras and Kyle Lewis at the top. Pitching was more of a strength for the league this year.

Navin (Pasadena, CA): How concerned should Cubs fans be about Brendon Little's struggles in the NWL?

Michael Lananna: Mildly concerned, but don’t press the panic button yet. He’s the same guy. His control was erratic throughout his college career, and that’s still going to remain his biggest hurdle to the next level. This summer was just a small snapshot of that, and I’m sure the Cubs will work with him on his strikethrowing going forward. He’s still an exciting lefthanded arm with power stuff.

Jeff (Somewhere): Alex Lange had a couple outings for the Emeralds. Anything noteworthy about them? Why am I terrified for his elbow?

Michael Lananna: There’s no chance Lange was going to pitch much in pro ball this summer with the workload he had at LSU. Don’t be terrified. The LSU coaching staff was very mindful of his workload and chose not to start him on short rest in the College World Series to protect his arm. I’ve seen Lange quite a bit over the last few years. He’s a bulldog and a winner, and his breaking ball, when it’s on, is unhittable. He needs to work on his changeup and learn to pitch off his fastball more, but he has very high upside.

Michael Lananna: Any more questions about players not named Nate Pearson? (No offense, Nate.)

carlton (columbus): Did Salem-Keizer have anyone else close to making the list?

Michael Lananna: Yes. Shortstop Manuel Geraldo was in consideration, but ultimately there were too many questions with his bat to include him. He needs to refine his approach and cut down on swings and misses. He does have upside, though, and is worth watching going forward.

Dave (Scottsdale): League MVP not on the list?

Michael Lananna: He had a fine season. Often, stats and prospect status don’t line up, especially in short-season leagues.

Kingsley (Toronto, Canada): How is Riley Adams's receiving game coming along? I read some scouting report that it was his weakness in his defense

Michael Lananna: I got good reports on his receiving. That was a question for him heading into the draft, and it’s still something he’ll need to continue to work on, but from everyone I talked to, his receiving has taken strides forward.

Michael Lananna: All right, everyone. That’s all the time I have. I appreciate the questions and hope you enjoyed reading the list. If you’re not subscribing to BA, you should fix that!

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