Josh Norris: Ladies and gentlemen, it is chat time. Let’s chat about some Eastern League.
CyMature (Cooperstown): The obvious question. Going forward: Devers or Torres? Thanks, Josh.
Josh Norris: It’s going to be close, I think. They have very similar offensive profiles, but Torres will have a touch more value because he should be a better defender. They both have star potential for sure, though.
Gerry (Toronto): You note that pitching was down this year. Did anyone like Conner Greene or Sean Reid-Foley?
Josh Norris: A lot of people liked Conner Greene’s stuff but not necessarily what he did with it. He had the best fastball in the league and his curveball was in the conversation for best breaking ball, but he was more of a thrower than a pitcher, in managers/scouts eyes. He lived up in the zone a lot, for example, and could get hit. If he irons out the finer points of pitching and keeps the same stuff, the ceiling is very high. He wasn’t far off the list either.
Bruce Springsteen (New jersey): Can you go into your crystal ball and name two players that make this list in 2018?
Josh Norris: I’ll do you better than that. Instead of two guys, I’ll give you one for each team: Franklin Perez (Erie) Triston McKenzie (Akron) Ryan Mountcastle (Bowie) Daniel Johnson (Harrisburg) Estevan Florial (Trenton) Mitch Keller (Altoona) Seranthony Dominguez (Reading) Peter Alonso (Binghamton) Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (New Hampshire) Garrett Hampson (Hartford) Josh Ockimey (Portland) Bryan Reynolds (Richmond)
johnny ray (New York): Where do you see Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins starting out next season? Does Hays start in Baltimore?
Josh Norris: With a good final month of the season and a solid spring training next year, I think Hays could win the Opening Day job in Baltimore in 2018. Mullins will probably be in Norfolk.
Matt (Va): Does Vlad Jr and Bo Bichette start next season in New Hampshiere?
Josh Norris: I think there’s a good chance they both start back in Dunedin while the weather warms up in New Hampshire. That said, it’s not like Lansing in April is a picnic either, so beginning the year in the Eastern League certainly isn’t out of the question.
Butch Hobson (Good question.): Fenway dreams of Devers hitting .300 with 30 homers some day. Realistic?
Josh Norris: It’s not out of the question, especially considering the state of power in the game. I’d wager against him hitting .300 but I definitely could see 30 home runs out of him over a full season.
WILLIE (NYC): Would Torres be ranked number 1. How close was Estrada making the list and another Yankees close to making it
Josh Norris: Estrada was very, very close to making this list. He was on an initial iteration of this list, in fact. Managers around the league paid him plenty of compliments for his ability to get on base and play solid defense at both second and shortstop (once Torres left for Scranton) as well as his leadership abilities on the field and work ethic behind the scenes. As for Torres vs. Devers, I think Torres might have gotten the edge, but it would have been by the absolute slightest of margins.
Tiffythetitan (Oakland, CA): *sigh* Anyone other Richmond prospects for the Giants to get excited about? Any undercover prospects that caught someone's eye?
Josh Norris: Aramis Garcia got some love from managers for his work with the pitchers and his quick work behind the plate catching runners. CJ Hinojosa also got some love for his Steady Eddie type of skill set and versatility in the middle of the diamond.
Fred (Illinois): Can you elaborate on the comment about Chavis's defense? Normally, I don't think of someone with a good arm but who can't stick at third as being a good fit for second.
Josh Norris: That stems from his amateur days at shortstop. Managers noted his athleticism and the up-the-middle defense as a reason that might be a possibility. It also comes from Devers’ presence at third base. I’m anxious to see Chavis in the fall league to see if he plays anywhere other than third.
DW (NYC): Any thoughts on Oswalt? Guillorme?
Josh Norris: Oswalt had an excellent season and got a little love. Managers who saw him in the Florida State League also noted that he improved his secondaries tremendously, particularly his changeup and his feel to use the pitch. Guillorme got some love because of his extremely fast hands and defensive abilities and his reputation as a pesky hitter. I personally think he can get himself to the big leagues on the strenght of his defense.
Frustraed in Flushing (CT): For all the losing the Mets did in the early stages of the Sandy Alderson regime, I expected a much stronger, deeper farm system. Is the Met AA team totally void of high-end prospects? From a fans perspective, it looks like the whole system is weak.
Josh Norris: Indeed, the whole system is very weak now. That’s especially true considering Amed Rosario and Dom Smith have graduated. The Binghamton team was pretty light this year, but could have a standout guy in 2018 in Peter Alonso. Of course, it might also have another Florida Gator who will draw a bit of attention. #Tebow #KaChing
Richard (So Cal): Where did Austin Hays rank and what did scouts have to say about the breakout year he had ?
Josh Norris: I won’t give away where Hays ranked (http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/subscribe/), but I will say that he was universally lauded in both leagues I did (Carolina League Top 20 coming Monday). He showed the ability to play center field but fit better in right field because of his arm but is a candidate to hit for average and power in the big leagues. Hays was among the league’s elite, period.
Josh Norris: Sorry, had to step away from the chat for a moment. Now I’m back.
JIMMY (NYC): Was there any other Yankee Pitching Prospect close to making the list
Josh Norris: Not particularly, no, but Dillon Tate would have been the closest if he qualified. Some of their relievers, too, including, Carroll and Brewer had interesting seasons too.
Sam (Queens): Anything on Marcos Molina? I know reports weren't great. Is David Thompson a potential regular at 3b?
Josh Norris: Molina’s stuff indeed was down, but that’s to be expected in his first full year coming off of Tommy John. This year, for example, he was 90-92 with his fastball as opposed to the mid-90s he had been pre-surgery. He’s also lost some of the sink on his fastball. Next year will be big for him.
don (nyc): did you get a good look at dillon tate? excited to see him next year?
Josh Norris: I did not see Dillon Tate much this year outside of a very bad outing in minor league spring training. Very excited to see him and Justus Sheffield in the AFL this year though. Heard excellent things about Tate post surgery.
Richard (Holly Springs, NC): Any love for Akron's Bobby Bradley?
Josh Norris: There was a little bit of love for him, but nothing overwhelming. The power is there, but managers saw him as more of a mistake-type hitter than someone who belonged in the Top 20 in the league. There are holes in his swing, and he has work to do defensively as well.
John (Acworth, GA): Did Lucas Long of Bowie get any consideration?
Josh Norris: Not really. Managers/scouts who saw him thought of him as more of a sixth starter type than a true rotation piece.
Doug (Centennial, Co): What kind of hitter Do you feel Mc Mahon will eventually become and do you see him as starting 1st base at some point next year?
Josh Norris: He’s going to a be a line-drive type of hitter, probably with more power than would be expected for a couple of factors: A) Coors Field. B) Whatever is going on with the baseballs. C) The Rockies still expect him to develop more strength in his frame.
Donnie (nyc): austin hays for clint frazier, who says no? Same question with Robles & Florial. Yankee homer here, but I'd prefer Hays & Florial. Thanks!
Josh Norris: I don’t think either team agrees to either of these deals. Hays just had among the best seasons in all the minor leagues, and the Orioles are very high on him internally. The Yankees obviously love the potential of Frazier too. Robles and Florial is the more interesting scenario, in my mind, but I think there’s a reason that the Nationals hung onto him in the Eaton deal and in all the other trades they’ve made since then. I’ll be in the AFL next month and am hoping to do a compare/contrast piece on Florial/Robles (assuming they’re both there).
JR (New Hampshire): Was Danny Jansen close? His numbers were better in A and AAA, but this was the only list he was eligible for.
Josh Norris: Scouts who I talked to saw him more as an offensive-minded backup type of catcher with work still to be done defensively. Particularly, needed work on his lateral agility as a blocker.
Eamon (Florida): Any reports on Corey Oswalt's velocity? I've heard ranges of like 8 mph.
Josh Norris: We got low-90s and touching higher at times.
Roger (Washington DC): Tyler Cyr was a surprising inclusion on the Best Tools list this year as the EL's "Best Reliever." How does Cyr compare with a couple of his better known bullpenmates, Reyes Moronta and Rodolfo Martinez?
Josh Norris: Cyr doesn’t throw quite as hard (94-96) than Moronta/Martinez, but he couples the pitch with a decent splitter and a slider too. Scouts saw him as a possible seventh-eighth inning guy rather than a true closer.
Josh Norris: Thanks for the chat, friends. I’ll be back on Monday for Carolina League.