Mike (Virginia): Is there reason to be optimistic about Trey Ball's last couple of starts? The scouting reports weren't great, but it seems like he has at least righted the ship somewhat in the past week.
Josh Norris: Hey Mike. Every scouting report we’ve gotten here has been very bad, to say the least. It’s obviously good that he wasn’t bombed. But evaluators aren’t terribly optimistic about his future.
Jason "JB" Bornas (Vegas): Now that Polanco and Betts have been called up, who is the next can't miss, exciting prospect to watch?
Josh Norris: I would venture to say that’s Byron Buxton or, if you looking for someone nearer to the big leagues, Kris Bryant.
Henry Owens (Portland): What is my ceiling? It doesn't seem that I have premium velocity, but I've been dominating AA. Will MLB hitters catch up to my stuff?
Josh Norris: I think your ceiling is somewhere in line with a No. 3. You have good stuff, but not that surefire top-of-the-rotation nastiness that you’d see from a Jose Fernandez back in the day.
Dan Vacek (The Couch): The Cubs say Alcanterra's promotion is only for a days, but with his spark and the way hes off to a quick start, is it possible he's here to stay for good?
Josh Norris: Almost certainly not. He’s a replacement while Darwin Barney is tending to his fatherly duties.
K. Boz-Starkey (~~): Who is the Yankees top pitching prospect right now, and might we see them soon to make a post-ASB run?
Josh Norris: Luis Severino, and absolutely not. You don’t have much at the upper levels to inject that kind of fire for a late run.
tim (Hoboken): Velazquez seems to be having a year similar to Peraza last year...does this put him on the map as a middle infield prospect like it did for Peraza? Is he Arizona's future at SS/2B?
Josh Norris: He is absolutely having a breakout, and he’s a very real prospect. Leading the minors in triples, stealing 38+ bags and getting on base every dang day will do that for you. I’m not sure he’s the future, but he should definitely be in the plans.
Allen W (Arizona): What do scouts say about Maikel Franco's terrible start? Was there a flaw in his swing? Or did he just have a brutally bad stretch? Thanks for the chat!
Josh Norris: A lot of varying opinions on Franco. Some believe it’s an approach issue. Some believe there are mechanical issues. Some believe it’s just youth. He is, after all, 21 and in Triple-A. That’s not something you see every day.
Jô Starkey (Brazil): Who has more power potential, Bryant, Gallo or O'brien
Josh Norris: Insanely fun question, but for my money it’s Joey Gallo. He’s the unrivaled king. He’s got more power than President Obama, Bill Gates and Sumner Redstone combined.
Jon (DC): Steven Souza or Michael A. Taylor?
Josh Norris: Michael Taylor, easily. He can hit (though probably not this well), has power and plays an excellent center field.
Giulia Levine (The House): Would a minor league home run derby of Bryant, Baez and others be more exciting than the MLB HR derby?
Josh Norris: Most years, I’d say yes. This year, we’ve got Puig, Stanton, Tulo. That’s gonna be gooooood.
Giulia Levine (~): Do they do a HR derby before Futures Game? They should!
Josh Norris: They kinda do. It’s not televised, but they do a thing where a bunch of high schoolers compete to see who gets to take swings in the actual HR Derby, much like Jacob Gatewood did last year.
David F (Miami): Now that Rodon is signed who is the second best white sox prospect, and any sleepers?
Josh Norris: Tim Anderson is the best behind Rodon. If you’re a ChiSox fan you know about him: A shortstop right now who might have to move to second but has a chance to be a fine hitter with some sock in his bat going forth.
LeBron James (Cleveland): I'm back!
Josh Norris: And so is Austin Meadows! Where was Chris Sheridan on that one?
Mohegan Starkey (Uncasville): What's more likely to happen: Joey Gallo hitting 60 MLB homeruns in a season, or me hitting back to back Hard 8's
Josh Norris: I don’t know the hard eights thing means, but Joey Gallo has potential to throw up a really, really big number in the HR column.
Giulia Levine (~): How many prospects have more than 2 80-grade tools right now?
Josh Norris: After a quick meeting of the minds, we’ve decided Byron Buxton is the only one we can think of. The 80s in his case are speed and defense.
Aaron Doorman (Mississippi Riverboat): Domingo Santana struggled in his brief call up. What does he need to do in order to have success?
Josh Norris: Get a better approach and strike out less.
Arismendy Alcantara (Chicago (for a while)): Theo just told me I'm here to stay for a while - you callin' him a liar?
Josh Norris: I didn’t see that. My apologies to you and Theo.
Levine, Starkey, Bornas, LLC (Attorneys @ Law): Who do you this will win the AL ROY - Tanaka, Springer or Abreu?
Josh Norris: Abreu
Big Pat G (Tally, FL): Are you related to Derek Norris? Do you have an 80-grade beard too?
Josh Norris: I am not that I know of (same with Daniel Norris and Bud Norris), although I do have a relative somewhere named Chuck Norris. I shaved my 45-grade this morning because it was hella itchy.
Zywica (TX): Hypothetical (assume no contracts): Javier Baez and Alex Meyer for Felix Hernandez. Who wins going forward?
Josh Norris: I approve the handle here, Zwyica. Howeva, when asking me fantasy questions you should remember I failed to pull the trigger on Davis (my player) for Matt Adams and Tanaka this year. That still keeps me up at nights.
Hank (Rapid City, Iowa): Lightening round question: Casey Gillespie or Matt Olson?
Josh Norris: Matt Olson. I love three-true-outcome guys. Party fact: Adam Dunn is my favorite player.
Trudy Harhay-Starkey (Innocent until Guilty): Can you tell me the top 3 catching prospects right now?
Josh Norris: Blake Swihart, Austin Hedges, Gary Sanchez for me.
John Paul "JP" Starkey (Manchester, CT): What is your favorite MILB stadium promotion?
Josh Norris: I like this question a lot: I am a sucker for Zooperstars!, the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo, bobble anything but head, and I also like the Diamond Digs that teams sometimes have.
Nate (Fort Worth): Gary Sanchez -- you must be higher on him than most. If true, why? Think he'll stick at catcher?
Josh Norris: He’s in a lot of our top 75s here at BA, and if he straightens up and flies right, then I think he can. The ingredients are there.
Giulia Levine (711): Free Slurpee day! Who is the prospect equivalent of frozen ice that, when you look at the ingredients, is nothing special, but it's a SLURPEE so it rules?
Josh Norris: Rangel Ravelo with the White Sox comes to mind, as does Robert Refsnyder with the Yankees. Both can hit, but the other tools don’t jump out at you.
Stephen (Sacramento): Which minor league player would you build a team around...both for a pitcher and player? (If it was major league I am guessing most would say Trout).
Josh Norris: Byron Buxton and Lucas Giolito
Dale (SF): A's minor league system now worst in baseball? What's the word on Nunez, Robertson and Olson? Anything to get excited about?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Not the worst. All three of the players you mention are worth excitement, to a degree, especially Nunez, a bat-first third baseman showing great power, especially since his league’s all-star break. Robertson, the A’s felt strongly enough about him to trade a top-5 overall prospect in Addison Russell. Olson has good power but an inability to make consistent contact.
John Paul "JP" Starkey (Manchester, CT): Luis Torrens, really shot out of a cannon this week, and it seems like the Yankees are currently loaded with Catchers. Could you rank the top 5 Yankees catching prospects for me?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Currently, I’d go with Gary Sanchez, John Ryan Murphy and Torrens.
Brian (Greensboro, NC): After seeing JaCoby Jones in Greensboro last weekend, I was thrilled to see him atop the Hot Sheet. What is his ceiling? Looks like he is putting it all together
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: As we wrote today, scouts who have seen Jones this year think he has at least a shot of being able to stick at short. Even if he doesn’t, a player with his power potential who can play a keystone spot, even for a few games, has great value.
~ Starkey (Manchester, CT): With the Red sox basically out of contention, might we see a little taste of Owens this year, and do you think he is a #1 or more along the lines of a 2\3?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: It’s very doubtful the Red Sox would bring up Owens this season. There’s no urgency and won’t be 22 until later this month. Scouts peg him more along the lines of a No. 2 or No. 3 with good makeup.
Pat Gillespeeee (Florida): Javier Baez was off to a rough start, but it looks like he's turned a corner since the promotion of Bryant. Do you think we might see a taste of him this year?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: It’s possible, certainly, as the Cubs have nothing to lose from bringing up Baez. He nearly made the team out of spring training. If he continues to rake, a late-season callup makes sense.
Jake 'The King' Levine (Brooklyn): In Alex Meyer's last 2 starts he went 12ip 3r 8bb & 17ks. What kept him off this week's hot sheet, was it the walks?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Simply a matter of better weeks for other players and not enough space. He’s the goods, as they say. He’s pegged as a quality No. 2 or No. 3 starter if the command stabilizes, or a top-notch setup guy or closer.
Jake 'The King' Levine (Brooklyn): Is Rob Refsnyder a legitimate prospect? if so, do you think the Yankees will atleast give him a shot shortly?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Yes and yes. Clearly he’s in the Yankees’ plans as they’ve played him in right field, his college position, to see if he’s a fit for this season. His play at second base remains a work in progress. But he makes solid, consistent, hard contact and has blazed through each level. An August callup makes sense, especially if the Yankees’ offense continues to be inconsistent.
bardin (San Diego): Dilson Herrera: Starting 2B for the Mets in 2015?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: That might be a bit soon, unless the Mets pull the trigger on a deal for Daniel Murphy. But the Mets like Herrera’s defense and his ability to make contact with a lightning-quick swing.
Elliot (Youngstown OH): So we get Lebron back, but that doesn't make up for leaving Nellie Rodriguez off the list. All he did was go 26-9-12-12 with 2 doubles and five homers. 462/1115/1577. Northeast Ohio still gets no respect!
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Nelson, as other folks in the office can attest, was a late, cutting-room floor guy for the Hot Sheet. Sometimes factors such as age relative to league and prospect status take precedence. He’s a big, big dude, but scouts aren’t completely sold on the bat.
John Paul Levine (Manshantucket): Do you think Kevin Plawecki will be more of a 10-15 or 20-25 homerun type of guy?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I think it’s always safest to temper the power, but Plawecki should be, by all accounts, a solid major league hitter. He has excellent plate discipline—always has, back to Purdue. One evaluator we talked to called Plawecki “a better catcher, a better thrower and a better hitter” than Travis d’Arnaud.
Cody Vandommele (Tillsonburg, Ont): Thanks for the chat as always. What are your thoughts on David Dahl this season?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Heard such mix things on Dahl. The Rockies, as you’d expect, love him, calling him a true five-tool player with a 20-homer, 20-steal future and an outstanding defender. One evaluator said if Dahl doesn’t learn to control the strike zone, he’s a fourth outfielder. So, as always, the truth is probably somewhere in between, which is a solid regular.
Allen W (Arizona): What can you tell me about Jake Lamb. Is he ready ti take over the hot corner in Arizona soon?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: He’s close, for sure. The report on Lamb, overshadowed by third baseman Joey Gallo and Kris Bryant, is he’s a quality, everyday player who the Diamondbacks expect to be a major contributor. Not only does he rake, he defends.
Big Dave (AR): How much power projection does Torrens have?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Power’s usually the last thing to arrive for players, and he’s 18. It’s very difficult to project that far out. More power than John Ryan Murphy, scouts believe, for whatever that’s worth.
Big Dave (AR): Who has been the most impressive draftee from this year so far?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Has to be Kyle Schwarber in my opinion. The Cubs knew he’d be advanced as far as the bat is concerned and he’s had little trouble so far (.419/.495/.826) at two levels.
robby (Massachusetts): What is the potential of Jake Thompson? Is he worth holding onto in a 14 team dynasty league with 15 minor league spots??
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Ben Badler, who’s had the Tigers in our Prospect Handbook for some time now, talked to evaluators who say Thompson’s average to above-average stuff across the board give him the makings of a potential No. 3 starter. But he hasn’t even reached 200 innings as a pro. Very early to make a definitive statement on his potential.
Patrick (El Paso): What does the future hold for Devon Marrero now that his bat seems to be improving to the point of being in conversations.
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Saw that recently his name came up as a possibility for a callup this season as the Red Sox acknowledge the playoffs might not be realistic this season. He stands to have a very good chance at being the shortstop of the future because of his steady glove, which will mean a permanent home at third for Xander Bogaerts.
DANNY LEVINE (THE TABLET): HI. WHO IS THE INDIANS BEST PROSPECT BESIDES LINDOR.
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Despite the hamstring injury that’s ruined his season, Clint Frazier remains their No. prospect. He still shows flashy tools in his plus-plus power potential and feel for the barrel.
Matt (Jacksonville): Do you think the Marlins will promote Colin Moran to AA this season?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Since he missed part of the season with a knee injury, I think Miami will let Moran get at-bats at Jupiter this season, especially since it’s already mid-July.
Brett (New Jersey): Josh, with Jose Berrios recently getting bumped to Double A what is your timetable for him to reach Minnesota and what do you expect when he arrives?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: I think you’re answering your own question there. Berrios is very, very young and just got promoted to Double-A. He’s just 20, just got a bump up. He’s probably not going to see Target Field, except for the Futures Game, until late 2015 at the earliest.
Troy Bilodeau (JT): Hey. Is Boston's system good enough to make the Red Sox World Series contenders in 2-3 years without going into free agency for big moves?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Certainly a playoff contender, especially since the Red Sox have grown averse to large free agent expenditures, outside of keeping a player such as Jon Lester. What they do have is the inventory to make enough deals to stock their team without making a big free agent splash.
Ken (Chicago): How quickly before Carlos Rodon gets to Chicago?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: If he had signed quicker, there was a real possibility Rodon could have gotten to the bigs late this season. Since he just signed and the minor league season ends in about six weeks, it’s less likely he’ll be able to debut in 2014.
AH Jiggalo (LaMonica): With a major logjam at SS in the cubs organization..where do you long-term see, Castro, Baez, Russell playing?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Depends on who you believe. Russell is the most surehanded of the players you mention, Baez can be moved to the outfield, and Castro is the most marketable because of major league track record and cost-assurance.
Etienne (San Jose): Any big trade deals left to be seen by contenders, the teams with stocked systems appear to be sellers and the ones that need the help are depleted in their farm?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: A desperate Yankees franchise always makes a “big deal” a strong possibility. Problem is, beyond Luis Severino and possibly Aaron Judge, the Yankees have little other teams consider top-tier talent. But David Price and Jon Lester are not being traded to the Yankees, regardless of what the Yankees offer. So the blockbuster of the season has probably already happened in the form of Samardzija.
Marc (San Fran): Do Edwin Escobar's struggles concern you? Is he still a legit prospect? Thanks!
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: To the Giants, yes. They believe in his fastball and changeup, calling both solid-average, if not a tick above. One scout, however, called him an enigma, and that was the kindest thing he said, and pinned a “lefty specialist” future on Escobar.
Pat Gillespie (Florida): Do the Cardinals have any legit Catching prospects that could replace Yadi, while he's out?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Not right now. The converted Carson Kelly and Steve Bean have both taken steps back and both are far away, regardless. Hence, the pickup of George Kottaras.
LeBron Levine (CLEVELAND ROCKS!): Are the tides turning in Cleveland? Johnny Football, LeBron and now.... who is the next great Indians player, and when will he be in Cleveland?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: Francisco Lindor and he could arrive late this year.
Patuta G (the IBC): Sup? What is your take on Mark Appel?
Vincent Lara-Cinisomo: It is difficult to remain optimistic about Appel, but he’s very early into his pro career. The velocity is there (he'll touch 96-97 mph at his best, but scouts see more of a back-end starter than an ace. That’ll do it for Josh and I today. Thanks for all the questions and the interest in Baseball America. Meanwhile, the Midseason Prospect Update is now available on the Apple Newsstand! It is $4.99. You get it by downloading the BA app in the Apple Newsstand (the app itself is free) and downloading the update, which is classified as a Special Issue. Here's a link to the app: http://bit.ly/BA_iTunes Enjoy!