Moderator: Baseball America’s Matt Eddy was here chat about this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet.
Jp Bozzi (2nd Base): Now that we can't getting excited about Polanco being called up anymore, who is the next "could be anyday" prospect waiting to get called up?
Matt Eddy: Probably Mookie Betts of the Red Sox if he keeps hitting and can handle CF. For a weekly update that answers this question, I would recommend the Baseball America Top 10 Fantasy Prospects feature. Here’s the archive link: http://www.baseballamerica.com/t/top-10-fantasy-prospects/
Tom (NYC): Matt, thank you for taking the question. When considering the Mets farm system, who are the 3 or 4 players that come to mind that saw their stock appreciate thus far this season?
Matt Eddy: The list begins with Double-A C Kevin Plawecki and includes first-rounders Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini. For a deeper cut I’d nominate 2013 third-rounder Casey Meisner, a prep RHP from Cypress, Texas. The 6-foot-7 righty brought more velocity (up to 94 mph) and a tighter breaking ball to spring training this year. He now pitches for short-season Brooklyn.
Martin (Vancouver): Hi Matt, Any opinion on whether Correa's injury is going to have any long term effects? Do you see it effecting his base stealing abilities at all?
Matt Eddy: I don’t think the Astros SS Carlos Correa will be effected by surgery to repair a fractured fibula, at least not in the long term. His ceiling remains that of a top 10 hitter in baseball, it’s just now he won’t gain exposure to Double-A this year. He’s more of an opportune basestealer than pure burner, so I think his SB outlook remains unchanged.
Roger (Greenville, SC): How close was Lucas Sims after the no-hitter?
Matt Eddy: He appears poised for a turnaround at High-A Lynchburg. Sims threw seven no-hit innings as part of a Hillcats (nine-inning) win yesterday, but in his previous outing (Saturday) he let in four runs in five innings, and he now has a 4.71 ERA on the season. The calendar worked against him because we have to consider that first start too.
Gertrude & Noah (Empty Nesters): Thanks for taking the time to do this, big fans. Who has had more of an early disappointment, Trey Ball or Mark Appel?
Matt Eddy: Think you have to go with Astros RHP Mark Appel, the first pick in the 2013 draft. The early expectations were higher, for one thing, and he was much closer to being a finished product as a college senior from a major program. Three of Appel’s past five starts have been in either High Desert or Lancaster, and that’s no way to build a shiny ERA. Sure enough he’s allowed 24 runs in 11 2/3 innings.
Itto (PR): How much Albert Almora have fallen from the prospects list based on his recent struggles?
Matt Eddy: Outside of Kris Bryant’s heroics, it’s really been a rough year for a Cubs farm system that appeared to have impact talent and depth in the preseason. Righties C.J. Edwards and PIerce Johnson have been injured, and so has right fielder Jorge Soler. Meanwhile, Javier Baez and Albert Almora have given flat performances with terrible SO/BB ratios. As to Almora’s rebound potential … he’s obviously not this bad, but he’s not a tools monster, so I wouldn’t expect a miracle in the second half. He could regroup in the offseason and come back strong in 2015, but he’s always been more skill than raw ability.
Mike (Houston): Where does Brady Aiken end up this year? And next? According to an article I saw the Astros seem to be in no hurry.
Matt Eddy: That’s a smart approach. Let Aiken dictate his own development track by how well he performs. No matter how talented, young pitchers are unpredictable. Just look at the top prep lefties from the 2012 and 2013 drafts. The Padres’ Max Fried has been out all year with a forearm injury, though he’s been effective when healthy. Red Sox lefty Trey Ball has been the opposite—healthy but ineffective. Look for Aiken to spend most or all of 2015 in the Low-A Midwest League, much like Lance McCullers, Vince Velasquez, et al. in 2013. You want to limit his exposure to High-A Lancaster if you can, so that means extended time at Low-A and Double-A. But if Aiken proves himself in 20 or so starts at Double-A, THEN you can think about fast-tracking him.
Jeff (Bay Area): What's the outlook for Jake Bauers? Other stuff I have read questions whether he has enough power to provide much value at 1b and defensively can't play anywhere else. Thanks
Matt Eddy: This is the risk with every first base prospect who ever lived. A first base-only player has to hit and deliver above-average power because there’s no fallback option. Once in awhile, though, a young first baseman will break through and establish his bonafides. Look at Jon Singleton, the of the Phillies, in the 2010 South Atlantic League. He crushed the ball at Lakewood, a tough hitter’s park, and emerged as one of the top prospects at the position. The second half will tell us a lot about whether Padres 1B Jake Bauers is on the same track.
Etienne (San Jose): Obviously Trey Ball was going to be a project for the Red Sox, but is there any bright side to his story or are they basically having to try to rebuild him from the ground up if everything is out of order from what scouts saw last year?
Matt Eddy: Ball has walked 3.5 batters per nine this year, which obviously isn’t great but is acceptable for a young southpaw getting his feet under him. Ideally you’d like to see at least some ability to miss bats or generate weak contact, but it Ball’s doing that, then it’s not apparent in the numbers. You might cite the Blue Jays’ Daniel Norris as an example of a wayward lefthander who saw the light, but even when he was running up ugly ERAs he at least was fanning a batter per inning.
Lien (Tn): Is there a reason why Hunter Harvey has not been promoted?
Matt Eddy: I personally don’t have an issue with teams holding back young pitchers early in their career. Let them build an innings base and some stamina, then fast-track them when they get established at Double-A. Plus, Delmarva is a very nice pitcher’s park for Harvey to gain confidence in his secondary pitches. He obviously has a big league fastball.
Buccosmfg (Miami): What can we make of Jed Bradley's reappearance in the prospect scene? Is there still something there or is this just a dead cat bounce.
Matt Eddy: I looked at Bradley for the Hot Sheet, but we had enough other strong candidates with longer track records. The interesting thing about Bradley’s profile is that he has become an extreme groundball pitcher this year, with a 3.1 G/F ratio that ranks fifth in the minors (though it has shrunk to 2.3 through five Double-A starts). That sort of pitching style can work if a pitcher has plus control (which he has not so far at Huntsville). In the end I’d say hold on Bradley and check back next year, but he’s no longer a automatic bust.
Tim (Sarasota): Hello Matt, Despite all the hype around Javier Baez isn't Alcantara the logical call up to take over for Darwin Barney? What are the chances that Alcantara can stay at the cornerstone with Baez moving to 3rd and Bryant to LF
Matt Eddy: Yes, Alcantara is more big league-ready than Baez right now, plus he’s already on the 40-man roster. If you’re wagering money, then Alcantara is the smart play. I wouldn’t necessarily give up on Bryant at third base. He’s a better athlete than generally given credit for, and that combined with some of Baez’s over-aggressiveness could mean a shift to LF for him instead of Bryant.
JP Starkey - Bozzi (Manchester, CT): Was quite unusual to see J. Polanco get called all the way up from Hi-A. What can we expect from him, and if he holds is own, is he here to stay?
Matt Eddy: Jorge Polanco is a fine prospect, but I think his callup tells us two things: (1) The Twins were desperate for someone who can play SS (and Polanco was on the 40-man roster), and (2) they value his mental makeup enough to trust that a callup will not hinder his development. I would expect him to head back down to the minors before long, though he might finish the year at Double-A and get a longer look next year.
Dale (SF): Do you think playing in a hitters league and/or hitters park hinders a players development? It seems every player that plays in Cal League needs a caviat or disclaimer to explain their stats.
Matt Eddy: You would never get a farm director to admit it on record, but I suspect teams are most concerned with players developing bad habits. Hitters selling out to the pull side or pitchers not working the inner half, stuff like that.
Karen (Vancouver): What do you think J.P. Crawford and Raul Modesi Jr's ceilings will be? Thanks.
Matt Eddy: I trust Phillies SS J.P. Crawford’s feel to hit but wonder how loud his other tools will be. The Royals’ Raul Adalbero Mondesi is almost the opposite. He can run and field and throw, but can he hit? Even outside of High-A Wilmington’s pitcher’s paradise, he hasn’t produced or showed much feel for the strike zone. He’s super-young, though, and roughly the same age as high school picks this year. We had Mondesi a good deal higher in the preseason Top 100, and I don’t think we’ve seen enough to reverse course yet.
Oliver (Brooklyn): Matt Olson: On the cusp of a breakout at age 20? Or Chris Carter Part II? Same question for Renato Nunez.
Matt Eddy: Olson is an interesting prospect to monitor at Double-A. He may not hit 39 homers at Stockton, as Carter did in 2008, but I think he’s a better prospect at the same stage. Olson has a lower whiff rate and much better SO/BB ratio in a context where that’s more difficult to pull off. Plus as a lefty hitter, Olson will have see more fastballs and changeups which to hammer. Nunez is making progress, but some of his flaws might be his undoing at higher levels. He hits for enough power to remain interesting, however.
Jorge Polanco (On a plane, not a bus!): The Twins put me exclusively at shortstop this year and told me no one was ahead of me there. Now, suddenly, they're hyping Daniel Santana as the future! Once I get these errors figured out, I'm better than him, right? And now they go and pick another fella in the draft? What is my future?
Matt Eddy: Ha! I bet it shakes out thusly: Nick Gordon at SS, Jorge Polanco at 2B and Santana at UTIL or on another team. Nothing against Santana, he’s a pure shortstop who can hit a little bit, but those attributes make him a nice trade chip too.
Jim Prospector (Dallas, TX): Michael A. Taylor......best CF defense in minors....over .400 OBP, 17HRs, .982 OPS....what is not to love ??????
Matt Eddy: A strikeout rate higher than Joey Gallo? I know you’re being rhetorical, and I like Taylor, too, but to say he has no flaws is disingenuous. He’s learning to turn his tools into skills, and now he’s sharpening those skills. A potential first-division CF.
John W. (Binghamton, NY): Good afternoon, Matt. Last year, someone from BA in a chat said that Gregory Polanco was the best name flying under the radar (as in a propspect not many knew about). Who is this years Gregory Polanco in the minors?
Matt Eddy: I’m struggling with this one. Is Mookie Betts on the table? He’s surpassed my expectations, and has the type of athleticism and hand-eye to be a special hitter. More off the board, I might nominate the Reds’ Jesse Winker who really has a nice batting profile with power, patience and feel to hit. He’s nothing special defensively, so he’s not dynamic like Betts or Polanco. If you’re looking for players near the majors who might sneak up on people, maybe Mets C Kevin Plawecki, Dbacks 3B Jake Lamb, Marlins C J.T. Realmuto, Mariners SS Chris Taylor . . .
Matt Eddy: Thanks for the great questions. The Hot Sheet rolls on next Friday.