All-Day Chat

Moderator: To celebrate Opening Day around the minors, we’ll
be chatting from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. So ask your prospects, minor
league, major league or any other baseball questions and we’ll answer
them.

 Q:  Eric from Louisville, KY asks:
Hey
thanks for the chat! Can someone please give me some form of
explanation as to why Tyler Kuhn is starting off in Low A this year???
He led the White Sox organization in batting average last year and the
rest of his numbers were more than solid as well. He was a 4 year
college guy who started out in Rookie Ball and dominated (he shouldn’t
have even been there to begin with) and now he’s in Low A. What’s going
on!?!!!!?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
No problem. I’ll be with you for our first hour today . . . Don’t get
worked up over Opening Day assignements, as guys can move quickly. The
White Sox have a lot of college shortstops they like and that’s why
Kuhn is in low Class A with Greg Paiml in high Class A. If Kuhn hits
like he did last summer, they won’t hold him back.

 Q:  Mark from Baltimore asks:
With the Orioles starting rotation questionable at best, when do you think McPhail brings up Tillman, Bergeson or Hernandez?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Their first two games notwithstanding, the Orioles aren’t going to
contend this year, so there’s no rush. I wouldn’t anticipate to see any
of those guys before the second half.

 Q:  Dave from Troy,NY asks:
Do
you foresee a scenario where the Washington Nationals’ continued
failures on the diamond in the early season puts Stephen Strasburg in
such a great bargaining position that he either refuses to sign with
them or asks for an amount that he knows won’t be agreed upon?I guess
my question is should the Nationals be very concerned with how they
progress this season as it relates to negotiations with Camp Strasburg?
Thanks
 A: 

Jim Callis:
We’re going to focus on Opening Day in this chat, but I figured I’d
take an obligatory Strasburg question. Short answer: No. He only has so
much leverage, and if the Nationals offer him $15 million or so on Aug.
15, he risks too much to turn that down.

Jim Callis:
Wanted to put a quick plug in. In case you haven’t seen them yet, we
break down where each team has sent its top prospects for Opening Day
(and what’s happened to the guys missing from rosters) on our Prospect
Blog. Check that out at http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
What
is the timetable for young sluggers Mike Stanton and Mike Moustakas? If
they succeed in High A, how quickly will they be promoted?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
They’ll most likely spend at least half a season in high Class A, if
not all of it. They’re more likely to start advancing quickly next year
because they’re still so young.

 Q:  Casey from Tupelo, MS asks:
What
are your thoughts on Zach Cozart? Does he have what it takes to be an
everyday shortstop or will he have to move to second or is he better as
a utility guy?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Remains to be seen. He has the defensive tools at shortstop but I’m
still not sold that he’ll hit enough to be a solid regular. Dayton is a
good place to hit, so take those 2008 numbers with a grain of salt.

 Q:  Sholom Stern from Smithtown, New York asks:
Why
do the Mets continue to rush their best prospects? I just read the
other day that Ruben Tejada is starting the season at Double-A. Two
years ago he was playing in the Summer and Gulf Coast leagues. Last
year in the Florida State League his batting average was just.229.
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Omar Minaya and Co. believe in a sink-or-swim philosophy, and Tejada is
the latest example. Personally, I’d be more conservative and let guys
have a better chance at building a foundation for success. It’s easier
to destroy a guy’s confidence than it is to rebuild it.

 Q:  Mike from Huntington Beach, CA asks:
How soon do you see Cleveland’s Huff, La Porta and Giminez being promoted to the majors?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Carl Pavano opens the season as Cleveland’s No. 3 starter, which tells
me we’ll see David Huff very soon. The Indians expect to win this year,
so if one of their sluggers struggles (such as Travis Hafner), we’ll
see Matt LaPorta quickly too. Chris Gimenez is more of a backup type,
so he’ll have to wait for his turn.

 Q:  Suzanne from Lancaster, CA asks:
What do Lancaster JetHawks fans have to look forward to this year? Any prospects we should be excited about?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Catcher Jason Castro, Houston’s No. 1 prospect and the 10th overall
pick in the 2008 draft, highlights the Lancaster roster. Righthander
Chia-Jen Lo, the first major signing for the Astros in the Pacific Rim
(Taiwan), also will make his pro debut there.

 Q:  Corey from Syracuse, NY asks:
Why
are people so down on the Astros farm system? It seems to me that the
2008 draft has injected serious talent into the system, and I don’t
understand why so many publications (including BA) are so harsh on
them. Any explanation?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
It’s not just publications . . . Teams that evaluate other farm systems
aren’t high on the Astros. Bad decisions and general stinginess
contributed to several bad drafts, and there’s no depth and little star
power in the system. Most of their best prospects are 2008 draftees who
have had little chance to fail, and attrition will get some of them. I
like righthander Bud Norris, their No. 2 prospect, but I also don’t
know of anyone who thinks he’s really going to be a star. Let’s see how
those 2008 draftees do this year—it will give us a better perspective
as to what the Astros really have.

 Q:  Ed from New Hampshire asks:
Hi
Jim, How would your rate Brandon Allen and Jordan Danks as prospects?
Do you think they will be productive major league players? Which one
has the higher upside?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Terrible news . . . news outlets are reporting that Nick Adenhart was
killed in a car accident early this morning after pitching six shutout
innings against the A’s.

Jim Callis: Back to our chat .
. . They’re two of the best position prospects. Allen has a lot of
power but has been slow to develop. If he can keep the momentum going
that he built last year, he could be in Chicago’s 2010 lineup. Danks is
the best all-around athlete in the system. If he develops the power
potential he showed in high school (but didn’t realize in college), he
could be a star. Otherwise, he should be a solid regular.

 Q:  Steve from Nashville, TN asks:
What
can you tell us about Jay Jackson? He was a 9th rounder last year out
of Furman, and was dominant in his first pro season. Diamond in the
rough?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Jackson was a two-way star at Furman, and those guys often show better
stuff once they become full-time pitchers. Jackson has a chance to have
four average or better pitches, and he helped high Class A Daytona win
the FSL title in his first pro summer. The Cubs will test him this
year, jumping him to Double-A.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Given
his performance in spring training, and the start he got off to last
night, do you think Brad Emaus has the potential to move quickly? Does
Aaron Hill have the chops to move back to short?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Emaus went 3-for-4 with three doubles last night. I’ve always kind of
liked him and he is one of the better position prospects in the system.
But I don’t think playing shortstop is a good option with Hill.

 Q:  Dan from Branchburg, NJ asks:
Can
you sort through the hype for me please?… I’ve heard Daniel Murphy
compared to all sorts of guys over the past couple of weeks…
Defensively he’s a work in progress no matter where he plays, but
offensively is he closer to John Olerud (high avg, low HR, high
doubles, good situational hitter)or Ty Wigginton (over-hyped Met,
decent regular, placeholder for the big prospect)?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
That’s really two ends of the spectrum. Murphy can hit but he’s also
being overhyped. I think he’s a solid regular but not a true star.

 Q:  Charlie from Fayetteville, AR asks:
How long before the Cardinals call up Jess Todd?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Now that they’ve moved him to the bullpen, which is probably the best
fit, I really wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him by the end of May.

 Q:  Swanny from Pawleys Island,SC asks:
Where is Eric Hosmer starting at this season from the Royals organization ?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Hosmer is at low Class A Burlington. Look for him to follow in Mike
Moustakas’ footsteps and make it two straight Midwest League home run
titles for the Royals.

 Q:  Muddy Johnny from Raleigh-Durham, NC asks:
About how long can I expect to see Price pitch here before he gets sent back to TB?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Good question. He faces off against Matt Wieters tomorrow. I think this
move is less about service time, because Price already accumulated some
last September, and more about keeping his arm fresh for later in the
year. I’d expect him to stay in Durham for at least a month and maybe
as many as two.

 Q:  Clooch from VT asks:
There
were several positive reports on Andrew Brackman coming out of Yankees
camp this spring and it seems, at least to some extent, that some of
the negative criticism that he’s received over the past year or so
amounts to piling on as he continues to recover from TJ surgery. What
does his outlook for 2009 look like? 2009+?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Has there really been negative criticism? The Yankees knew Brackman was
hurt when they signed him and would be out for a while. I think this
year the plan is to slowly work him into pro ball and get him going,
which is why he’s starting in low Class A, and next year will be the
year he really takes off.

 Q:  Jack from OH asks:
Thoughts on Hector Rondon? Nice AA debut with 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K and 8 GB outs in 5.2 last night.
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Rondon is definitely on the rise. He has as much upside as just about
any pitcher in the Cleveland system and could reach the majors before
the end of the season.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
When can Bucs fans expect Cutch to get the call this year (hopefully to stay)?
 A: 

Jim Callis: Around the all-star break. Nate McLouth is the only permanent fixture in that outfield.

 Q:  Clooch from VT asks:
Where
will Nationals prospect Chris Marrero begin the year this year? Where
will he end up? Did he at least show that he was healthy in Spring
Training this year?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
He’s going back to Potomac, where he started slowly last year before
breaking his leg. He should hit fine and finish the year in Double-A.
Looks primed for a rebound.

 Q:  Jamie from Virginia asks:
What are the A’s plans with Vin Mazzaro since the less than spectacular spring, does he still fit into future rotation plans?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Spring training isn’t going to change the fact that Mazzaro is a good
prospect. He needed some time into Triple-A anyway, and he’s only 22.

 Q:  james from Texas asks:
2
Catching prospects: Do you think Luis Exposito will be a vital option @
catcher for the Red Sox with Tek getting long in the tooth or will he
be moved to a different position? The same about Wilson Ramos with the
Twins with Mauer back problems.
 A: 

Jim Callis:
Big year for both guys. Exposito had a big year in 2008, but part of it
came at Lancaster’s launching bad and Double-A is considered the
toughest jump to make in the majors. He has the tools to develop into a
viable starting catcher, and this year we’ll have a better idea if he’s
for real. Ramos has a longer track record of success, but not a lot
longer, and he’s also making the jump to Double-A. Ramos is the better
prospect at this point.

 Q:  Jon from Peoria asks:
Were
you surprised that Starlin Castro starts the year at Daytona ahead of
Ryan Flaherty? Also, do you think that Flaherty could see time at
second with Junior Lake also on the Peoria roster?
 A: 

Jim Callis:
I was, though the Cubs are another organization that aggressively
promotes players and they had a lot of shortstops to place. But I would
have done what you suggest, putting Flaherty in Dayton and letting
Castro and Lake split time as 19-year-olds in Peoria. I do think
Flaherty will see some time at second, but Josh Harrison is also on
that roster. Flaherty probably won’t be a shortstop in the long run,
and third base might be the best fit, but Josh Vitters will man the hot
corner in Peoria.

Moderator: That’s it for Jim Callis . . . the next BA staffer
in the chat room is John Manuel, who’s live from the Charlotte-Gwinnett
County game. Here’s John!

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
I
saw the San Jose Giants mentioned by at least a couple baseball people
as being loaded to start. How many of them do you see making
contributions in the future with the big league club?
 A: 

Moderator:
John Manuel here . . . I’ll be “Moderator” for a while until I remember
how to change that. I’m also going to try to sneak in a blog post here
or there on this Charlotte vs. Gwinnett game. Great to see a team field
a bunt and a team execute, just fun to watch.

Moderator:
San Jose is loaded, no doubt. We love the front of the rotation with
Madison Bumgarner, Tim Alderson and Scott Barnes, a nice sleeper
(Barnes). It’s an all-prospect infield with Angel Villalona at 1st,
Nick Noonan at 2nd, Brandon Crawford (’08 4th round pick) at short and
Conor Gillaspie at third; and of course Buster Posey behind the plate.
Then there’s Roger Kieschnick in the OF with speedy Darren Ford as
well. That’s one of the best opening day rosters, the best one I’ve
seen to this point anyway, but I haven’t studied every single one.

 Q:  Rob from Alaska asks:
Where is Sean Doolittle to open the season? He seems squeezed out between Daric Barton at AAA and Chris Carter at AA.
 A: 

Moderator:
Well, he got squeezed up, Rob, he’s at Triple-A Sacramento, and he’s
got a chance to be better than Daric Barton because he gives a darn
about defense. We don’t have him on the official roster, but we
understand he will start the year with the RiverCats, as he played for
them in a scrimmage the other day.

 Q:  Casey from Kingsport, TN asks:
What
are your thoughts on Will Venable? Does he have what it takes to be a
starting outfielder or is he more of a 4th spot guy? Thanks in advance.
Casey
 A: 

Moderator:
Like him, think he’s a solid average big league regular if given a
chance. Padres are a mess and it’s a shame, I respect a lot of the
people there, sounds like too many cooks.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
Who are the top candidates to be the top prospect in baseball at this time next year?
 A: 

John Manuel:
Mike Stanton and Jason Heyward leap to the front of this line for me,
with Madison Bumgarner another candidate. The other name obviously to
mention is Stephen Strasburg. That’s a pretty fantastic four.

 Q:  Jacob from Washington D.C. asks:
Is it time to give up on Bill Rowell or can he actually have a productive year this year?
 A: 

John Manuel:
Never been a huge Rowell fan, pick that sticks out in a bad way in the
top of that 2006 first round, but it’s understandable in a way because
he did have as much if not more power than any prep hitter in that
draft. I’d wait and see how he adjusts this year moving out of the
infield. Rowell is back at high Class A Frederick; guys have repeated a
level and figured it out, Mike Cuddyer sticks out in my head.

 Q:  Mike from Akron asks:
Some Cleveland writers say Rondon could be a midseason call-up. Is that time table too aggressive?
 A: 

John Manuel:
I don’t think so, not with the big league pitching situation in
Cleveland, where there are some real question marks. Doesn’t mean those
guys will all struggle, but Anthony Reyes and Scott Lewis are hardly
established guys; I anticipate some opportunity in Cleveland, and
Rondon is well-positioned to jump into that breach if he keeps up what
he did last night.

 Q:  Ryan from Indiana asks:
First
of all, thanks for hosting another chat. Last night, Ryan Strieby
seemed to pick up where he left off last season as he smacked 2 homers
with 4 RBI including what ended up being the game winner for Erie. Ever
since he changed his swing midway through last season, he has been a
power machine (29 homers last year despite missing the last month of
the season due to injury). What kind of numbers do you expect to see
from him this season?
 A: 

John Manuel:
You’re welcome. Kind of like Strieby as a minor league slugger, and in
the right situation, if he gets a chance and takes advantage of it, I
can see him being a solid-average big league 1B for a few years. I
don’t see him as a future star, and he is blocked by Miguel Cabrera in
Detroit’s system. Hard to get trade value for a minor league 1B; the
Phillies couldn’t find a taker for Ryan Howard for crying out loud. But
Strieby is a nice sleeper, his power is legit.

 Q:  Don from Rosemont, IL asks:
What can be expected of Grant Desme if he can stay healthy for a whole year?
 A: 

John Manuel:
Power and speed, at least speed for a big man, he’s a 20 homer
candidate. I’m just anxious to see what he does if he’s healthy all
year. He was really impressing everyone in 2007 at Cal Poly but just
can’t stay on the field.

 Q:  Brian Boguesvic from Houston Farm System asks:
I switched from pitcher and was wondering what my hitting ceiling is? Could I be as good as Rick Ankiel?
 A: 

John Manuel:
No, because you lack Ankiel’s power. Different player, more
speed-oriented than power. Ankiel homered off the hotel in SkyDome in
1997 (using a metal bat) while playing for the USA Baseball junior
national team; he ALWAYS had big raw power. Bogus does not.

 Q:  Casey from Tupelo, MS asks:
Can Stephen Head make it to the bigs or will be be a guy off the bench?
 A: 

John Manuel:
The fact that Head has seen some outfield time makes him a much better
bet to make the majors, but I do see the former Ole Miss star as an
extra guy rather than as a regular. He’s a LH hitting power guy who has
arm strength, can play 1B, LF and maybe RF, though he’s not a great
runner at all. Great college player.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
How quickly do you see both Holland and Feliz reaching the Majors this year?

Thanks

 A: 

John Manuel:
Wouldn’t shock me to see one or both after the All-Star break, earlier
if the Rangers get off to a good start and are in it. Feliz was up to
98 mph according to the reports we have from this spring, and Holland
was sitting 94-96 in one outing with a mid-80s change and solid slider.

John Manuel: Meanwhile, Tommy Hanson has NINE strikeouts
through four innings here in Charlotte. I mean, he’s just toying with a
solid Triple-A lineup.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Which prospects from last years Draft do you see having the most immediate success?
 A: 

John Manuel:
Eric Hosmer should put up numbers very similar to what Mike Moustakas
did last year in the Midwest League, though he might be an even better
hitter and get off to a better start. I’m looking for a big year from
Kyle Skipworth this year at low A Greensboro in the Marlins system.
Also could see Shooter Hunt lighting it up this year, starting in
Beloit, if he has success throwing strikes with his fastball. Justin
Smoak had a great spring, and he could jump to Double-A and really rake
from day one. Lastly, I expect Pedro Alvarez to jump in and dominate
the Carolina League. Our reports on him this spring also are strong, he
was in shape, hustled, hit well.

 Q:  Bryan from San Francisco asks:
How much time does Kyle Blanks have to waste in AAA?
 A: 

John Manuel:
A lot depends on what the Padres do. Say the Padres were completely
nuts and put me in charge; I’d have my scouts bear down on Blanks,
truly evaluate if he was a legit major league starter (which I think he
is), then gauge the market for Adrian Gonzalez, and if I can get
quantity and quality for Adrian, I might have to deal him. If I could
get a young pitcher for Blanks, I’d make that deal, though. This org
needs pitching and athletes, and if I got either of those kinds of
things for Blanks, I’d make that deal.

 Q:  Lance from OH asks:
Carlos
Rivero – any thoughts on him? He’s kind of intriguing since he came out
strong at the end of last year and opened up in AA last night as 20
year old and drew 2 walks and got a base hit.
 A: 

John Manuel:
Think Jhonny Peralta, though a bit thinner (nothing against Peralta
there). Sounds like he’s got a chance to stay at short but could move
to 3B if needed, but the Tribe likes the bat, the arm, the aptitude.
He’s got to continue to improve his selectivity and translate more of
his raw power, but a .411 slugging as a 20-year-old in the Carolina
League is pretty strong. He’s at Double-A Akron to start the year.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
How
quickly do you see Matusz moving? Where is he starting the year and
could he move the quickest of all of the Orioles pitching prospects?
 A: 

John Manuel:
As fast as his fastball will allow. AS long as he throws with velocity
and command and some movement, he’ll be fine, because the secondary
stuff is all there.

 Q:  Eric from Hickory asks:
What kind of upside does Wilfredo Boscan have? He’s starting the opener for Hickory tonight.
 A: 

John Manuel:
Significant — he’s Texas’ No. 11 prospect and has a quick arm, he’s
filling out his body and he’s showing average velo that should improve
to above-average as he continues to fill out. He’s also shown command
of his fastball and changeup, which can be plus. He’s just 19 so he’s
got a lot of development left, but he’s part of an exciting Hickory
roster that includes Wilmer Font and Martin Perez on the mound, plus
some solid bats such as Eric Fry, Jared Bolden and Mike Bianucci, all
outfielders out of college who should fare well in the SAL.

John Manuel:
Bad news for the “Good Guys.” White Sox prospect Cole Armstrong is
taking himself out after singling off Tommy Hanson here in the bottom
of the fifth, with an apparent leg injury.

 Q:  Jason from San Fran asks:
Where
do you think Buster Posey ends up by season’s end? Provided the Giants
are out of it and he has performed well during the year, any chance
they give him a look in September?
 A: 

John Manuel:
The Giants actually are my NL sleeper due to their pitching, and I
foresee a better Zito year this year now that he’s long-tossing again.
He pitched fairly well this spring. So don’t see the Giants having to
rush Posey, yet if he hits, I definitely see him coming up in
September, with Bengie Molina a free agent at season’s end.

John Manuel:
Tommy Hanson is done due to his pitch limit. He went 4 1/3 innings,
struck out 10, so 10 K’s out of 13 outs; he leaves with runners on
first and second after a hit by Cole Armstrong and a hit batsman, then
he struck out Miguel Negron. At least we get Kris Medlen to piggyback
him, Medlen’s relieving.

 Q:  Jose from Florida asks:
Does Chad Tracy (rangers) have a chance to make it to the bigs with the rangers system being as stacked as it is?
 A: 

Moderator:
Don’t see it now that he’s not catching anymore; bat would have had to
carry him, and it doesn’t seem like there’s enough bat there as a
corner OF.

 Q:  Craig from Oakland, CA asks:
Will SF continue to develop Scott Barnes as a starter or switch him to a situational lefty ?
 A: 

John Manuel:
Don’t see why he’d move to the bullpen considering he was very good and
is already in high Class A. Let him fail as a starter first before you
move him to the pen, IMO.

 Q:  jose from florida asks:
Thanks for the chat guys! Will Pedro Beato ever bounce back? or is he a failed prospect already?
 A: 

John Manuel:
Final note on Hanson from Kary Booher who’s downstairs; he reports that
Hanson’s slider was the key pitch for him other than his heater, which
sat at 93 in the fifth inning. He mixed in nasty sliders to hitters
from both sides, and just impressed throughout.

John Manuel:
I like Beato but I’m skeptical for sure; was his stuff in JC just a
mirage? He hasn’t dominated as a pro yet. He’s one to watch closely; I
have faith but it was shaken last year for sure.

 Q:  BL from Bozeman asks:
Thanks
for the chat, Jim (et al). Is there anything to like in the Royals
system in the way of position players outside of Hosmer and Moustakas?
I’m thinking specifically of Derrick Robinson and Johnny Giovatella, do
either have a serious chance of making an impact in KC?
 A: 

John Manuel:
Keep forgetting to give Hanson’s line: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 SO, 1
HBP. Medlen showed a fastball up to 92 while flashing a plus 82 mph
slider and solid changeup. He struck out Torres and Myrow to end the
5th, so that’s 12 K’s in 5 IP. Jack Egbert on for the Knights to
replace John VanBenschoten.

John Manuel: The Royals love
Robinson; we prefer Giovatella. I’d say our faith in Robinson’s bat is
lower than KC’s. I’d throw out David Lough, a strong, small-bodied but
athletic OF out of Division II Mercyhurst (Pa.) Lough will play with
Robinson at high Class A Wilmington. We also recommend C Salvador
Perez, who will share duties with Jose Bonilla and Sean McCauley, all
somewhat prospects, at low A Burlington.

 Q:  Cody from San Diego asks:
What kind of year do you think Matt Latos will have if he stays healthy and what are his major league projections?
 A: 

John Manuel:
Wow, Brooks Conrad just hit a no-doubt bomb, a long, long home run off
Jack Egbert; it was a 2-run shot, and Charlotte leads 5-0 in the 6th.

John Manuel:
Health is an issue for any pitcher, but maturity and makeup is a bigger
deal for Latos. He just needs to grow up and apply himself, work
harder, try harder to be a good teammate and realize, as The King told
Lightning McQueen, that this ain’t a one-man deal here.

 Q:  Jason from fmr. Great Falls, MT asks:
Are there any breakout Pirates on the BA radar? (Not the usuals Alvarez, etc.)
 A: 

John Manuel:
I would have said Jarek Cunningham before he hurt his knee this spring,
bu, well, he hurt his knee this spring. How about RHP Brent Klinger, a
juco kid from Arizona with arm strength and some athleticism, or Matt
Hague, who should really hit from the get go and reminds me a bit of
Steve Pearce?

 Q:  Mike from Salt Lake city asks:
Are
the Angles going end up Trading Brandon Wood, they cant seem to find a
spot for him, he doesnt hit for contact doesnt fit well with the Angles
style of play. ?
 A: 

John Manuel:
Mike, it seems like they should, but it’s not like they have to, or
that they should give him away. I feel badly for Wood in a way, but
he’s not the first this has happened to. He does seem like a poor fit;
other teams probably recognize this and low-ball the Angels, hoping
they’ll give him away. Just don’t see that happening. Kind of an
intractable situation.

 Q:  Sam the Minuteman from Amherst, Massachusetts asks:
Once
again, another promising Spring Training for Adam Miller, marred by a
freak injury. Any updates on the new pitching grip? Any history of
other pitchers that would give me any reason to be optimistic? I think
I have finally given up on him…
 A: 

John Manuel:
I’ve pretty much resigned Miller to the pitching-injury bin. I don’t
know of anyone else with that condition, but that’s my ignorance, not
my knowledge talking. I wish him luck but I’m not optimistic.

 Q:  Joey M. from Kearney, Nebraska asks:
Sad
news about Nick Adenhart. Not only a superbly talented young man, but a
22 year old life gone because of the stupidity of another. R.I.P. My
question is: I’m moving to Lexington (for a job) next month, and I want
to know what players that play for the Lexington Legends I should look
for?
 A: 

John Manuel:
Very sad, just awful. Hard to find good news these days — here it’s
opening day and we get the Adenhart news. I was getting caught up in
Hanson and Medlen (Medlen has 3 K’s in five outs), but I keep getting
reminded of Adenhart. Wish I had comforting words, but I don’t.

John Manuel:
That’s what our roster analysis is for, check it out on our prospects
blog. We wrote: “Much of the hope for the future is here, led by 2008
high school RHPs Ross Seaton and Jordan Lyles. OF Jay Austin is an
exceptional athlete, and 1B Phil Disher mashed at South Carolina.”

John Manuel: I’m out; off to Jim Shonerd. Take it away, Indiana!

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
What MiLB team has the best rotation this year? Who will be the most loaded overall?
 A: 

Jim Shonerd:
Hi everyone, great to be here although the Nick Adenhart news has
certainly put a damper on the proceedings. I’ll heading out to
Greensboro this evening to watch Kyle Skipworth and the Grasshoppers
take on Michael Almanzar and the Greenville Drive.

Jim Shonerd:
The answer is probably San Jose on both counts. Alderson, Bumgarner and
Scott Barnes in the rotation. Buster Posey, Angel Villalona and Nick
Noonan in the lineup. That’s a ridiculously loaded team.

 Q:  BL from Bozeman asks:
Do
you like KC’s move of Carlos Rosa to the bullpen? Any reports on him
from the spring? Any timetable on him moving into the Royals’ bullpen?
 A: 

Jim Shonerd:
It’s probably best for him, healthwise. He had Tommy John in 2004 and
had to be shut down early last year due to a tender arm, though the
Royals didn’t have any health concerns with him when I was doing the
PCL Top 20 last year. He has the stuff to be a starter, but I can see
him fitting in as a flame throwing reliever if his other pitches don’t
come along.

 Q:  Andrew from Delaware asks:
How
long do you think it will be before the Orioles top pitching prospects
contribute at the major league level? And other than Matt Weiters, do
they have any top-flight hitters in their organization?
 A: 

Jim Shonerd:
Some of them could be ready this year, but the O’s aren’t rushing them
nor do they need to. Chris Tillman is opening in Triple-A and could see
the majors at some point this year. Brian Matusz is in High A, but
could move quickly. Those two should both be in the majors full-time
next year, and Jake Arrieta may not be far behind.

 Q:  Jeff from Toronto, Canada asks:
Heyward
and Montero had practically identical stats last year (same league),
yet on every ranking list they sit as little as about 20 and as much as
80 spots apart. Why is Heyward that much better of a prospect or did
Montero fluke out?
 A: 

Jim Shonerd:
You can chalk that up to Montero’s being unlikely to remain at catcher
and moving to first base or left field eventually. Both are excellent
hitters, but Heyward has five-tool ability.

 Q:  Bryan from SF asks:
Whats the timetable for Tim Alderson this year?
 A: 

Jim Shonerd: He should be moving up Connecticut once the weather warms up there. Expect to see him in the majors next year.

 Q:  BL from Bozeman asks:
How aggressive would you expect the Royals to be with Moustakas and Hosmer? And, where does Kila Kia’ahue fit in the equation?
 A: 

Jim Shonerd:
I don’t expect them to be too aggressive. The Royals usually don’t rush
their high school guys. They let Moustakas stay in low A all year last
year and I’d expect them to take the same course with Hosmer. Moustakas
will start the year high A and could stay there for the duration as
well, but his bat may accelerate his timetable.

Jim Shonerd:
Ka’aihue is definitely caught in a pinch, and the Royals didn’t do him
any favors by trading for Mike Jacobs. Moustakas could move to a corner
OF and so could Hosmer.

 Q:  Mike from Portland Or asks:
Is Ft Wayne the best team the Padres have as terms of prospects?
 A: 

Jim Shonerd:
Double-A San Antonio will be strong with Cedric Hunter and Kellen
Kulbacki, but the TinCaps should have a dangerous offense with the
college trio of James Darnell, Allen Dykstra and Blake Tekotte. You can
check out analysis of every minor league roster on our Prospects Blog,
here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/?p=3147

 Q:  Nick from New York asks:
Who do you think will have a better year, and why? Mike Stanton, or Josh Vitters?
 A: 

Jim Shonerd: Both will be in challenging leagues for hitters, but I’ll take Stanton given his stronger track record.

 Q:  Jerry Smith from Des Moines asks:
How
do you rank Villalona versus an Alonso, Freeman, or Morrison? Do you
take the higher upside, or is the more polished version better?
 A: 

Jim Shonerd:
Tough call. I think I’ll go Alonso, Villalona, Morrison, Freeman. I’d
put Big V number one but I’d like him to cut down on the strikeouts
first. No bad choices there though.

Jim Shonerd: And now I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Ben Badler. Have a great day everyone.

 Q:  Russ from Bethesda, MD asks:
What
are the A’s plans for Brett Hunter this year? Starting, relieving,
limited innings? If he stays relatively healthy, what is his ceiling?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
I always get excited for minor league Opening Day, knowing that we’re
on the cusp of having brand new data trickle in to us in the form of
performance records and scouting reports. But the tragic news of the
day has me completely deflated, so I’ll be honest, my focus isn’t all
here right now, but I’m here for another hour before heading to live
blog Matt Wieters’ first Triple-A game on our Prospects Blog.

Ben Badler: Hunter will start in Low-A and I expect them to use him as a starter. Ultimately I think he’s best suited for relief work.

 Q:  Gus Milonas from Kentucky asks:
What type of season will Michael Main have, given that hes pitching in the Cal league? Thanks!
 A: 

Ben Badler:
I love Michael Main as a prospect. The Cal League will inflate his ERA,
but that’s just noise. I think he’ll shoot up the rankings this year.

 Q:  Henry T from Tiburon CA asks:
True/False At this time next year Angel Villalona will be a top 20 prospect?
 A: 

Ben Badler: False, but he’ll still be in the top 100.

 Q:  KO from Pittsfield, MA asks:
How
quickly do you see the Pirates promoting Pedro Alvarez? They drooled
over him this Spring and already seem frustrated with Andy LaRoche.
 A: 

Ben Badler: I wouldn’t expect Alvarez to make it past Double-A this season.

 Q:  mymrbig from New Orleans asks:
What
kind of power ceiling does Freddie Freeman have? Also, I’ve seen a few
publications (can’t remember if it was you guys, or someone else)
question his strike zone judgment and contact skills, but his BB% and
K% seemed fine last year. Is this a legitimate concern?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
I don’t see any reason to be concerned about his walk or contact rates
either. He gets overshadowed by Jason Heyward, which is why I think he
is underrated right now.

 Q:  Mike Stewart from Raleigh/Durham asks:
David
Price makes his debut this season in just over 24 hours…is there any
reason to believe that he makes no more than 2 stars in Durham before
heading down to Tampa?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
He could make more starts than that for Durham, it really just depends
on how long he needs to stay down there for the Rays to delay his
service clock (which is what this move is about, much moreso than
limiting his innings or improving his pitching skill). And it’s the
right move, too.

 Q:  Cody from Knoxville asks:
How
big of a year can J.P. Arencibia have playing in the PCL? He could
easily put up 30-40 HRs unless he is called up early or injured.
 A: 

Ben Badler:
30-40 HRs? That’s just not happening for any prospect who’s starting
the year in Triple-A. He has power, but I’m not convinced that his
plate discipline is going to be enough for him to be a major league
regular.

 Q:  Kennedy from Tulsa asks:
Is
Aaron Hicks a good candidate for a Heyward type leap up prospect charts
this year? I notice he’s listed in the annual as the 2012 CF, and
that’s a nice sign of confidence.
 A: 

Ben Badler:
Yes, a great combination of plus tools and feel for the strike zone.
Not quite the same power as Heyward, but he’s a better all-around
athlete and will stick in CF.

 Q:  Henry T from Tiburon, CA asks:
Now
that Cahill and Anderson are in the big leagues, and assuming they stay
there would you say the Giants have the best system in the Bay Area let
alone California?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
Good question. By the end of the year, the Giants could certainly
leapfrog the A’s. Cahill and Anderson are a couple of big matzah balls
(and hey, appropriate timing!) out of the farm system, and the Giants
probably won’t have any of their top prospects graduating to the big
leagues this year. So I could see the Giants’ system taking a step
forward ahead of the A’s, especially with the sixth overall pick in the
draft this year.

 Q:  Lindsay from Jacksonville asks:
Is Wilin Rosario the real deal?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
The Rockies think so. Guys who saw him in the Pioneer League think so,
which is why I ranked him as the top prospect in that league. I’m
cautiously optimistic on Rosario until I get a full-season record on
him.

 Q:  Kris from Burlington asks:
Carlos Santana, Starter by July 1st?
 A: 

Ben Badler: In Triple-A, sure.

 Q:  Brad from MO asks:
What minor league teams are prospect loaded and well worth making the trip to see this summer?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
The Indians have a loaded lineup in Double-A Akron: Carlos Santana,
Nick Weglarz, Carlos Rivero, Beau Mills. The White Sox seem to have all
of their prospects concentrated at AA as well with Gordon Beckham,
Brandon Allen, Aaron Poreda, Tyler Flowers and Dayan Viciedo at
Birmingham.

 Q:  Jack from Gary, Ind asks:
Long-time
Sox fan here. Will Tyler Flowers be able to stay at catcher, and if
not, does his bat carry to 1B? If so, does Allen move to DH?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
He has a chance, it just depends on how much emphasis the White Sox put
on defense at catcher. I think his bat will be enough at 1B, any way.

 Q:  Steve from Denver asks:
This year’s minor league HR champ will be. . .?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
I assume you don’t want to hear me say the name of a minor league
veteran. Mike Stanton has a chance, but man, playing in the FSL that’s
going to be tough. Chris Carter’s going to be in some hitter-friendly
environments, he’ll spend all year in the minors and he has
top-of-the-charts raw power, so he has a good chance at the mark.

 Q:  Nate from Rhode Island asks:
How
do you think Bumgarner’s promotion to the Cal League will affect him?
Will we see a rise in his ERA/WHIP, or is he the type of pitcher that
will be able to handle the parks there? And, how soon before the Giants
promote him to AA if all does go well? I have to think that they’ll
account for the league when they look over his stats at midseason, and
his breaking pitches were already progressing nicely in the second half
last year.
 A: 

Ben Badler:
Sure, the Cal League will bump up his ERA, but like you said, that’s
just because it’s a high run-scoring environment. I think the Giants
might push him along quickly to Double-A once the weather in
Connecticut gets warmer.

 Q:  Mike Baldelli from Wallingford, Connecticut asks:
Where is Wilmer Flores starting the year and how quickly do you see him moving up the system?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
He’ll start in Low-A Savannah. He’s already well ahead of schedule, but
if he’s hitting well by midseason, I think the Mets will move him up to
High-A.

 Q:  Brad from College Park, MD asks:
Gordon Beckham looks to be a star in the making, whats the earliest possible time we see him get everyday at bats in the Bigs?
 A: 

Ben Badler: We could see him in Chicago in September. I see an above-average player, position TBD based on organizational need.

 Q:  Rob from Alaska asks:
I
see Desmond Jennings has drawn the AA assignment despite minimal
playing time at high A last year. What’s the latest word on him?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
That assignment stuck out to me too, Rob. Jennings is loaded with tools
and athleticism, and on top of that he already has good strike-zone
discipline. If Jennings never had any health problems, he’d be a top 25
prospect in baseball right now. If he just stays healthy the whole
season, he’ll zoom up the prospect rankings.

 Q:  Andrew from New York asks:
Can Mike Burgess become Mike Stanton, or are they completely different animals?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
Different animals. Stanton made adjustments with his swing and cut down
on his strikeout rate. He still has room for improvement there and
there’s still risk with Stanton, but Burgess has a long swing and a lot
of swing-and-miss. They’re not really in the same boat for me.

 Q:  Andrew from New York asks:
Who do you prefer long term: Gamel, Wood, or Smoak?
 A: 

Ben Badler: Smoak

 Q:  Andrew from New York asks:
Do
you agree with the Rays’ philosophy of keeping Price in Durham? I’ve
always thought you become a major leaguer in the major leagues.
 A: 

Ben Badler:
I fully endorse the Rays’ decision. It keeps costs down and it keeps
Price around longer (thanks, CBA!). I think people drastically
overestimate the impact of having him miss a few starts in the big
leagues will have on the team’s final record.

 Q:  Zach from MN asks:
How does Aaron Hicks compare as a prospect with Andrew Mccutcheon and Cameron Maybin when they were at the same level?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
Probably a little from Column A, a little from Column B. They’re all
great athletes, though at 6-2, Hicks is a couple inches shorter than
Maybin and a few inches taller than McCutchen. Hicks doesn’t have the
same kinds of contact issues that Maybin has had in the minors, which
is a plus, and his swing plane through the zone is probably better than
Maybin’s too.

 Q:  Jaypers from Lincoln asks:
What
do you see Aaron Poreda doing this year? Where will he end up by
seasons end? Do you think he will keep a starting job or be relegated
to a reliever role?
 A: 

Ben Badler:
I’m sure they’ll keep him as a starter since there’s no need to convert
him to the bullpen yet, no injury risk or anything like that from what
I can tell. But ultimately I think he’s a bullpen arm.

 Q:  ben from rochester asks:
Does Angel Morales become a solid prospect this season?
 A: 

Ben Badler: He’s already a solid prospect. Big-time power, but the contact issues are just as big.

 Q:  Andrew from York, PA asks:
How
far up the ladder do you expect Jason Castro to climb in his first full
year? AA? AAA? September call-up? The Astros seem like they’re gonna
push him pretty aggressively…
 A: 

Ben Badler: Probably Double-A. Hard to see the Astros contending this year, so I don’t see a reason to rush him.

Ben Badler: All right, off to watch Matt Wieters take batting practice. I leave you with the honorable Matt Eddy…

 Q:  Christian from San Diego asks:
Where is Mat Latos startung the season? What should we expect? ETA to the majors?
 A: 

Matt Eddy: The early indication is that Latos will begin on Lake Elsinore’s DL. We’ll have more on this when we get more information.

 Q:  Chris H from Boston asks:
Will we see Greg Halman in the majors this year? Any chance we see an improvement in his batting eye?
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
That would seem a bit aggressive for a player with strike-zone judgment
issues, which were readily apparent during the WBC. If Halman conquers
the Southern League this season, he may be in line for a promotion to
Tacoma, a club which figures to be able to use his power bat.

 Q:  Steve from Tampa asks:
What
do you think about Aneury Rodriguez? I had not heard about him before
Tampa’s trade. His stat’s and numbers look pretty good for the Cal
League. Seems he struggled towards the end though. Any thoughts on him
and the trade?
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
Good trade for both teams. The Rays preferred Niemann in their rotation
and didn’t want to lose Hammel on waivers or waste another year of his
career by pitching him in long relief. As to Rodriguez, a pitcher with
his fine control, two-pitch mix and durability ought to serve him well
as a reliever or back-end starter.

 Q:  James from Whiteman Air Force Base, MO asks:
Is
Matt Antonelli starting in Portland this year? I can’t find him on the
roster anywhere. Do you think he can bounce back from his off season
last year? He looked decent this spring but we all know spring numbers
don’t mean much.
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
As the official BA Antonelli apologist, I say yes he can bounce back.
His fine batting eye remains intact, now it’s just a matter of focusing
on staying with his game and not trying to muscle everything. Like
Latos, he’s slated to begin the year on the DL.

 Q:  josh from san francisco asks:
I
agree that sometimes the Mets do rush prospects too fast, but I think
in the case of Ruben Tejeda, he’s finally coming around. He played well
this spring, started out well last night and I think he looks bigger
and stronger than last year.
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
Not really a comment on Tejada, who may be on the verge of justifying
the Mets’ faith. (They’ve had him in big league camp two years in a row
now, to go with the rapid promotions.) But with Low A and High A
shortstop duties falling to Wilmer Flores and Reese Havens, the only
everyday playing time will have to come at the higher levels. New York
pushed 22-year-old Jose Coronado to Triple-A, in part to make room for
Tejada in Double-A.

 Q:  Ethan from Berkshire County asks:
When
do we get to see Carlos Carrasco in the bigs and what do you expect
from him over his career? #2 starter or is that too optimistic?
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
No. 2 starter is a possibility for Carrasco, but the Phillies probably
would prefer that their rotation stay intact this year and that they
won’t have to cross that bridge in ’09. Still, you can’t rule out a big
league callup for Carrasco if he dominates in Triple-A.

Matt Eddy:
Even if Carrasco doesn’t dominate, the door may swing open if a starter
(inevitably) misses a few starts. Though he seems like he could keep
going forever, Jamie Moyer is 46. Cole Hamels never had topped 200
innings before last year, and we have to see how his arm responds.
While promising, J.A. Happ still is a rookie starter.

 Q:  Rich from Fargo, ND asks:
Speaking
of Aaron Hicks — any idea why the Twins’ have elected to keep him in
extended spring? Based on his performance last year in the GCL, it sure
seemed like he was ready for a full-season assignment. Thanks.
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
You might be right, but the Twins are more conservative with player
promotions than any team I can think of. Of course, the plan laid out
for Ben Revere involved staying in extended until short-season ball
started. And we all know how that turned out.

 Q:  Chris H from Boston asks:
Do you see improvements from SS Justin Jackson and 3B Kevin Ahrens this year?
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
Absolutely. Both players work deep counts already — leading to
abundant strikeouts and walks — and flash occasional power. But every
aspect of the duo’s offensive games was muted by the Midwest League
last season, so as crazy as it sounds, they ought to be looking forward
to the Florida State League.

Matt Eddy: As they mature,
the strikeouts should decline and the power should manifest itself
more. Both Ahrens and Jackson are rock-solid defenders, too, with
excellent arms.

Matt Eddy: A question to chatters: Which
other prospect left side of the infield tandem would you take over
Ahrens-Jackson? Only one comes to mind for me: the Mets’ Wilmer Flores
and Jefry Marte, but for both, questions exist about their future
defensive homes. But for pure offensive upside, they would top my list.

 Q:  Jimmu from Complaints Department asks:
I
really dislike the auto refresh feature on your chats. I usually come
in late and read to try and catch up, only to have to find where I left
off every 2 minutes. It’s aggravating.
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
I agree with you 100 percent. It’s on the to-do list here. But we
appreciate you sticking with us, despite our “creative” chat interface.

 Q:  Jason from Chicago asks:
What teams would you recommend taking a road trip to see in the Midwest League this season?
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
How about Burlington with Eric Hosmer? Or Great Lakes with Ethan
Martin, Nathan Eovoldi and Devaris Gordon? Or if college players are
more your speed, then check out Fort Wayne, which has Allan Dykstra,
James Darnell and Blake Tekotte.

 Q:  Jerome from Denver asks:
Jhoulys
Chacin kicks off the season for Tulsa tonight – how do you expect him
to translate to AA and when might we see him in Coors Field?
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
The Rockies toyed with the idea of jumping Chacin to Triple-A to start
the year, so he’s definitely on his radar. He’s got the perfect recipe
for success at Coors (especially with Tulowitzki as his shortstop) in
that he throws a killer two-seam fastball and changeup.

 Q:  Randy A. from NYC asks:
If Engle Beltre puts it together (big if), what is his upside and who can we compare him to?
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
We’ve bandied about some lofty comps for Beltre in our Prospect
Handbook, but if everything clicks he could be a Felix Pie type player,
with equal parts power, speed and average.

 Q:  Sheetskout from Milwaukee, WI asks:
I
keep getting into arguments with my Brewer faithfuls so let’s put this
to rest. Who is the Brewers Catcher of the Future….Angel Salome or
Jon Lucroy?
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
I know I should have learned my lesson by now, after seeing
unconventional players like Pedroia and Lincecum thrive in the big
leagues, but I still have reservations about Salmoe. And I think the
two backstops are on pretty even footing. Mix in Salome’s missing a lot
of spring training, and I might even take Lucroy.

 Q:  Andrew from New York asks:
What’s
the thinking behind letting Morrow stay in the ‘pen and moving Aumont
there, too? Morrow-Aumont-Fields. If the Nats pass on Strasburg the
Mariners have their next great closer.
 A: 

Matt Eddy:
Morrow has been quoted as saying that it’s easier to manage his
diabetes when pitching just one inning at a time. Plus, his fastball
reaches ridiculous, high-90s heights in short stints. As we saw with
his near no-hitter of the Yankees last year, Morrow’s fastball can be
so good that his secondary stuff needs to be just average.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Pedro Alvarez is the man! I just wanted to get that in for future reference. ;-)
 A: 

Matt Eddy: Good call.

Moderator: The questions keep coming so we’ll keep going. On for the fifth hour of chatting is J.J. Cooper.

 Q:  Deywane from Memphis asks:
How has Dallas Buck looked this spring and is he still a prospect?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
We got to see Buck pitch against the Reds major leaguers last Friday in
Zebulon. Admittedly, the Reds big leaguers were not looking to work
deep counts—they had a flight to catch—but Buck was very impressive
as he paired an 88-90 mph fastball with a nice slider. As you can see
on the Prospects Blog, Buck feels like he’s finally healthy for the
first time in nearly three years, and he’s able to go out and pitch
instead of babying his arm or working back from surgery. He’s
definitely still a prospect, and could end up being one of the top
starting pitchers in the Reds system with a strong year.

 Q:  Johnny from Oakland asks:
Andrew
Bailey has looked good in his first two big league appearances. Do you
think he could close in Oakland, or is he maxed out as a setup guy?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
If Brad Ziegler and George Sherrill can close, there’s nothing that
says Bailey’s stuff isn’t good enough to close. And I say that despite
the fact that we all are big Brad Ziegler fans here’s at BA. Bailey has
some of the best stuff in the A’s pen, but it all comes down to
opportunity. John Manuel here in the office has a mantra that closing
is more about makeup than stuff. I’d amend that to say for most guys
closing is more about opportunity than anything else. Yes, there are a
few guys who can’t handle the role mentally, but there are also guys
who just never get the chance. I’d say it’s unlikely that he’ll end up
a closer, but then, I would have never predicted Ziegler would be
filling the role if you asked me at this time last year.

 Q:  lindsay lohan from Cali asks:
Will Jeff Clement ever hit in the majors?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
Yes. Clement is not the first, and he won’t be the last, player to
struggle in his first significant taste of the big leagues. But for now
he’s stuck playing a waiting game. There’s not much more for him to
learn in Triple-A at the plate.

 Q:  Deywane from memphis asks:
What type of year are you expecting Juan Francisco to have?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
Since I do our Reds Top 30 Prospects list and just got back a couple of
days ago from the seeing the Reds Future Team there may be more Reds
questions than normal for the next hour. I think this is a huge test
for Francisco. He has some of the best power in the minors—his batting
practice on Friday was more impressive than any Reds big leaguer—and
he showed his game power when he took Francisco Cordero deep for 440+
feet.
But Francisco has never shown that he can consistently lay off pitches
in the dirt or over his head. He made some strides on that in winter
ball, but he’ll have to keep getting better at pitch selection or his
strikeouts will outweigh his home runs. It is a good sign for him
however that the Reds decided to move Todd Frazier to left field, that
seems to be a sign they believe that he can stay at third even if there
are concerns about how big he’ll be as he continues to mature.

 Q:  walter from plano asks:
What
are your thoughts on Joe Dickerson with AA NW Arkansas. Always a high
.290 hitter but not very recognized in the system. Still young. Compare
to Lubanski/Maier and their ability to reach the majors. Thanks!
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
Dickerson has been noticed by us for several years, but he hasn’t
ranked higher in the Royals system largely because he looks to be a
player who’s good at a lot of things but great at nothing. That’s not a
big knock—he’s a very well rounded player, but he’s stuck with a
problematic profile. He doesn’t hit well enough to be a starting corner
outfielder in the big leagues, and he doesn’t play defense well enough
to be a big league starting center fielder, especially at Kauffman. But
he does profile as a useful No. 4 outfielder down the road. That seems
to fit with the projection for Mitch Maier as well, which puts him
ahead of Chris Lubanski on the Royals’ long-term pecking order.

 Q:  Chris B from SLC, UT asks:
Why
does Japan have the posting system? Is it essentially a protectionist
policy so the majors don’t take all of the talent. Is there any
discussion about changing the system? Also, in the WBC list you don’t
mention whether Aoki has any interest in coming to the majors or when
that might be – any thoughts?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
How is a posting system protectionist? You could argue that the Japan
Leagues’ free agency system is weighted toward the teams, but the
posting system itself is just another way for players to get to the big
leagues while still giving the teams something for the player they are
losing. Nippon Professional Baseball already has concerns over the
talent drain as more players leave, so I don’t think they are looking
to make it easier for players to leave, even if it would be great from
the MLB side. As far as Aoki, he has mentioned the possibility of being
posted before, so it’s a definite possibility.

 Q:  Ken from Washington, DC asks:
Your thoughts on Dellin Betances? Where will he start the season and any chance he gets a Setpember call?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
He’s starting the year at high Class A Tampa, and I’d expect he’ll
spend the entire year there. He’s still only 21 years old and has only
170 pro innings under his belt. New York will just try to let him build
on last year’s success, but he’s still a long way from the new Yankee
Stadium, more like 2011, not September.

 Q:  Clem Knutson from Hopkins, MN asks:
What
do you think of the Twins taking Gutierrez in the first round and then
making him a starter? Doesn’t he need another pitch?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
I actually think the idea of taking a college reliever and making him a
starter has some validity if his delivery is clean and he has some
athletic ability. You know that as a college closer you’ll be getting a
pitcher with less wear and tear on his arm, and as long as the pitcher
has some feel for a breaking ball, you have a chance to teach him how
to perfect it. In Gutierrez’s case he definitely has the arm and he’s
shown some signs that he can develop the secondary stuff. If he
doesn’t, the worst scenario is he heads back to the pen where he
already projects as a potential closer.

 Q:  Brian Daniels from Kennesaw Ga asks:
Two
questions for you today, Assuming everyone stays where they begin the
Southern League, how do you see the Allstar game this year?? can you
say Loaded? second, what are Danny Payne’s chances of bouncing back and
having a good year with the Storm? And why isn’t he showing up on your
rosters? (ok, I lied 3 questions)
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
If everyone sticks around yes, it would be a loaded all-star game, but
I’ll tell you right now that some of those guys will be gone before the
all-star game. As far as Payne, he is heading to Lake Elsinore, but
Lake Elsinore hasn’t fully updated it’s rosters with our stat provider
yes, which is why he isn’t showing up there yet.

 Q:  NEC from NYC asks:
I
saw that Tyler Kolodny fell out of the top 30 for the Orioles system.
Is that a case of draftees having higher ceilings? Better performances?
Just too many players overall? How does he stand in the depth chart of
3B prospects and what type of ceiling does he have? He seems like a
player that has all the tools to be a regular, even if it’s not a star.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
The O’s system has improved which does help explain Kolodny’s fall.
He’s gotten some good news with Rowell’s move off of third base, but
he’s still got an uphill battle to ever be a big league regular.

 Q:  Scott from Raleigh, NC asks:
What’s
your take on Jeff Samardzija being sent to AAA? Are they trying to
groom him as a starter or keeping him in a setup/closer role? I thought
for sure he’d be in their rotation this year.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
The Cubs want to keep developing him as a starter, so that’s what he’ll
do in Triple-A once he gets stretched out. That being said, there are a
number of scouts outside the Cubs organization that believe Samardzija
fits best as a reliever, and that’s where he’s had his best success.
Count me among the group that sees him ending up as a big league
reliever.

 Q:  Virgil Dahl from Waterloo, Iowa 50702 asks:
Brett Lawrie, future all-star? at what position? thanks
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
The bat could make him an all-star, but it will be tougher for him to
do that now that he’s given up on catching. As a second baseman, his
bat will still be above-average for the position, but he’ll have to
show interest in being an all-around player and developing defensively
at the new position.

 Q:  Aaron from Tacoma, WA asks:
What
are the Mariners thinking in moving Phillippe Aumont to the bullpen
full time? Please tell me that someday he will be a starter again.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
My guess is that this move wouldn’t have been made without last year’s
front office changeover. The new leadership believes Aumont doesn’t fit
long-term as a starter, and since they didn’t draft him and couldn’t
therefore be blamed for drafting relievers in the first-round of three
straight drafts, they made the move. I think he’ll be a reliever as
long as he’s an M. Many prospects slide from being a starter to the
bullpen, very few make the trip the other way.

 Q:  Casey from Tupelo, MS asks:
Do you see Chris Coughlan being an everyday second baseban for Florida? What do you think the ceiling is for him?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
Yes, I think eventually he’ll step in as a starter, although his
ceiling is as more of a solid bat-decent glove guy rather than a star.

 Q:  Frank from Houston asks:
What
are your thoughts on Engel Beltre? I know the rangers system is deep,
but everyone seemes to have forgoten about Engel. He had a decent year
and is supposed to be a top tier prospect, no?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
I don’t think anyone’s forgetting him—he was the No. 7 prospect in an
absolutely loaded Rangers system. Considering his age, the sky is the
limit if he keeps developing.

 Q:  HoustonTeams4Me from Houston Tx asks:
If
Michael Taylor comes into Double-A & continues to show the type of
production he has shown thus far, will he ever be able to grace BA’s
Hot List (considering that he produces good enough to qualify for a
spot, or will his age forever be the reason he will only be included at
the bottom of the Hot List in the honorable mention section)? Please
remember he was really not too old when he produced in Hi-A
(considering his B-day falls in December).
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
You’re chatting with a Taylor believer. Absolutely he can show up on
the Hot Sheet this year, the same way he showed up in the FSL top 10
prospects list at the end of last season. Taylor was too old for the
Sally League last year, but a 23-year-old in Double-A is completely age
appropriate.

 Q:  Ryan from NM asks:
What
are your thoughts on Brandon Waring? How do you think he’ll do with the
jump from RC ball to Advanced-A? Also, with Rowell moving to OF, does
he have a shot at being the O’s guy at 3rd?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
Waring isn’t jumping from rookie ball to high Class A, as he got a
nearly full season in the Midwest League last year. The trade to the
Orioles helps him out as the Os are not as deep at third base as the
Reds were. He needs to prove he can stick at third base as he is pretty
big for the position.

 Q:  Caylyn from Toronto asks:
Can you rank the following in terms of most likely to be future stars in the Majors?

Carlos Santana, Lars Anderson, Jesus Montero, Bryce Harper, Grant Green, Yonder Alonso, and Brett Wallace?

Thanks – love the chats!

 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
I can’t include a high school sophomore in this list just because he’s
so far away no matter how good he is. Just a personal opinion: Santana,
Anderson, Alonso, Wallace, Montero, Green but all those guys are good.

 Q:  Matt from Huntsville asks:
As
Brewer fans, we’ve gotten used to seeing Gamel and Escobar on the tops
of our lists, but the next batch seems more exciting. 2 capable
catchers, a centerfielder of the future, and a top flight pitcher who’s
questions should be answered this year. Who do you see topping the list
taking out Gamel/Escobar?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
I’d predict it will be Jeffress followed by Lawrie next year. If you’re
looking for someone to climb up from out of the top 10, take a look at
Zach Braddock. He’s been dominant when healthy, but has rarely been
healthy. If he can log consistent innings this year, I’d expect to see
him in next year’s top 10.

Moderator: Oops, bonked on those two questions. Personally I
think Darvish is a better prospect than Price. He’s performed more
consistently at a higher level (Japan leagues vs. minor leagues) and
his stuff is just as good, although Price is a lefty which gives him an
advantage. You’re not going to go wrong either way, but Darvish’s
better command and secondary stuff tilt the pick in his direction for
me.

 Q:  Bob Staley from Chicago,Il. asks:
I did not see Andrew Cashner on any Cubs roster. Is he hurt? Thanks.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
Check out the roster analysis on the Prospects Blog. In it it mentions
that Cashner has a strained oblique and should be in Daytona in a
couple of weeks.

 Q:  Chris B from SLC, UT asks:
Great
point JJ about the posting system. I didn’t mean to infer that the
posting system was protectionist but meant to ask about the entire
Japanese league. It seems players can’t leave to the majors unless they
are posted or hit their free agency mark.
For example, could a high school aged player decide to leave Japan for
the majors or does he have to play in the Nippon leagues first?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper:
He could, but the Japan Leagues have worked on a rule that ensures he’d
have to sit out for a length of time before coming back to play in the
NPB.

Moderator: Sorry but it’s time to shut down the chat. But
that doesn’t mean we’re done with Opening Day. Check out our live blogs
from Greensboro and Durham tonight, and we’ll have the BAPR plus the
first Daily Dish of the season tomorrow morning. Thanks for all the
questions and I hope most every can get to a game tonight.

Minors | #2009 #Chat

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