Moderator: John Manuel will stop by at 3 p.m. ET to answer
questions about our selection of Alex Gordon as the 2006 Minor League
Player of the Year.
wit from florida asks: was philip hughes a strong candidate for the award z
Hey everyone, welcome to another BA chat, this one Guided By Voices.
We'll go everywhere with helicoptors to explain our choice of Alex
Gordon and talk prospects with you for a while. We're having some
server issues, so bear with me if this chat moves a little slower than
we'd all like.
John Manuel: Predictable first question . .
. of course Hughes was considered. Have we not written enough about
this guy? I know we've done a Q&A, two notes, Prospect Hot Sheet
No. 1 marks and a story after the Futures Game on him, so I think we
know how good he is. Frankly, four pitchers were in the hunt–Hughes,
Homer Bailey, Yovani Gallardo and Matt Garza. For me, those were the
four best seasons by minor league pitchers. They were pretty comparable
to each other, while Gordon stood out more from most of the other
batters. That was how I made my decision, and I think that argument
rang true for other members of the staff.
Joshua from Springfield, NJ asks: Who would win Minor League Pitcher of the Year?
Moderator: Sigh . . . chat server problems. I would pick Garza slightly over Hughes.
Paul from Williamstown, MA asks: Does
winning your Minor League POY mean that Gordon will be the top prospect
as well, or does that go to a guy like Upton, Young, or Wood?
Not really; he's certainly in the mix. Top prospect in the game is
going to be a very tough call. If I had to pick one right now, I'd pick
Gordon, by a hair over Delmon Young, whose defense in RF and whose
makeup are problematic. Cameron Maybin also would be in this
discussion, as would guys like Jay Bruce and Andrew McCutchen.
Mick from Chicago asks: I'll
ask the same question everyone else will. Now that Mark Teahan looks or
at least has lent us to believe, he is better than an average 3rd
baseman, please don't tell me the Royals will do the same as the Mets
did a couple seasons ago with Reyes at second instead of SS. Putting
Gordon in the outfield is driving that same Ferrari 20 mph. The White
Sox are doing the same to Josh Fields.
When the Royals drafted Gordon, they mentioned his athletic ability was
such he could move to an outfield corner, and if his doing so makes the
big league club better, then why would any Royals fan not want that? If
he's a better LF or RF than, say, Shane Costa, wouldn't you want him in
the lineup? I would. I've never been on Joey Gathright, he can't hit,
and I'd rather have Gordon in LF or RF next year than Gathright. Teahen
was the Royals' best player for a long stretch of the season, he really
got it together and showed impressive aptitude for a player his age, to
go back to Triple-A, work on his swing and figure it out. The Royals
have a good problem–two good 3Bs. Eventually, I believe one of them
will move to 1B or LF, but having a 3-4-5 with some combination of
Gordon-Butler-Teahen looks good for the next 3-5 years.
jordon from texas asks: did you guy considered outfield prospect for the oakland A's
Not really; the half-season, 2006 player who might have been in
position to win this was Evan Longoria, who reached Double-A in a
heartbeat and hit 18 homers, but his little injury and then late slump
kind of hurt his chances. Sulentic had a great debut, but Longoria's
Matt from Oklahoma City asks: Thanks
for the chat, always great. Was Josh Fields given any consideration?
His .894 OPS with 28 steals and only 5 CS, combined with his improved
defense made for quite a season. Also, what do you think the White Sox
are going to do with him in the future with Crede entrenched?
He wasn't really considered, but I like Fields; that's a big year for
how quickly he's been pushed. But Crede has become one of the majors'
best 3Bs, he's a stout defender and fits in well there. It's hard to
imagine them making room for Fields at third, and I think they are
going to try him in an OF corner.
Gil from Charleston, SC asks: Steven
Jackson (Diamondbacks) had a great season at Double-A Tennesse, is the
big club pretty high on him and if so when you see him making it to the
bigs? Love the chats
I like Stephen Jackson as a sinker-slider guy; he was a guy they loved
at Clemson, but he just had such a straight, hard 4-seam fastball, he
was susceptible against metal bats. He was very steady this year, nice
job of developing his sinker by the D-backs, and I think he can be a
very effective middle reliever with his ability to get groundballs. I
might be selling him short but I see him more in that role than as a
Matthew from Columbus asks: Where
does Yovani Gallardo grade out respective to Hughes and Bailey? He
dominated hitters all season, and showed both high k9 rates and above
average control (1.000 whip) and his numbers were certainly comparable
to the two more highly toutes prospects.
Gallardo's year was ridiculous; I mean, I liked the guy coming in, I
did our Brewers top 30 last year and like him a lot. But I was stunned
at how good he was this year. I believe the difference, from the people
I've talked to, is that (a) Hughes and Bailey have more velocity on
their FBs and better pitcher's frames, and (b) they work off their
fastball more often. Call me a sucker but I believe in Mark Rogers, and
if the Brewers would let him long toss and do his tubing (come on, Jim
Rooney!), I think Rogers can be the monster that he has shown glimpses
Jake Larsen from St Petersburg(via IL), FL asks: With
all the hoopla going around about Delmon Young, 4 Rays players(3
positional) made big impressions on minor league baseball. Whatever has
been said about Longoria has probably been said, but Reid Brignac and
Sergio Pedroza put up exceptional seasons. Reid, unexpected to Rays
fans, improved every offensive statistic and even got a promotion to
Double A, which he maintained his decent hitting as well. Sergio
Pedroza, known to many as the add-on to the Julio Lugo trade, finished
the season with solid offensive numbers(28 HRs, 93+ runs and 92 RBIs
combined) and the jaw-dropping 101 walks. He may not be a great overall
prospect, but at his size(5'10", 180 lbs)….you don't expect him to
have so much "pop". Also what are your thoughts on Andy Sonnanstine,
who I believe was robbed of the Southern League Pitcher of the Year
award by a vastly older Spike Lundberg? Did the voting managers forget
about Sonnanstine's 4 Complete Game shutouts(which led the minors)?
Long question. On Brignac: No one should have been surprised. We
ranked him ahead of Elijah Dukes last year in the Rays top 10 (No. 4).
He had a fantastic season and is a legitimate shortstop prospect who
can hit and field at that position. Pedroza was a stud at Cal State
Fullerton, so again, if you read BA, you know him. I'm not as high on
him keeping it up at higher levels, he really has a different kind of
stance, but his hands work so well he makes it work. It's
unconventional; maybe I shouldn't be so quick to dismiss it. He clearly
has juice in his bat, quick hands and wrists, and knows how to play the
game. Sonnanstine is very efficient, he's become more than the slider
machine he was in college, and he's got three pitches he can throw for
strikes. Problem is one of them, the fastball, is fringe-average. He's
just hard to see as anything more than a 4-5 starter. Nothing wrong
with that. His ceiling isn't as high as Brignac or even Pedroza, but I
Dave from Manhattan asks: How close was Micah Owings to winning POY, and do you see him cracking the AZ rotation next year?
Surprisingly 16-2, 3.33 and .356 in 59 at-bats didn't cut it, but it
didn't. He wasn't as dominant as the other pitchers we considered in
terms of K's (130 in 162 IP) or ERA, but face it, this guy's in his
first full pro season and gets to Triple-A, then pitches great there?
Very impressive season for Owings, who just two years ago was an
unsigned draft-eligible sophomore and seemed like a guy who had peaked
as a high school player.
Mike from Tempe asks: How much consideration did you give to Carlos Gonzalez?
Not a lot, really. We were expecting bigger numbers from him at
Lancaster. He clearly has big tools, and now it seems like he needs a
bit more surgical focus on the field. I've had some reports that he big
leagues it a bit, and that's just not needed in A ball. But Gonzalez is
one of the top 10-20 prospects in the game. so maybe he can afford to
Seth from Philadelphia, PA asks: Thanks
for another great year John! I was wondering if any Phillies were even
remotely close to your decision as player of the year? Otherwise, do
you see Gordon as a potential Gold Glover at some point in his career?
Thanks Seth, not sure what I had to do with it but I like compliments
and I'm glad to accept this one. Phillies considered: not this time.
They had some pitchers have big years–J.A. Happ, Carlos Carrasco, Zach
Segovia, Matt Maloney and Josh Outman spring to mind. But none is POY
worthy. As for Gordon as a Gold Glover, he's a good 3B, but let's not
Mark from Detroit asks: Did Maybin get any votes for minor league player of the year?
We don't really have "votes" per se but Maybin was considered. I looked
up his stats late in the year, and his season was about the best one
anyone has put up in that ballpark at West Michigan, and he did it at
age 19. No one slugs .450 there, and he slugged .457. He stole bases,
he hit, he fielded . . . he's got all the tools. He made a youthful
mistake with his DUI but we've always heard good things on the makeup,
and I respect the improvement he's made in just a year, because last
year, running up to the draft, some teams were skeptical on the bat.
The Tigers weren't and were very encouraged by his progress in
instructional league. I think he's an elite prospect, a top 10 guy in
Kevin from Mobile, AL asks: was
adam lind considered? he had monster years at both AA and AAA. he is
now hitting again in the bigs, so will he be considered the Jays top
The more he hit, the more Lind was in the mix, guys like Lind and Kevin
Kouzmanoff have to knock our socks off to get in the mix, and both did.
Lind just keeps hitting; he hit at South Alabama, he's hit as a minor
leaguer and he's hitting in the big leagues. Not sure why he's at DH in
the majors; the Jays need to evaluate his defense, always the weakest
part of his game, and having him as the DH doesn't seem to help with
that. He's clearly their No. 1 for me if eligible; if he's not, I
suppose Travis Snider moves into consideration.
Ken from Fairfax, VA asks: Any word on whether Bailey will get the call to Cincy, now that his minor league season is over?
I would guess no; he's worked a lot of innings, and the Reds have
fallen far enough out that it doesn't seem to make sense. I mean, they
certainly haven't given up, but they could have moved him up in August
instead of going and getting all the pitchers they kept getting. I
don't see the point now, but I also think Wayne Krivsky knows better
than i do.
Sam from Huntington Beach asks: how
do u think Collin Balester is comming along i mean he did stuggle in
the start of the year in High A then he went great for the rest then
called up to AA and had a 1.83 era in 3 starts what do u think of him ??
He's the best of a bad lot, that organization is hurting, a lot of
players took steps back this year. It seems like he had enough good
stretches where one can still be encouraged, plus he's still just 20.
Greg from Denver asks: Any consideration for Joe Koshansky?
I wish but then he ended up getting out-homered by Nate Gold. Kudos to
Nate Gold by the way, but back to Koshansky . . . he's a personal
favorite, if you haven't checked out our summer college league lists,
you should, as that's where Koshansky first came to light, in the
Valley League in 2003, I believe it was. The guy has legit power, and
now he gets to sit behind Todd Helton a while. Plus, if Helton were to
somehow miraculously be traded, the Rockies could always move Ian
Stewart or Garret Atkins to first base. That's a crowded situation. If
he's still a Rocky and still in the minors in 2008, I nominate
Koshansky to play first base for Team USA in Beijing.
Craig from Vancouver asks: Hi
How much does it hurt an organization long-term if the do not sign
their early round picks? I read recently that the Nats did not sign
Sean Black (2nd round pick) and wonder how harmful that is to their
minor league system.
It depends on the situation. The Nats had some extra picks, they also
were active in Latin America, but they need talent; they are frankly
desperate for it. So I think it hurts them to lose Black. Their system
had a very rough year, unfortunately.
Ryan from Katy, TX asks: Who's the favorite to be POY next year, since Alex will most likely spend some time in the bigs?
My first guess is Cameron Maybin. I'll throw one other name out there
for fun, Bill Rowell. We haven't heard one negative thing about him yet
from managers we've talked to in the Appy or NY-P leagues, and it
sounds like he can REALLY hit.
johnny ray from saratoga asks: Do you think Gordon should be in Kansas City now? I do..
No, because Wichita is in the Texas League championship series, and the
Royals' future is there. Let him learn to win with Greinke, Hochevar,
Butler, Lubanski, Maier, Lumsden and the rest of the prospects there.
When that series is over, maybe, but then what would really be the
point? I'd wait until next year, so you don't have to put him on the
40-man roster yet.
Steve Balboni from KC, MO asks: How good is the Gordon-Butler combination now, and how good can they be in the future? Do they profile as perennial All-Stars?
What pair of position prospects from the past are they comparable to? Mauer-Morneau? Teixeira-Blalock? Thome-Ramirez?
An honor, Mr. Balboni . . . great question. Both those guys are
all-star caliber hitters. That's pretty good. Butler's also gotten
better defensively, and Gordon isn't just a masher, he's got some
all-around game. That's one of the things I like most about Gordon. As
for prospects from the past . . . that's a great part of this Q. You
know, McCann-Francoeur is a pretty nice tandem, particularly because
they are roommates. I'd also throw out Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn, the
Reds 1st-and 2nd-rounders in 1998. The one with a lot of hype that
hasn't panned out, I'm sorry to say, was the Angels trio of
Kotchman-Mathis-McPherson. Injuries haven't helped, and Mathis' bat
hasn't kept pace, but two years ago, when they all started at Double-A
Arkansas, we thought very, very highly of that group.
Brian from Chicago asks: I'm
assuming Gordon will go into next season as the #1 prospect in
baseball, but will Butler be a top 5 prospect?
Also, if KC has three elite prospects (i'm including Hochevar), why do
you always rank them near the bottom of MLB farm systems? Shouldn't
elite talent be more important than a lot of middle-tier talent?
Butler probably isn't quite top 5 because he's just not as well rounded
as, say, Cam Maybin. Most of his value is in his bat, though he does
have a plus arm and has improved defensively in the outfield.
But I agree with your second point; elite prospects matter more than "a
lot of middle tier talent." It's particularly nice when the elite
prospects are in Double-A. The Royals have that in Hochevar, Lumsden
and then Gordon and Butler. They have some hope; that's more than you
could have said at this time last year, or even moreso, last May,
Steve from San Francisco asks: Even
though we have only seen about 2 months from him, was Tim Lincecum in
the discussion? No question he is already the Giants #1 prospect but
where does he rate in terms of overall prospects in the game and any
projections as to when we see him in San Francisco?
Lincecum wasn't really in the discussion, but you're right, he's
clearly the top Giants prospect. For me, he's in the mix for the top 25
prospects in the game. I've been a big Lincecum guy all year, because
he's unique and he made adjustments, something he didn't do as a
draft-eligible sophomore. I hope the Giants give him a chance to start,
but frankly, I'm surprised they didn't call him up in August. Just the
way they have played things, and the way their bullpen has struggled, I
thought he could have helped them in the majors down the stretch. His
stuff is that nasty.
Ryan from Daytona asks: Did Donnie Veal get close? I can't think of any pitcher who outperformed him considerably.
Look harder–look at Matt Garza, Yovani Gallardo, Homer Bailey, Phillip
Hughes . . . they were all as good or better. Veal was quite good, but
he needs to throw more consistent strikes.
James from Baltimore MD asks: John,
Did any minor leaguer raise their stock more this season than Carlos
Carrasco? Last year, he struggled mightily both at low A and short
season, then he dominates the Sally league this year at 19. Is he a top
50 overall prospect at this point? Thanks.
Well, Carrasco raised it a lot, but I'll direct you to BA's Prospect
Handbook in 2005 (the one with Delmon Young on the cover), Carrasco had
yet to throw a pro pitch, but he was still No. 8 in the organization's
top 30. But we like him a lot now, it's easier to get excited about him
now that he's shown the ability to get people out. He was as good as
any low Class A pitcher this year.
Aaron from Soxprospects.com asks: It seems as though Jacoby Ellsbury made your ballot on the website. Was he really in the discussion? Is his defense that good?
Ellsbury wasn't a huge candidate, but he was around the fringes of the
discussion, I guess you could say. He had a nice year for two playoff
teams, he helps teams win; that's an impact player. He gets on base,
controls the strike zone, plays great defense, steals bases . . .
there's a lot to like. He hit for solid power this year, hitting for
more in Double-A, and I think he'll hit for enough power to avoid being
another Joey Gathright, i.e., enough power to be a very solid leadoff
hitter in the major leagues. Is he Johnny Damon? That's probably too
optimistic. Damon slugged .480 in the minors, and Ellsbury's slugging
about .430. The difference in power more than makes up for the fact
that Ellsbury throws about 50 times better than Damon.
neel from nyc asks: Yankee
pitching should be better in the next couple of years with guys like
Hughes, Kennedy, Cox and chamberlin going to the big club.
I'm not as optimistic as you are on all those guys. Cox had a nice
year, got hit hard by Cuba while pitching for Team USA; I like JB, any
pitcher who knows about the Drover in Omaha has got a chance, but I
still think of him as a setup guy, not Mariano Rivera's replacement.
Chamberlain hasn't pitched in pro ball yet, and Kennedy has pitched,
what, twice? Both solid prospects, but neither overwhelms me. I do
think the organization has much better depth both on the mound and in
the field, it's a top 15 organization for me.
James from Guthrie OK asks: Hi
How Close was Carlos Gonzalez, How are the top five for the Honor going
into next year? To me it seems that Gordon winning the award is
somewhat of a joke considering BIlly Butler from his team was a better
player and Iannetta, and Koshansky from same league were also as good
or better, I welcome your comments. Thanks.
John Manuel: Butler's OPS was about 120 points below Gordon's, and he plays a less
demanding defensive position, so that's just not correct. Iannetta
didn't hit for power at Triple-A Colorado Springs, otherwise he was in
the mix, pretty strong for me, actually. Koshansky's older and again,
not as demanding a position, plus his OPS was about 110 points below
Gordon's. Asked and answered, counselor.
David from Caracas, Venezuela asks: what´s
your take on Yankee Pitching Prospect Christian Garcia? it had been
said before that his pure stuff is better than Hughes´s, is that true?
Garcia's got big stuff; that's a little too strong I think, doesn't
give Hughes enough credit. But Garcia's comeback is very important for
the Yankees, he came back fine from the oblique straing, and he's got a
very high ceiling. Don't forget, he's very inexperienced as a pitcher,
as he was only moved to the mound as a HS senior.
John Manuel: Sorry, had a phone call I had to take.
bryan from buffalo, ny asks: i
dont know if this really the place for it but can you compare last
years summer player of the year (A. Miller) and the years(D.Price)are
they fairly similar and project the same?
You're lucky, I had a scout compare them last week. He said: "I think
he (Price) is better than Andrew Miller at this stage, great arm speed
is the key for him. He has better control and the ball has more life
than Miller, but Miller does it a little easier. Price just has so much
life to the fastball and the command to use all 17 inches of the
plate." For what it's worth, Price is probably a bit more athletic, but
Miller throws harder.
John Smith from Seattle, Washington asks: Terry
Evans is the player of the year. It's a too bad since he wasn't a
prospect for you guys that you didn't give him this honor. He hit 309,
33 HR's, 87 RBI's, 37 SB's. 30-30 Guy. He wasn't even in your top ten
all year in baseball america player of the year watch.
Well, he should have been in the POY watch, that's fair to say. You
left out the stats that don't help his case, though, like the age (24),
the BB-K ratio (41-127) and . .. well, those are the only negatives. He
had a great year. His track record is so far below that, however, and
with his age, he STILL had a lower OPS than Gordon (.942 to 1.016).
Evans has tools and he is a good prospect, but he isn't a better
prospect than Gordon, and frankly, I don't think he had as good of a
Jim Goulart from brewerfan.net asks: Is
there a better one-two organizational pitching combo than the Brewers'
Yovani Gallardo and Will Inman in terms of 2006 results on the field,
particularly when you consider they are 20 and 19 years old,
respectively, each with birthdays next February? Does their inclusion
alone guarantee the Brewers a top-five spot in the organizational
rankings next spring?
That's a good one. Again, I'll say don't ignore Mark Rogers when
discussing their prospects. I believe in him. That said, Inman and
Gallardo had monster years, and it would be nice if they could share
some of their polish with Rogers. Inman in particular was impressive
with his consistency, but he also is going to have to do it again. He's
a bit unconventional, he's short, it's just going to be harder for him.
The Brew Crew was a top 5 org last year, and I think it can be again,
lots of young pitching in this year's draft, and a nice year by Ryan
Braun, whom I consider a potentially elite hitter.
Matt B. from San Diego asks: Thanks
for the chat! It looks to me that James Loney has it all, except for
the concerns I've heard about him not having enough power for first
base. Is this the only thing that kept him from consideration? I mean
come on, he led the minor in average and is predicted to be a future
MLB gold glover.
He just doesn't have the bat speed scouts look for in a power hitter.
It doesn't mean he can't be a productive player, because he can. But
eight home runs at Las Vegas? Eight? That is stunning. He had a .411
slugging percentage coming into the season. He slugged .508 this year
away from Vegas, .546 overall. He's a good prospect, he's a very good
prospect. I'm still not convinced, though, that he'll be an impact
player. In fact, I'm not convinced he'll be a regular. The player who
pops to mind for me with him is Travis Lee, though hopefully he's a
chris from long beach asks: as someone who coached both evan longoria and ryan braun in high school, i am curious: who will make the better pro?
You tell me! I'd go for Braun, he sounds toolsier, but Longoria has
played better and seems less injury prone, as well as more sound
defensively. But upside, it sounds like Braun has more upside.
James from Guthrie OK asks: JM,
What are you hearing on Justin Upton, I talked with people who have
said he big leagues it too, and may not turn out to be as good as
Maybin, or McCutchen what have you heard?
Frankly, this was a really disappointing year for him. The Uptons had
bad mojo this year, that's a nice way to say it. He definitely coasted
this year, according to the scouts we've talked to in the MWL. More
from Jim Callis on his MWL top 20, but I haven't heard great things
about Justin Upton this year. Maybin was nearly his equal out of high
school anyway; he just didn't have the track record with the bat in
terms of showcases and Team USA and the like. And McCutchen just isn't
as physical as Upton, but he's not chopped liver either, so yes, those
two very well could turn out to be better players, and I wouldn't be
Aaron from Allston, MA asks: Speaking
of Nate Gold, what's the story on him? Obviously he's old for the
league and all but those are impressive numbers. Does he have any major
flaw that scouts pick at or is it just the age?
Went to Gonzaga, huge player, holes in his swing but the power has been
there since he signed. He's just kind of a moose of a guy, 6-foot-3,
240 or so, and he doesn't get cheated when he swings. This was a career
high in HRs for him though, by a considerable amount.
dalton from vancouver asks: I
know Hunter Pence probably wasn't considered for POY, but how would
you, or any scouts you've talked to, rate his Double-A season?
No, Pence was considered, he had one of the better years by a position
player, very good year. Still unconventional, chokes up a bit, swing
looks choppy but it works for him, and his other tools again don't get
done conventionally but they play. I think he's going to be an everyday
corner OF, and soon.
James from Guthrie Ok asks: JM
Who is on the All Surprise Players of the year list I figure Brian
Barton has got to be number 1, because he was in the running toward the
end of the year along with Homer Bailey Right?
Hmmm. Barton's up there, good call . . . Terry Evans and Mark Reynolds
are probably bigger surprises though. Reynolds did it at Double-A and
for Team USA, and Evans kept hitting at Double-A too. Those two guys
were barely on the radar if they were at all, and both were factors,
big factors, this season.
James from Guthrie OK asks: Philip Hughes or Homer Bailey does either one break spring training with the big league club next year?
John Manuel: I'd guess Homer because the Reds need the help.
sam from Huntington Beach asks: so
ur saying Collin Balester isnt a good pitcher bc everytime i ask u a
question u never have n e thing good to say about him all u say is that
the org sucks… so u think he has no chance of being good or what
No, I like Balester, but it's hard to get too excited about his year,
the 5.00 ERA, the lack of K's. I'll stop complimenting him
backhandedly–he's got a heavy, heavy fastball and seems mentally tough
to handle the trials and tribulations of a difficult year, responding
to his Double-A promotion by pitching his best ball of the year. That's
Warren from Lewisburg, PA asks: How serious are the Indians about trying to play Trevor Crowe at 2B? If they're
willing to use guys like Jason Michaels and Coco Crisp in LF, why not him?
John Manuel: Good point. I have to agree.
Moderator: And that's the way it is, Tuesday, September 12,
2006. I'm John Manuel. For all of us here at Baseball America, thanks
for tuning in. And stay tuned for our Top 20 minor league prospects
lists, broken down by league, starting next week!