Matt Eddy: Thanks for stopping by. I’m leading off today, followed by J.J. Cooper and then possibly John Manuel and/or Josh Norris.
@Jaypers413 (IL): Hey, BA staffers. Thanks for the chat. Could you tell us about Aaron Sanchez's omission from both this list and the "just missed" list?
Matt Eddy: The Blue Jays righty has a live arm and big league fastball, but right now his control is obviously below-average (5.4 BB/9 this season) and so is his command, judging from how far his catcher must reach from his setup to snag Sanchez’s pitches.
Kyle Schwarber (Kane County): Will I be the catching prospect the Cubs are missing? And who would be a good major league comp for me when I reach my ceiling?
Matt Eddy: I will bet “no” at the moment, based solely on your fast-track potential as a corner outfielder. Plus, the Cubs will want to keep you on schedule with their other stud position prospects, such as Bryant, Russell and Baez.
JKK (NY, NY): Does Luis Severino have the all around game to be a #2 Starter? Can the lefty that Yanks pick on 2013 first round become a #3 Starter or back of rotation filler? Does Tyler Hensley have prospect potential?
Matt Eddy: Best to be conservative when projecting pitching prospects in Class A, though I agree Severino and Ian Clarkin have realistic big league potential as, respectively, a mid-rotation arm and a No. 4 type. As to Hensley, well, yes he has prospect potential if his health issues are behind him, but at this point he’s got nine pro appearances in the GCL in three seasons.
Brian (Denver): Predictions on which college pitcher from the '14 draft will have the best career? All seem to have question marks in one area or another.
Matt Eddy: That’s a good way to phrase it. I get the impression that Angels LHP Sean Newcomb might have the most VALUE potential because he fell to 15th, but the most effective might be Rodon (White Sox) or Freeland (Rockies) or one of the righties.
Brian (Denver): How does the Cubs infield shake out? Seems sort of a waste to put Alcantara in the OF doesn't it?
Matt Eddy: On the bright side, Arismendy Alcantara will be less expensive than Bonifacio or Ruggiano (or some other acquisition) through 2017, and he’ll probably be a more well-rounded hitter. Seems like a fair compromise given the organization’s surfeit of infield talent.
Jason L. (Walnut Creek, CA): Any chance Stockton's duo of doom Matt Olson and Renato Nunez sneak into the back end of the Top 100 at season's end?
Matt Eddy: Olson has interesting power potential, but I would take a cautious approach with a first base-only player who hasn’t proven himself above high Class A. He’s a career .240 hitter, as well, and while batting average isn’t everything, over a large enough sample it does give us hints about a player’s contact ability and line-drive rate.
Justin Nicolino (Jacksonville): I am wondering....with an 8--2 record, where do you see me ending the season?
Matt Eddy: In Triple-A or perhaps a September callup to Miami. Gotta go on the 40-man in November, regardless. At this point, though, the Marlins have demonstrated that Heaney, DeSclafani and Flynn are higher on the depth chart.
Neal frantz (Fremont indiana): Was Steven piscotty the only cardinal close to the top 50? Thoughts on Randall grichuck .
Matt Eddy: Grichuk is more talented than we’ve given him credit for in the past, but big league evaluators have serious doubts about him as a regular based on continued struggles versus righthanders. Even if he doesn’t improve in same-side matchups, he still has a career path as a platoon bat who can defend and run a bit. It’s just that teams have a lot of options when it comes to filling that roster spot, so Grichuk will have to stand head and shoulder above the field.
joey (nj): Where would you see Dom Smith fitting in the top 100? How about Steve Matz and Dilson Herrera? Who was the closest to making your list?
Matt Eddy: Matz might pass Smith if he continues to pitch well at Double-A. He has a big league fastball and changeup. The keys to success are remaining healthy, throwing strikes and improving the power on his curveball. All signs are positive to this point in 2014.
AstrosFan (Houston): Our team is buried in last place in baseball's strongest division. Why hasn't the team called up Trop (Nick Tropeano) or Folty? Mike Foltyniwicez?
Matt Eddy: Tropeano appears to be nearly ready for an audition in Houston, and perhaps the injury to rookie standout Colin McHugh will provide that opportunity. But otherwise, Astros starters have a 4.00 ERA to rank 19th in baseball. That’s very good compared with expectations.
Corey (St. Louis, MO): Kris Bryant is a career .349 minor league hitter. I understand he strikes out a decent amount, but will he hit .300 in the majors?
Matt Eddy: I’m inclined to say no, though he probably will hit .300 in at least one season just owing to random variance. Of the 14 hitters to hit .300 since 2010 (min. 1,000 PA), the highest strikeout rates belong to Carlos Gonzalez (21.5%) and Trout (21.2%), and Bryant would have to improve dramatically to dip that low.
John (Chicago): That's serious helium for Kevin Plawecki. What's a realistic projection for him?
Matt Eddy: A regular catcher who won’t have to bat eighth in the Mets’ order! Just glancing at regular catchers from the past five years, Plawecki might have a batting average-fueled ceiling along the lines of Salvador Perez or Carlos Ruiz, though he probably won’t be as strong defensively.
Clayt (Glenwood, IL): If you were the Astros, would you have traded Springer and Correa for Stanton?
Matt Eddy: No. The Astros’ duo will provide more overall production and at significantly less cost. Plus, their development lines up more with the Astros’ development arc of having players ready for a serious run in 2015 or ’16.
Angela (Key West): Why on Earth would Jose Abreu pass up a deal with Colorado where he could've launched homerun after homerun?
Matt Eddy: The White Sox play in a favorable park for RH power as well, they offered more money, and their track record for developing pitchers suggests their odds of contention in the coming years are higher.
Justin (Philadelphia): why does Rosell Herrera NOT go just lefty? he had 16 hrs from the left side and 0 from the right side.
Matt Eddy: That day may come because his reputation as a weak RH hitter dates back to his time in the Pioneer League. Having a strong LH swing is no indictment, however, it’s just that not batting RH opens him up to vulnerability versus lefthanded pitchers, who enjoy the largest platoon-split advantage matchups (LoL) in the game.
Dusty Wilson (Bloomington, IL): Should Cubs fans be very concerned with the extended (mid-April?) time off that CJ Edwards is receiving for "shoulder fatigue"?
Matt Eddy: IMO, yes. Shoulder injuries are scary, and he had other questions to answer about his long-term viability in the rotation anyway. Edwards has an obvious big league fastball even if he switches to relief.
John (Atlanta): With the way Jose Peraza continues to hit, could he the Braves 2b by this time next year?
Matt Eddy: Absolutely, it’s possible. The Braves aren’t shy about promoting their prospects when they feel they’re ready for the big leagues.
Brian (South Bend): Does this season count as a "breakout season" for Manuel Margot, or is his value still similar to what it was at the start of the season?
Matt Eddy: Similar value for me, but I was high on him coming into the year. Very encouraging year for such a young player in full-season ball. Plus, he carries the Bill James seal of approval. He made a point to evoke Margot’s name at the 2013 Analytics Conference.
AJ (Brooklyn): Was I dumb for grabbing guys like Buxton, Tavares and Correa when Polanco seems like he might be the better player, or at least better fantasy player, in the bigs? Seeing what he's done so far is it possible HE is the best major leaguer of that bunch of elite prospects and not the guys who were always ranked ahead?
Matt Eddy: Polanco does look very good, but enough evaluators had enough questions about him in the preseason to indicate that prospecting is far from a precise science. I feel optimistic that Buxton will be an elite fantasy player, and Correa has a chance to be a top-10 hitter in the game, though he won’t be five-category killer like Buxton or Correa.
Chris (Chicago): As a Cubs fan I am intrigued with their decision to stock pile athletic power hitting position players. In Chicago we have heard repeatedly how many great baseball players were at some time in their development a shortstop. Young pitching is at a premium - but I was curious if in fact pitching has a smaller window than other positions. Can you help identify a pitcher who has been elite for more than 4-5 years? It appears to me that after this window pitchers breakdown.
Matt Eddy: Have you heard the expression, “All pitchers get hurt—eventually.”? It’s been true for a long time that the rigors of pitching in the majors can accelerate one’s injury timetable. I think it’s more true today when pitchers must put 100% into every pitch, and velocity and sharp breaking pitchers are clearly the attributes that big league teams value above all. So with regard to the Cubs, I think their approach is smar. Position players face lower injury probabilities and generally have longer peaks.
Matt Eddy: Thanks for the great questions. Josh Norris is coming up next.
Roger (Greenville, SC): Do you foresee any 1st round picks not signing by the deadline?
Josh Norris: Hey Roger, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that they all sign.
Alfredo (Florida): Is Domingo German a potential 1 or 2 or more of a back-end rotation starter?
Josh Norris: Hey Alfredo, I’d say he’s more of a back-end guy right now a reliever going forth. He’s got good stuff for sure, but it’s definitely not stuff that makes you think top of a rotation.
Mike (Catawba, NC): Hunter Harvey has slowed down lately? Do you see him as a top starter or closer later on? Also why is he still in low-A?
Josh Norris: I like Hunter Harvey. When I saw him, I thought he was pretty good and had a bright future, but I wasn’t drooling over him. I wasn’t a big fan of the changeup and the curveball consistency could have been a bit better.
Mike (atlanta): No Jose Peraza on your list, guys? Or any Braves, for that matter?
Josh Norris: I’m a big Jose Peraza fan, for sure. He was high on my No. 51-75 list that will appear in the e-book. Speed, defense, hit tool, baserunning acumen. That’s what you look for in a second baseman.
tyler (san diego): Why is Ryan McMahon's profile more appealing than Trey Michalczewski's?
Josh Norris: Because he’s a more athletic guy who can play third base. That’s our view, at least.
Javier Baez (Almost Chicago): Do I have to switch to 3B to make room for Russell? Will Starlin head to CF? Or will one of us get traded?
Josh Norris: Shouldn’t you be getting ready for your game, Mr. Baez? Man, Manny Ramirez just has not instilled work ethic in you yet, has he? Seriously, though, I think you’ll probably move, which means Bryant will move. It’ll be a struggle getting all those guys on one field, but it’ll be a Beautiful Struggle for sure.
David Price (Tampa): I took a look at your Top 50 prospects list and it doesn't seem that any of the teams with players in the Top 10-15 will be interested in trading for me. So am I staying in Tampa until the Winter Meetings or will a team put together a package of multiple good prospects and no great prospects for me?
Josh Norris: C’mon now, David, shouldn’t you be feeding Astro or reveling in Vanderbilt’s CWS win? JJ Cooper, John Manuel and I just discussed this on the podcast that’ll be hitting your … pods … soon. The Dodgers are a team that might be able to put that kind of package together. If they offered Julio Urias, Corey Seager and Joc Pederson, the Rays might find a David Price-shaped box to ship you with. Hope Astro likes Hollywood.
Dan (Ohio): Michael A Taylor is having a breakout season for the Nationals. Will he be a top 100 prospect next year? Do you think his game will play in the majors?
Josh Norris: He’s got an extremely high (.440) BABIP right about now, but yes, I think his offense and defense will play in the majors for sure.
Jake K. (Eau Claire, WI): With the tremendous accumulation of top end talent that the Cubs have stocked and added to through trades, they appear to have the best farm system in baseball. How often do you see something like this and what do you think the Cubs will look like a year or two down the line?
Josh Norris: The Cubs’ collection of bats is galling for sure. It’s incredibly rare, and, if even half of their guys end up clicking in the big leagues, they have a very bright future for sure.
Nick (New Jersey): On Braden Shipley: 22 and while it's okay he hasn't jumped to AA ball yet he seems to be struggling in a couple of his starts. But every publication seems to love the repertoire and ranks him so. Where's the possible disconnect right now and can you comment on any long-term outlook?
Josh Norris: First, he’s in the Cal League, which of course is a nightmarish hellscape for pitchers. Second, his numbers so far look pretty darn good in the Cal League, where he’s whiffing 10.6 per nine, walking a few more hitters than in low-A, but overall I wouldn’t worry about him.
Shawn (Batavia, IL): Were any of the 2014 draftees close to making the list?
Josh Norris: No. None of them were eligible for the list. They weren’t eligible for the team top 10s in the upcoming e-book, either.
Nate (Chicago): Who were some of the guys who were close to the top 50? Was Tim Anderson considered?
Josh Norris: He was very high in my personal top 50, and here are some other guys were close: http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/prospects-watch-beyond-top-50/
Bart (Boston): Is Swihart the top catching prospect? How highly regarded is C. Vasquez?
Josh Norris: We think Swihart is the top catching prospect simply because he’s shown he can hit in Double-A, unlike Hedges thus far, and he’s also an excellent, athletic defender.
mike (ontario): Norris was pulled in the first inning yesterday after 33 pitches. Jays have policy to pull young pitchers after > 30 pitches in one inning. Do any other teams have this policy? is it a good or bad thing??
Josh Norris: It’s neither good nor bad, I think, but it does spare them prolonged embarrassment if they were to completely lose it in a start and give up double-digit runs. The Pirates have a similar policy as well.
Jacob Taylor (Dallas): Does Joey Gallo's absurd (even for him) K rate at AA raise concern as long as he continues to hit for power?
Josh Norris: Joey Gallo is going to strike out. That’s going to happen to him and a great many powerful hitters. I’m not worried about him much, just because he’s still 20, in Double-A and OPSing 1.080.
Mitch (Seattle): How close was Hunter Harvey to making the list?
Josh Norris: Well, he was No. 31 on our list, so pretty close.
Derek (Milwaukee): Let's address the elephant in the room. Joey Gallo rocketed all the way up to #4. What's the ceiling for Gallo? Stanton, 2013 Chris Davis, or is some other comp more appropriate?
Josh Norris: He’s certainly a massive man, but elephant seems a little harsh. Chris Davis is the comp I’ve heard most often for him.
TT (Cape Cod): I would like to see a prospect list by position. For example, who are the top 5 shortstop prospects, etc. What are the chances of BA doing that?
Josh Norris: We already do that. It comes out in the offseason during book season.
Teddy (Connecticut): Blake Swihart certainly jumped up the prospect rankings. What has he done this year so far that has inclined you to rank him so highly?
Josh Norris: He’s hit very well from both sides of the plate and played excellent defense.
Ben (Leland Grove): I was surprised to see Gallo ranked as high as he was. Granted, his plate discipline has improved, but do you really see him flourishing at higher levels? Maybe I'm just gunshy at these "80-power" guys, seeing how many have subsequently sputtered out. And finally, what do you make of him playing first base?
J.J. Cooper: He does strike out and yes, he’s riskier than some of the other guys in the top 10, but he has a commodity that is harder and harder to find. When you hear about 80 power guys, few really fit with Gallo. He’s shown an ability to make adjustments. He’s showing he can draw walks. And he hits home runs at a rate that we simply don’t see from anyone else. Seriously. No one in the minors in the past decade has shown Gallo’s productive power over a two/three-year span.
JMain (Chicago): Thanks for the chat! I'd like to hear your thoughts on Rio Ruiz's season at Lancaster and how those tools translate to MLB? Is he looking more like a potential top tier 3B in the show or is the Cal League inflating his offense? I read that his defense is looking better than expected.
J.J. Cooper: His defense has improved, but it’s still a question over whether he’ll stick there long-term. It’s been a very solid season for him this year, nothing out of line with what he did last year in low A. He’s a solid prospect with a chance to be a big league regular, but he falls on that line of projecting as a front-line regular or a role player.
Angie (Houston): With Bryant and Gray both doing pretty well, do the Astros regret passing them up for Appel?
J.J. Cooper: Have to ask them that, but at this point it’s very hard to see Mark Appel ending up as a better pick than Kris Bryant. Could happen, but highly, highly unlikely. I don’t like that it ends up like I’m always banging on Appel’s prospects, but I added another guy who has seen Appel as a pro which makes it six pro scouts who have seen him. Best report I’ve gotten from any of them is that he’s a backend of the rotation starter–maybe a good innings eating No. 4 starter. I’ve asked some friends in the industry to get back to me if they talk to one of their friends who scouts who has him in better than that. So far, I haven’t found one. Do those reports not really match up with the pre-draft reports? Definitely not. But he’s over a year into his pro career. At this point, there’s a lot of experienced pro scouts who have seen him and think there’s a lot of reasons to be concerned. The best hope is that what we’ve seen from Appel so far is not an indication of what his stuff and command will be long-term.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): How concerned should I be over Robert Stephenson's regression in control this year in AA? Growing pains from moving up a level or something more worrisome?
J.J. Cooper: Concerned, but its not a big concern. The stuff is similar to what it’s been in the past, but his approach that dominated in low A–fastball to get ahead, bball out of the zone that hitters chase for the strikeout, hasn’t been as effective in Double-A.
Clayton (Chicago): Will the Astros sign Aiken? If not, would they receive the #2 pick in the 2015 Draft as compensation?
J.J. Cooper: Sorry this took a while to answer, but I had some math to work out. You have to think that it will get worked out. If it doesn’t, yes they would get the second pick in next year’s draft as compensation, but there’s a pretty hefty caveat–they would lose two first round picks and get one back. MLB.com has reported that the Astros have reached a deal with fifth-round pick Jacob Nix for $1.5 million. At Baseball America, we have not reported the signing because as we understand it, it is not fully completed. But if it is officially signed at some point, that would be for more than $1.1 million above that assigned slot. The rest of the Astros’ top 10 round picks have already signed. Together, they have been inked for $179,100 under the slot allotments. If the Astros don’t sign Aiken, they lose his $7.9 million slot allotment, which would reduce their total allowed spending to $5,400,100. If they sign Nix at the agreed-upon price, they would end up just under $1 million over their signing allotment ($6,390,500). Since that would put them 17 percent above their allotment, it would incur the maximum penalty–loss of two first-round picks in addition to a financial penalty. So in other words, unless the Astros also tore up Nix’s deal (highly unlikely), they would lose two first round picks for not signing Aiken. In other words, the Astros have all kinds of incentives to sign Aiken.
Brett (Lincroft, NJ): Does Raimel Tapia (who missed the top 50) have superstar ceiling?
J.J. Cooper: No. Above-average regular ceiling I can see. I don’t see superstar. Very good hit tool, which is very valuable.
Brian (Ohio): Its obviously a small sample, but Rafael Devers has started his stateside career by going 9-14 with 5 XBH. If he continues to dominate, does he have a chance to crack the top 100? Is he one of the GCL's best prospects?
J.J. Cooper: Yes. He could crack the Top 100, although that would be aggressive. But he’s a high ceiling talent who was one of the top international prospects on the market, and he’s performing at a high level as a pro. That’s a great combo and one that runs you up prospect lists.
Duane Cravy (Northern California): Why isn't Jimmy Nelson ranked higher? His numbers, both in the Minors and Majors support a much higher ranking. I need an explanation regarding his ranking.
J.J. Cooper: Scouts we talk to see a solid middle of rotation or backend starter, not a front-line ace. Some actually thought we overranked him putting him where we did. We believe he’s taken some steps forward this year and ranked him accordingly. But no, his great numbers this year don’t change him into a frontline ace projection. By that logic, Mike Fiers should be also ready to jump to the front of the Brewers’ rotation, because he’s put up similar numbers on the same club as Nelson.
Patrick (Austin, TX): If both Plawecki and D'Arnaud play well enough to warrant being on the major league ballclub full time, who would be more likely to be moved to a different position?
J.J. Cooper: Plawecki has been the one who has been suggested for a position move in the past. But both have value in part because they are catchers. Would seem to make sense to trade one of them to a team in need of catching and get something else. Actually more ideally, have both of them on the big league roster. In 8 pro seasons, d’Arnaud has played 100+ games twice. So having two viable catchers with him on the roster makes sense.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Was Michael Lorenzen in consideration for the top 50? He had been phenomenal in AA in his first year as a starter.
J.J. Cooper: Definitely considered. Gets lots of ground balls and has better feel than one would expect for a converted two-way player who was only a reliever in college. The Reds’ penchant for drafting college relievers and starting them gets another win.
nb (philly): Thanks for the chat! I know that some Cubs prospects Soler (injuries) and Almora (new level) had rough first halves, but I was still surprised that they missed out on the Top 50. How close were they? I was also surprised that Ramiel Tapia missed. How close was he? Thanks!
J.J. Cooper: Soler’s injuries and his decreased flexibility were a concern. Didn’t miss the 50 by much. Same with Almora who also didn’t miss by much. But Almora’s game has always been one where the sum of his skills makes up for solid but unspectacular tools. In other words, you expect performance. This year, he hasn’t shown that, and he’s had some timing issues with his leg kick. Also he needs to improve his approach at the plate, as he too often looks fastball and gets surprised by offspeed stuff. As far as Tapia, he’s a very solid prospect, but he’s a likely corner outfielder who’s hit tool is better than his power. There may be more power in there, but for now, he looks like a high average/solid OBP/solid but unspectacular slugging percentage corner outfielder. That adds up to a very good prospect, but for a guy in low A, it’s not yet a top 50 guy.
Mick (Chicago): I'm really disappointed w/ the "World" roster. This year's version should be named "Latin America." I thought MLB was on the way of the NBA w/ many countries represented by now. But there was more diverse representation going back to 2008, for example. Is this cyclical or will this be a more normal trend?
J.J. Cooper: A lot of the Asian countries best players jump straight to the big leagues, so they won’t be represented in a Futures Game (Japanese players almost all jump to the U.S. as veterans and Korea and Taiwan also discourage players being signed as teenagers to U.S. contracts in many cases). As far as Europe, Australia and South America, the game could get a lot more countries involved, but only be significantly lessening the quality of prospects who play in the game. Do you want the best Italian or German player to get into the game even if it means bumping out a vastly superior Dominican or Venezuelan player?
John (Chicago): Does your ranking reflect confidence that Brandon Nimmo will be able to hit advanced left-handed pitching (something many have expressed concern about in the past)?
J.J. Cooper: Not necessarily. You can be a successful big leaguer with solid numbers even with struggles against lefties–ask Ryan Howard. Nimmo has shown some improvement this year. You can’t be a big league regular who struggles against righties, but lefties–it limits your ceiling but doesn’t rule you out.
Scott (Stamford, CT): With Josh Bell making an appearance at 35 on the list is it safe to say the guy who everyone thought had a chance to be the best hitter in that great 2011draft might be back? Is 1B a likely position for him in PIT or do you see him being moved? No chance he gets into that Outfield. Lastly, if he continues to progress, is it possible he could be a top 20 prospect in the next BA100? if he went to a team that needs him a bit more, like say...TB, would that raise his value drastically? (Sorry for the million ?s but love JB and he's finally relevant!) THANKS!
J.J. Cooper: I don’t think he’ll climb into the top 20…harder to move up than back from this point to the end of the year, as we’ll add in the 2014 draftees to this current list.
John (Chicago): I was very surprised to read JJ's comment that Steven Matz didn't miss this list by much. BA rated him as the 28th best lefty (!) coming into the season. That's a huge change.
J.J. Cooper: Staying healthy. I’m maybe the high man in the office on him, but I think he could be a solid big league starter and if not, he should be a quality reliever.
Krešimir (Zagreb, Croatia, Europe): Why didn't you put ETA in Midseason Top 50 ranking?
J.J. Cooper: We never do…That’s for the preseason Top 100.
Gerry (Syracuse, NY): Urias was 13th overall on this list. It's clear you guys love him. I love him. People keep telling me though that his rankings are due to his age, not necessarily his upside. What IS his upside? If he was 20, would he be much lower? How much of his ranking is due to his age and how much is due to his nastiness? Do I have a future ace on my hands?
J.J. Cooper: Listen to today’s BA Podcast for more on this. He actually doesn’t get a whole lot of extra credit for being 17 because for pitchers, that’s not nearly as valuable as it is for hitters. If you just project refinement to control, pitch selection, etc, but nothing as far as improved stuff, he’s one of the better pitching prospects in baseball.
Bednarz42 (Jersey): What did scouts see in cj Edwards before the injury that would cause him to drop outside of the top 50.
J.J. Cooper: The question with Edwards was could someone with his frame keep up the stuff he showed. This year he hasn’t. He hasn’t been durable, which feeds those concerns. So that knocks him down the list.
John (Chicago): Entering the season, BA ranked Nimmo as a corner outfielder. Is this ranking based on the expectation that he'll stick in center?
J.J. Cooper: Still would say it’s more likely he ends up in a corner, but he’s got some power potential and his on-base skills are excellent, which is something that not many guys have at a young age.
Dogu (NC): So what is Refsynder? Future solid big leaguer....more than that....less than that?
J.J. Cooper: Likely less to me. Good hitting role player. Where is he going to play? If the reports on him at second base were good, I’d think he’s a long-term regular, but they aren’t. If he ends up back in a corner outfield spot, he doesn’t profile. Looking in New York, would they really go forward with an outfield of Gardner, Ellsbury and Refsnyder and watch them combine for 35 total home runs? Seems doubtful.
Aaron (Charlotte, NC): Why not bring Kris Bryant up from AAA? He certainly can't do any worse than Mike Olt, and it gives us Cubs fans something to look forward to next season.
J.J. Cooper: Answer is why start his clock now for a season that is already over? Bringing him up now means you may lose him or have to pay him a whole lot more in 2020 when the Cubs hope to be very good.
Brian (Salisbury, MD): What the F is the deal with Aaron Sanchez? Is he officially in prospect purgatory? He was a trendy guy last year and made his way into most top 30s and now he's dropping off lists. Is he even TOR's most exciting SP prospect anymore? What GIVES!?
J.J. Cooper: He has to refine his command. Watch a Sanchez game this year and you see a catcher working hard. Sanchez doesn’t miss the target by a few inches, he’s forcing catchers to come out of their crouch to catch pitches that miss by a foot or more.
Tim (Chicago): How does Ben Lively project, will he make the cut for top 100?
J.J. Cooper: Don’t see it. He’s a potential No. 5 starter with average at-best stuff but very good feel for how to set up hitters, hit his spots and get by with deception. That’s not normally a Top 100 guy.
houston (we have a problem): tough to watch Domingo Santana get brutalized in the majors (84% Ks). Do you think he or Teoscar Hernandez ends up contributing more to the Astros?
J.J. Cooper: Santana isn’t really ready yet, something the Astros kind of admitted a week or two before calling him up when they talked about not bringing him up for a while. He’s made strides and still has some work to do. Santana has a higher ceiling and fits the profile of a corner outfielder better. Hernandez has a more rounded set of skills, so maybe you could say he has a higher floor.
jim (chicago): Teoscar Hernandez v Manuel Margot--who has the brighter future?
J.J. Cooper: Margot. He’s a pretty sure-fire center fielder and really the rest of his tools are just as loud as Hernandez’s.
Jackson (Old Lyme): Is there still a chance Rafael DePaula ends up an effective starting pitcher?
J.J. Cooper: I’d be hoping he turns into a dominating reliever instead, effective starting pitcher may be a stretch.
Chris (Joliet): Seems to me like a mistake to drop Almora out of the top 50. First time the guy has ever struggled but has now turned the corner. Why such a drop in the rankings after 3 bad months?
J.J. Cooper: What corner has he turned? He posted a sub.-600 OPS in June. He’s had a great start to July and is a Hot Sheet candidate this week, but you’re being a little optimistic to say that he’s put the struggles behind him. Again, we really like him as a prospect. If this list went 75 deep, he’d be on it. But Almora’s tools are solid, not spectacular, so he’s always going to have to hit.
Ben (Leland Grove): What's this "e-book" you speak of, when does it come out, and is it free for subscribers?
J.J. Cooper: It’s our first Baseball America Midseason Prospect Update. We updated our Top 10 rankings for all 30 teams, then also singled out some rising and falling prospects for each team, added 25 more prospects to our Top 50 (four staffer’s 51-75 rankings) and brought back the 2017 Lineups because people seem to love them. It’s not free for subscribers, but not expensive for anyone. It will be $4.99 and available through the Apple Store (for iPads and iPhones) and Zinio (for pretty much any phone/tablet/computer).
ED (Charlotte): Is Marcos Molina someone Mets fans should get excited about?
J.J. Cooper: Yes.
Casey (Fort Worth): Is Mark Appel still a top 50 prospect?
J.J. Cooper: We just ranked a top 50 and he wasn’t in it, so no.
J.J. Cooper: Sorry. There are several hundred questions left in the queue, but after three hours we have to shut this down. Thanks for the interest and we’ll have a lot more about the midseason update coming soon.